HOUSTON – Scott Servais goes above and beyond when it comes to getting to know his players and understand what makes them tick. Still, spring training is different from the regular season and young players can be unpredictable. The first time you see them under the big lights things can change things, and on opening night in Texas, Servais saw something different in young reliever James Pazos when he went to hand him the ball with a runner on, two outs, and the Mariners down two in the six inning.
“I kind of joked with him, I said, ‘You can smile a little bit, go ahead and start breathing for me.'”
While Pazos had made a few appearances for the Yankees over the past two seasons, he hadn’t experienced anything like opening day with a new club, and perhaps there were nerves and he needed the reminder to breathe. Mike Zunino, who caught him that night, saw something different, however.
“That may just be his resting heart rate there there,” Zunino said. “He’s very even-keeled, low keyed. It’s nice to have that personality in the bullpen.”
It’s also nice to have that arm.
“Love, love, love the stuff,” said pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who in the audio piece embedded above goes on to break down Pazos’ arsenal, how he uses it and the work that has been put into it since the start of camp.
Coming to the Mariners has been an eye-opening experience and opportunity for Pazos. While the stuff has always been there, the struggle has been his command. He finds himself in a good learning environment with the Mariners and appreciates the time that has been put in by Stottlemyre and Servais to improve his game.
General manager Jerry Dipoto recently called the Pazos trade a sneaky deal, one that didn’t get a ton of attention but could pay dividends. Pazos has just one outing in a Mariners uniform under his belt, but a good start can go a long way for a young player in a new organization. And at the very least, James Pazos can breathe when the skipper hands him the ball.