Recently, we had the pleasure to speak with Mets pitcher Jacob Lugo, currently pitching for High-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League.
Feb 28, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A view from center field as the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets during spring training at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Lugo, 24, has a 3.27 ERA in 13 appearances spanning 44 innings for St. Lucie. He’s allowed 40 hits, walked 13, and struck out 47.
Here’s our Q & A…
Rising Apple: What has the adjustment been like going from the pitcher’s haven that is Historic Grayson Stadium to the much more neutral Tradition Field? Have you changed your approach at all?
Jacob Lugo: Historic Grayson was a nice luxury to have while in the SAL, but as far as adjustments, I can’t say I’ve made any. I’m still trying to induce weak contact from hitters which is what I try to do at every stadium I pitch in.
RA: Your fastball velocity has usually been clocked in the upper 80s to lower 90s, but you have the ability to reach back and hit the mid-90s at times. Is there a specific time when you go to that extra gear?
JL: I like to try to get hitters to hit my fastball when it is in the upper 80s because that’s my two seam that has a little more movement. And I like to save my best fastball for when the hitter is expecting an off speed pitch or seems to be behind my “usual” fastball. I feel like if I’m getting hit around a lot in a particular outing, I have to rely on my best fastball more often.
JL: Well I’ve been around Matz and Nimmo for a few years now and, although they are top prospects, they’re still just a couple of the normal guys to me. What does stand out with those guys though, is the way they go about every day. They’re both extremely dedicated and work extremely hard, on the field, in the weight room, and even in the cafeteria. Great guys.
RA: What has it been like to work with pitching coach Phil Regan? His reputation inside the organization is phenomenal.
JL: Phil is awesome. I couldn’t possibly say enough about him. It’s not often you get to be around a guy who has been around the game as long as he has. I try to take in as much from him as I can on a daily basis about baseball and life. We all know that when Phil is talking, you listen. It is always a great thing when every level you progress, there’s another outstanding pitching coach to work with and to get a new perspective on pitching from.
RA: After coming up as a starter, you’ve been working out of the bullpen this season, but you’re still making multiple inning appearances every time out. What’s that been like?
JL: Well I haven’t pitched out of the bullpen since early in my college career. Its definitely different than starting. As far as trying to keep my pitch count down and go as long as I can, that’s fairly similar. But then again I know there aren’t many innings left in the game so I can empty the tank a little sooner than I normally would as a starter. I do realize though, that late in a game, odds are that a run or two could be the determining factor whether we win or lose. It’s a lot easier to lose a game in the ninth than it is in the first.
RA: Any particular goals for this season – both in terms of what you’d like to work on and where you’d like to end the year?
JL: I’ve been focusing a lot on locating my secondary pitches in hitters counts. I still have a bit of work to do with my pitches but control always needs fine tuning. My main goal for this season, as it being my first full season, is to stay healthy. I would love to have the opportunity to move up in the organization but my job isn’t to worry about where I’ll be tomorrow, it’s to get hitters out today. if I focus on that, I’m sure I’ll be happy where I end the year, as long as it’s still on the bump.
RA: You missed the 2012 season after undergoing lumbar fusion surgery. Can you describe that for us, and give us some detail as to what went into the rehab from such an injury?
JL: It was a long recovery. Most of the first three months after my lumbar fusion, I had to lay in bed or on the couch watching TV. The bulk of the rehab process was stretching and core exercises, which was a few times a week for about 12 weeks. After that, I was able to get into the gym and basically play catch-up for the rest of my body to get to where it needed to be. The hardest part of the situation was staying mentally focused and not to get too bummed at being at home all summer long.
RA: You have good separation from your fastball to your slider, change-up, and curve, which helps keep hitters off balance. However, when you need a strike-out, what pitch do you go to?
JL: That’s the fun part, is striking people out. Depending on the situation and the hitter at hand, I like to think I can use all of my pitches to put a hitter away. If I had to pick, I’d have to say my fastball and curveball. They’re both work well if I can keep the hitters from seeing my best ones early in a count.