SURPRISE, Ariz. – Matt Harrison is reading again.
In what has become an offseason tradition for the left-handed pitcher, he’s added yet another motivational book to his library. But unlike last offseason, when he read books that dealt with the mental side of pitching, this one is about golf.
“I’m not even that good,” Harrison said. “I’m like maybe 100 on a good day. I just play to have fun.”
The book is ‘Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia’ by Dr. David Cook, recommended to Harrison by one of the coaches.
“It was a good book about things that pertain to your life,” Harrison said.
But of course reading isn’t all Harrison did this offseason. He worked on the normal things: mechanics and strength and conditioning. He also focused on his slider.
“I want it to be slower and a bigger break,” said Harrison, who also throws a fastball, curve and changeup. “ My curve is the slowest pitch I have (78 to 80 mph). My slider has been like a cutter at 88 to 91 [mph] and I want to get it to changeup speed, like 83 to 84. Slider is too hard and it’s really flat. It’s just going across the plate. It had to start in on guys and too many times I was leaving it over the middle of the plate.”
Harrison is looking forward to refining the pitch this spring. And he arrives with plenty of confidence after finally being able to stay in the rotation after being in the Opening Day rotation for the third consecutive season. Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA in 185 2/3 innings with 126 strikeouts and 57 walks. He did struggle during the World Series and was on the mound for the club’s Game 7 loss. But he’s said the experience helped him and that overall the season was a huge confidence boost.
“It was good for me to have a full year under my belt and not only make the rotation, but stay in the rotation the whole year,” Harrison said. “It’s really helped my confidence. I’m looking forward to doing that again this year. I want to go out there and make every start and make sure I have a consistent start each time out.”
Harrison said he wasn’t worried about all the talk of Roy Oswalt possibly coming to Texas. Oswalt’s agent announced Thursday that Oswalt will continue to throw, but will wait and see how things pan out before determining where he might pitch this season. That could even be during the season.
“That’s all part of it,” Harrison said. “I wasn’t concerned. My job is to get ready and pitch every fifth day, and that’s what I’m going to do.”