Starting pitchers are creatures of habit and have their routine every fifth day. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will get anxious and eat a turkey sandwich. Sometimes the starters will get to choose the music in the clubhouse that day, but almost all of them don’t like to be bothered in the middle of their outing.
For Athletics starter Cole Irvin, he likes to sit in a particular spot in the dugout where he isn’t able to see the opposing pitcher. This means he doesn’t get a look at his own team’s offense.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t watch us hit,” Irvin said following the A’s 8-4 loss to the Houston Astros on Thursday at the Coliseum. “I seriously try not to watch our offense hit. I know when we hit a home run, I know when we hit doubles, but I keep my mind off of the lighted monster so I have no idea what he was doing or how he was throwing.”
“I purposely block the pitcher where I sit in the dugout as well,” he added.
It’s something Irvin has done from the beginning. It’s more than wanting to avoid distraction for him, and while he hasn’t labeled it a superstition, it’s imperative. He probably could never give you a strong scouting report on Houston Astros starter Luis Garcia.
“I’ve always done that, I’ve always kind of kept myself in my own execution, meditation state -- I’ve never named it,” Irvin added. “But it’s more so I like to just sit in the dugout, focus on my breathing. I’ll watch the hitter, but I won’t necessarily watch the pitcher, or the pitch coming in. But it’s more so I just focus on reorganizing myself -- whether it was a good or bad inning and try to get back to where I need to execute more.”
Irvin struck out one in five innings while giving up eight hits and five earned runs. The Astros’ bats figured him out, but he still maintained his even-keeled mentality.
Irvin says blocking out the opposing pitcher is part of what has added to his success in the past. He enters his own state of mind and doesn’t focus on the score, or whatever is going on out on the field.
The strategy is rather fascinating as well.
“Our dugout is especially tough because if I’m not sitting behind whoever’s sitting on the bucket up there, it could be a little challenging,” Irvin added. “But most dugouts will have seats in front of you or what have you.”
“There’s always something blocking the view so that’s where I like to sit,” Irvin said.
Hey, whatever works.