Q&A: Touki Toussaint on beating the yips, practicing Pilates

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Dany Gilbert Kiti Toussaint was born June 20, 1996 in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Toussaint was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Diamondbacks. Toussaint was the 16th player drafted. Sean Newcomb was the 15th pick, by the Angels. The Braves acquired Toussaint from the D-backs on June 20, 2015. The Braves acquired Toussaint when they agreed to take on pitcher Bronson Arroyo's salary. The Braves gave up Phil Gosselin. Toussaint played for the World team in the Futures game at the 2018 All-Sta

Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint met with the media at Chop Fest on Jan. 19 at SunTrust Park. In the interview, he discussed his growing confidence, having the yips and trying Pilates. The interview was edited for brevity.

Q: What are your goals going into spring training after what you experienced last year?

A: Just to stay consistent, keep working on my game, keep working on fastball control and work from there.

Q: What stood out to you when you took a breath and looked back at everything you experienced, especially over the final months of last year?

A: Growing up, you think, 'Oh, major leaguers. They're so much better. They do everything flashy and they make all the plays.' You wish you could do that. But when I took a breath, I realized that I was actually in the big leagues and I performed. That was the biggest impact. I was like, 'I actually did it.'

Q: How much confidence did you get out of having some success at this level, especially in the postseason?

A: I gained a lot of confidence, just being able to get the best hitters out. The Machados, the Puigs, the Harpers, you name it. You have to face them, and you have to get them out. You have to stare them in the face, and they have to stare you in the face at the end of the day.

Q: What was the best thing you heard from a teammate or an opponent that made you feel good about how well you’re pitching?

A: I think it was Peter Moylan. He said, 'You're here. And you better stay here.' To hear that, it was like all the hard work paid off. All the grinding, to having the yips, to not knowing where the ball was going. All that to now, I'm figuring it out.

Q: Is that how you would describe it, having the “yips,” when you were walking too many guys?

A: I legit had the yips in spring training of 2017. I couldn't even throw it near the catcher.

Q: How did you get over that?

A: I told myself it couldn't get any worse, and I started figuring it out. It was like, 'Don't throw it away. Don't make a bad pitch.' But you'd make the bad pitch. I stopped telling myself that and said, 'Just throw the ball,' and it started clicking.

Q: How exciting was it for you to go to the playoffs in your first season?

A: It honestly still hasn't sunk in yet. It was surreal to be in the playoff environment. That's what you dream of as a kid — the 3-2 count, bases loaded. I was actually in that situation of bases loaded, 2-1 count, and I had to get out of it. It's like, "There you go. This is what you wanted."

Q: What have you learned about your pitching repertoire after a big-league season? What are you working on? 

A: Fastball command, fastball command, fastball command. You get that and it opens everything else.

Q: How about your workouts this offseason? You’ve always been a big workout guy at (agent Scott) Boras’ place down in Florida. Are you continuing that? Are you doing more?

A: Last year I did Pilates. (Blue Jays pitcher) Aaron Sanchez told me to do Pilates last year, and I was like, 'What?! I'm not taking Pilates.' But he told me to trust it, so I did it, and it has made a huge difference. So I go work out, then I do Pilates every day. You learn about your body. Small things you didn't realize you need like balance and core, you need that. It makes workouts easier.

Q: Is there a key to getting a rotation spot for you heading into spring training?

A: Just being consistent. I need to show they can give me the ball every fifth day and give 6-7 innings and keep doing what I can do.