Q&A: Sean Newcomb talks pitching mentality, lessons from first season

Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb met with the media at Chop Fest on Jan. 19 at SunTrust Park. In the interview, he discussed what he learned in his rookie season and his pitching mentality, among other things. The interview was edited for brevity. 

Q: Looking back at the season, did you pick out some things that might have helped you in the second half maintain the way you started the season?

A: There was nothing I keyed on too much. I just have to learn how to be more consistent through the whole stretch of the year. When it got to the middle of the year and the end of the summer, it was a different feel for my body, so I took note of that. I just need to stay in tune with my body.

Q: How are you preparing differently? You indicated there may be some changes this offseason.

A: Nothing too much, just getting going a bit earlier. Mentally is the biggest difference, with everything I learned last year as far as pitching goes. I learned a lot of different things about my throwing. Mentally, as much as physically, I’ve been productive.

Q: With the change in pitching coaches, how soon did you get to talk to the new coach Rick Kranitz? 

A: He called pretty soon after he signed just to reach out and get that first communication. He let me know where he was at, what he expected of me. It was pretty lenient. Everything looks good, so I look forward to working with him.

Q: Throughout your career people have talked about your command. I know you’re sick of it. But when you look back and see percentage of first pitch strikes and what could be done differently, what do you say to yourself?

A: For me, it’s just staying more consistent with my mentality. “Aggressive” is the way I usually put it. I have to prepare my body to do that 100-plus times, 30 times a year. If it’s a day game on a Sunday and I’m grinding through a tough inning, just being able to lock down and know that I’m a couple pitches from getting away from it.

Q: Last year, throwing the change-up as frequently as you did, how much could that help you this year?

A: Seeing that success with the increase in change-up usage was pretty big in the first half of the season. I need to use my change-up that much more because I know how important it is. Being able to use the change-up broadens up my repertoire. I’ll be able to approach spring and approach the season differently now. 

Q: Have you kept up with what else is going on in the division?

A: Yeah, I’ve seen all the different moves. I watch MLB Network here and there. We came in first place, and now everyone behind us is trying to make some moves to catch up, so it’s intriguing.

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