Knuckleballers Steven Wright (#35) and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield (the suit) have been coaching pitching coach Carl Willis, who joined the Red Sox team in the middle of last season. As manager John Farrell recalls “with a chuckle,” coaching assistance from the coachee seems to be normal when a coach suddenly must contend with so different a pitch as the knuckleball. Tim Britton:
[Willis] had to learn each pitcher with his new club—their mechanics, their repertoires, their personalities—on the fly….
His biggest challenge was learning how to coach a knuckleballer…. Having never worked with a knuckleball pitcher, Willis enlisted as much help as he could get.
So whenever Tim Wakefield was around the Red Sox, either last season or this past spring, Willis would invite him out to watch Wright’s bullpen sessions with him. He would chat with Wakefield to learn as much as possible about the art of the knuckleball delivery.
“He’s really helped me to learn how to watch Steven’s delivery,” Willis said. “Wake and Steven have really helped me to learn exactly what to look for. Some of the things you look for in his mechanics are different than with a conventional pitcher.”
Those mechanics can be very different for a knuckleballer than for anyone else on a pitching staff. Willis pointed to the fact that Wright doesn’t want to get his legs too involved in his delivery and that what would be good extension of the arm for a conventional pitcher is counterproductive for the knuckler….
“They’re teaching you,” manager John Farrell said with a chuckle, recalling his experience as Wakefield’s pitching coach with the Red Sox from 2007 to 2010.
Wright says that his growing knowledge of the mechanics of his pitching have enabled him to throw the knuckleball better. This is the knowledge he’s been helping to impart to the coach charged with helping Wright to keep doing his best.
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Last week, both Wright and Dickey won head-of-the-pack acknowledgement from PitcherList.com:
Congrats to Steven Wright’s Knuckleball for winning GIF of the Week! The pitch had a mind of its own to Chris Davis and was the easy winner of the week….
Not to be beat out by the only other knuckleballer in the league, Dickey elected to display his talents on Wright’s home turf, and gave us this unreal pitch to Blake Swihart, whose bat said “that’s it, I’m out of here” after a big whiff.