Anthony Swarzak received a call from Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto about 10:30 a.m. Monday. Later that day, he was stuck on the middle seat (21st row, to be exact) of a plane en route to San Francisco.
“Let’s move to Atlanta,” he told his wife.
The 33-year-old righty was the latest mercenary to join the Braves bullpen. A veteran of seven major-league clubs, Swarzak returns to the National League East where he spent last season with the Mets.
Swarzak has had an up-and-down year, though the Braves feel there’s more than what’s met the eye. He spoke with media prior to Tuesday’s game.
On the trade:
“It was a surprise. It was a little earlier in the year than I thought, but it’s a good surprise. I’m happy to be here. It’s a great organization to get an opportunity to play for.”
On what he’s seen and heard about the Braves:
“Watch out, because they can throw up some runs in a hurry. They have some young pitching that is very good. They have incredible defense. That’s all I heard, all I saw. All the highlights, everything from playing against them last year when I was with the Mets, very, very good ballclub. I’m very excited to play here and fit into the mix.”
On pitching for a defensively sound team:
“Any time you’re strong up the middle, it’s going to help your pitching. That’s what we are here, and our catchers seem like they do a great job of studying hitters and knowing the staff. I’ve only been here a day, but already you can’t get those guys away form the computer. So that’s a good sign and it speaks to their professionalism and the coaching staff. As a player, you follow the lead of your coaches. That seems to be the case here.”
On his role:
“Stay ready and see what happens. There wasn’t too much talk about it yesterday, but I got here a little late.”
On his performance in 2019:
“Early on, I was hurt by the long ball. It wasn’t many hits to be honest with you, but when there was contact it went out. So it is what it is. You have to make adjustments. And usually what that is, it’s location. My stuff was there, it was getting better as my outings went on, it was getting more in the zone, and now I’m a Brave. So I’m going to continue to go in the right direction. When I’m going good, I’m challenging hitters, so that’s what I’m getting back to and that’s what got me success my last couple outings with the Mariners.”
On who he’s looking forward to playing with on the Braves:
“First and foremost, Freddie Freeman. You see what this guy has done over the course of his career. Just punishing lefties and righties, ultimate professional. One of the best first basemen in baseball. I’m excited to see him play. Nick Markakis too. I’ve known Nick for about 10-plus years now. We have a mutual friend, Jeff Ferrentino, in Fort Lauderdale. So I’m excited to get an opportunity to play with him. The extreme professional. This is going to be a great opportunity to do something special.”
His Freeman scouting report:
“Don’t stay in one place and come at him with your best stuff. If he gets you, worry about the next time you face him because he’s going to do his damage. You try not to take it to heart.”
His Braves lineup scouting report:
“They’re a young lineup but extremely talented. I don’t mean young in a sense of negativity, I mean young in that you don’t know where they’re going to go young. And they don’t miss their pitches. If they’re looking for pitches in a certain location, it’s going to get hit. It’s going to get hit hard. You take it from there as a pitcher. You flip a coin and hope they’re not thinking what you’re thinking. That’s really how you have to go about it. Generally, you attack young lineups outside the zone. That does not work with the Atlanta Braves. So that speaks to their professionalism and (the) coaching staff with a message that we’re going to make these pitchers throw strikes, we’re going to keep them in the zone. It seems to be working.”