Max Scherzer joked when he spoke with reporters this winter about the process of getting to know new Washington Nationals’ pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, explaining that it’s something that won’t be a big deal until the season gets underway and there are things to actually talk about.
“I have my routines, I know what I’m trying to accomplish, I know what I need to do to get ready for Spring Training,” Scherzer said.
“The fun with your pitching coach really doesn’t start till about June,” Scherzer continued, “when you’ve had a few bad starts, and he’s made a few bad decisions, you’ve made a few bad decisions, and you can start pushing blame on each other.”
Lilliquist, who was the pitching coach in St. Louis between 2012-17 before the Cardinals let him go this winter, echoed Scherzer’s sentiments when he spoke about his approach to working with veterans like the three-time Cy Young winner and Nats’ starter Stephen Strasburg this Spring.
“They have their routines, and I’m just here to facilitate,” Lilliquist said, as quoted by The Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo.
“I’m here for them. They have everything they need. Go get them. They’re veterans. They know what they need.”
According to new Nationals’ skipper Dave Martinez, Lilliquist knows what all the pitchers in camp with Washington this Spring need.
Martinez told reporters earlier this week he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from the former major league reliever early in Spring Training.
“He’s very detailed and he’s passionate about what he does,” Martinez said.
“He’s passionate about every pitcher. He’s got something for every pitcher individually, and also some key points as a group. So he’s built this relationship already with a bunch of the pitchers, and I can see him actually conversing, working on different things, and it’s fun to watch.
“All the coaches have been unbelievable, and the biggest thing for me, I told them, ‘Go out there and build that relationships.’ You’re going to tend to find one or two guys that really latch on to just one coach, and find out who those guys are and try to help them every day in one aspect of the game.”
Lilliquist told reporters that the group of pitchers he’s working with in West Palm Beach is the best he’s worked with at this point in Spring Training, and Martinez said that the coach has an individualized plan for each and every one of them.
“You’re dealing with, at any time, twenty-five different guys,” Martinez explained, “twenty-five different individuals, twenty-five guys that think differently. So you’ve got to figure out what works for each individual and then go from there.”