Blair took veteran catcher Pierzynski’s stern message to heart

NEW YORK – Aaron Blair had walked three consecutive Cincinnati batters in the third inning Monday, the last of the walks bringing in the go-ahead run, when 39-year-old Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski went to the mound to have a discussion with the rookie pitcher.

A one-way discussion.

“No, you can’t put it in the paper,” Blair said, smiling as he recalled the colorful verbiage that Pierzynski used to get his point across.

Basically, Pierzynski told Blair “throw the (expletive) ball over the plate, you (expletive),” and said he wasn’t going to catch another pitch until he threw a strike.

Blair proceeded to throw six consecutive strikes.

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After issuing that third walk in the third inning, Blair retired the next six batters on two sacrifice flies, a line-out to second base, a fly-out to left field and consecutive ground outs. He retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced in a five-inning stint in which he was charged with six runs, four hits and four walks in five innings.

All the runs he gave up were in the first three innings, including three in the first after he walked the leadoff hitter.

“A.J. came out and talked to me. He kind of turned a switch on in me,” Blair said Friday. “I got more aggressive as a pitcher, not only my pitches but the attitude. I’m just looking to carry that into (Saturday).”

Blair is 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA after his first nine major league starts, but he’s eager to face the Mets on Saturday and to see what being aggressive and attacking hitters can do for him if he does it from the first pitch, instead of waiting for his catcher to come out and say succinctly what better be, what must be, done.

Blair, who turned 24 last month, took Pierzynski’s lecture to heart. He applied it. When Blair talked to his father after the game and told him what happened, he said his dad told him he probably needed to hear what Pierzynski made so clear.

“It’s not something you do on a regular basis,” Pierzynski said of the gruff mound discussion, “but just in that situation, it kind of looked like he was pitching away from contact. I mean, they weren’t hitting the ball. He gave up a bunch of runs on, like, two hits. So it wasn’t like they were hitting the ball.

“He was getting in trouble by walking guys. Sometimes you see that from young guys. They just don’t want to give up a hit, they’re rather try to be perfect…. He’ll be fine. It was just a one-time thing, and when he pitches tomorrow hopefully he’ll be more aggressive.”

Told that Blair’s dad told Aaron it was probably something he needed to hear, Pierzynski said, “He threw great after that. I don’t know if it was coincidence or what.”

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