MIKE SCIOSCIA

I haven’t caught anybody that has better stuff than Fernando when he was young, before he hurt his arm, says Scioscia. He could locate the fastball on both sides of the plate, plus he had a breaking ball, a slider and two different screwballs. He had an uncanny command where he could just move the ball around, and it was almost like a whiffle ball the way he could move it around.

When Valenzuela returned from the injury in 1989, Scioscia says he didn’t quite have the same velocity, not quite the same crispness. But he won a lot of games. He still knew how to pitch and he still was very effective.

The arm injury forced Valenzuela to tweak his approach. Even if he had stayed healthy, he believes adjustments to stay ahead of hitters were inevitable. For years, he had baffled hitters with his screwball, which broke away from right-handers.

Sooner or later, I had to do something. Make some changes, Valenzuela says. I noticed a lot of hitters diving for the ball outside, looking for something away, especially the right-handed hitters. That’s when I started using the cut fastball. I had to get more inside with the fastball. He adds that the cutter probably kept me on big leagues teams, pitching for about another five years.

On the day of his only no-hitter, Valenzuela left the clubhouse for the bullpen when he stumbled on a crowd in the team’s video room, watching the final outs of Stewart’s no-no in Toronto.

We were watching, because we were Dave Stewart’s good friend, recalls Scioscia. All of us played together in the minor leagues. And Fernando was walking by the video room, going down to start his warm-ups down in the bullpen. He pokes his head in and gets the last out of the no-hitter.

We’re pumped for Stew, and Fernando saysand this is the God’s honest truthYou saw one on TV. Now you’re going to see one in person.’ And he walks down there, gets ready for the game, and ends up throwing a no-hitter.

I was joking, Valenzuela says, because that’s took a few quick steps, slid to his knees as he backhanded the ball, and flipped it to Stewart covering first.

I took a lot of pride in defensive work, and to have a play like that, McGwire says as he starts to laugh, I was like, Wow! That’s a pretty damn good play, and on AstroTurf, too!’

Steinbach credits McGwire for making the game’s key defensive play, adding, We all know about his hitting home runs, but he played a really, really good first base. The quickness of the artificial surface didn’t handcuff McGwire or sidetrack Stewart’s no-hit bid.

The thing that gets underplayed here is the fact that it happened at Toronto on turf, Steinbach notes. The infield is a lot faster. Balls get through quicker. You might get that ball right off home plateit hits the turf and bounces way highand

He could locate the fastball on both sides of the plate, plus he had a breaking ball, a slider and two different screwballs. He had an uncanny command where he could just move the ball around, and it was almost like a whiffle ball the way he could move it around.

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Mike Scioscia

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Mike Scioscia (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - 2014 Salary: $5

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