Athletics

Jesus Luzardo Q&A: A's rookie finds rare benefit from MLB season delay

Athletics

For what it’s worth, A’s pitcher Jesús Luzardo had dominated during his three spring training starts. Eight innings of work that yielded only four hits and one run, to go along with 13 strikeouts.

A high bar, but not a surprising result for the 22-year-old who made his MLB debut last season, and was trusted for three scoreless innings of work in the AL Wild Card Game.

On Friday, we FaceTimed with the top prospect in Oakland’s organization, who is currently sheltering in his native Florida.

NBC Sports California: On what he’s most excited to learn about Major League Baseball:

Luzardo: “I’m just really excited to get a full year as a starter. Last year I came up as a reliever. I liked it, and enjoyed it a lot. But at the end of the day, I’m a starter at heart. I’m excited to see what it takes to be a starter for a full season. I think I’m prepared, and kind of anxious to get out there and go.“

On benefitting from regular workout sessions with his Florida neighbor Mike Fiers:

“I’d say I am, just in terms of training and throwing. We talk about different pitches, and I’m working on some stuff. I think I’ve picked up a lot from him, and hopefully, he’s picked up a little bit from me. I’ve known him forever, the fact that we have this time, working out every day, time to bond and certain things, it’s a really good experience.”

 

While getting signs from the catcher, Luzardo’s entire face is usually covered by his glove. What’s happening behind there?

“It kind of depends from pitch to pitch. It’s really not that much. It’s more of me and my mentality. Growing up, I was taught tunnel vision, and not see anything but the catcher. And that’s something that helped me out in the wild-card game, and when I was closing a game in Seattle. It’s something I like to do every time I’m out there.“

On the trademark look of wearing prescription Oakley glasses while he pitches:

“I’ve looked into contact lenses. I’ve never used them, so it’s kind of a new thing. My glasses are kind of like a routine for me. When I pitch or throw without them, it’s kind of just weird. It’s more of a comfort thing, but at the same time, I struggle to see the catchers’ signs at night. That’s why most of the time I wear them to see the signs, or a high fly ball. Anything like that, I just want to be sure.“

Any other rituals or superstitions that you could share?

“My routine before every start or every outing is basically the same. I have a certain time that I get in the hot tub … 37 minutes before I go out and throw.”

How does Luzardo generate so much velocity from a smaller throwing frame?

“I really didn’t start throwing hard until I was probably a Junior in high school. I kind of grew into my body and started getting more serious in the weight room. It was really taking the weight room seriously. I’m not tall, not lanky, I kind of just have to focus on my lower half and having a strong core. A lot of stuff that goes into making a pitcher who he is.“

How Jesús is managing the life of isolation and quarantine:

“I’m just basically trying to stay home much as possible. Trying to stay busy, stay active, while being safe. My basic routine is wake up, do a little run or workout, then stay at home all day.“

[RELATED: Shooty compares Luzardo to two-time Cy Young winner]

Any possible bright sides of all the negative life situations, lately?

“A good takeaway for me, is definitely being closer to my family now than I have been in the past couple years. Because when I’m back in the offseason, it’s always working out, or at a friend's house. Obviously family means a lot to me so I’m close with them, but you don’t get to spend as much quality time. The fact that you form a closer bond: I’ve been having family Zoom chats lately, and that’s something that we never did before.“