Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked after Tanner Rainey tossed a quick, 16-pitch, scoreless inning against Chicago’s White Sox last Tuesday about the 26-year-old reliever’s confidence growing as he’s been given more high-leverage innings over the last few weeks and done well.
“He’s been good,” Martinez said of the hard-throwing right-hander who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in a straight-up trade for Tanner Roark this winter. “And a testament to him, in Spring Training we really pounded strike one with him, ‘Strike one, getting ahead.’
“As a hitter, when you’re throwing 97 and all of a sudden you’re 0-1, that 97 becomes 99-100, and now all of a sudden you’re 0-2, and 100 becomes 102-103, cause he’s got a really good slider, so the thing for him is good tempo, don’t try to do too much, and get ahead.”
Martinez also likes the reliever’s demeanor on the mound, and the way he goes about his work.
Following his fifth consecutive scoreless appearance in Saturday night’s win over the San Diego Padres, Rainey’s manager said that the first time he brought the pitcher into a game he made a big impression.
“The first time I brought him in and gave him the ball, he had a look,” Martinez said, “and a presence about him that I really, really liked. And since then he’s been great. He gets it, he understands, and he’s learning, and he’s talking to other veteran bullpen guys out there and talking to [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart], but so far I love what I see out of him, his poise, what he’s trying to do, how he’s attacking hitters, everything has been really good.”
What does the look Rainey has on his face on the mound tell the second-year skipper?
“It’s a — I can’t say the words that I always use, but it’s a pretty good one. That’s what you want when you want give the ball to somebody.”
“Can you do an impersonation of the look?” a reporter asked Martinez.
He shot the reporter a withering stare.
“Watch out now,” Martinez said. “That was pretty good wasn’t it? Did I scare you?”
“Yeah, I’m scared.” the reporter said.