The schooling of Phillies phenom Andrew Painter included exercises (and hoops) with Max Scherzer

Andrew Painter is attempting to earn a spot within the Phillies’ rotation as a 19-year-old. Learn extra

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Andrew Painter had wrapped up his last offseason exercise and mentioned goodbye to his trainers and energy coaches when he bumped right into a fellow pitcher with whom he educated over the past three months.

“OK,” Max Scherzer mentioned, extending his hand, “hopefully I’ll see you.”

Scherzer is 38, a future Corridor of Famer with three Cy Younger Awards and three different top-three finishes; Painter is nineteen, newly topped by Baseball America as the highest pitching prospect within the sport. Scherzer is nearing the twilight of a profession as a generational pitcher; Painter is simply simply getting began as a main candidate to win the Phillies’ fifth-starter job.

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However their paths virtually definitely will cross once more, and possibly quickly. They might even share a mound in a recreation this season in New York or Philadelphia. In any case, Scherzer and Painter rank among the many largest components for the Mets and Phillies, respectively, in attempting to unseat the Braves as Nationwide League East champions.

For a lot of the winter, they hung round one another at Cressey Sports activities Efficiency, an elite coaching facility in South Florida visited by {many professional} athletes. Painter would throw a bullpen session, then linger to look at Scherzer. They might speak about coaching regimens, throwing routines, diet, and extra.

Typically, they even shot hoops.

“We’d have a giant group of men that performed, in order that was form of what related us at first,” Painter mentioned, seated at his locker after a spring coaching exercise this week. “He’s aggressive. He’s good. Max. Every thing’s a World Collection for him.”

OK, certain. However Scherzer vs. Painter, at the very least on the basketball court docket, would appear like a mismatch. Along with the age distinction, Scherzer is 6-foot-3 in comparison with Painter, each bit the facility forward-sized 6-foot-7 that he’s listed by the Phillies.

Benefit, Painter?

“A bit bit,” he mentioned, laughing. “[Scherzer] is a bodily man, although. It’s positively cool to look at.”

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All eyes have been on Painter all through the primary week of spring coaching, with most of the Phillies’ veteran gamers remarking on his maturity. Kyle Schwarber teased him Wednesday morning about whether or not he was in a position to sleep in anticipation of throwing to hitters for the primary time in dwell batting follow. Painter shot again respectfully, the one approach {that a} rookie can.

Then, Painter hung a curveball and Schwarber belted it towards U.S. Freeway 19, which runs past the right-field fence.

There have been “ooohs” from a gaggle of followers, hooting and hollering from teammates, even a mock celebration by Schwarber. After which there was a facet dialog during which Painter sought and acquired suggestions from Schwarber about an electrical fastball, an rising cutter, and the unlucky curveball.

“He’s asking good questions on pitch shapes and what did I see within the at-bat, issues like that,” Schwarber mentioned. “I’m actually impressed, one, by the pitcher, but additionally two, the way in which that he’s dealing with himself in camp as nicely. It’s been A-plus.”

As catcher Garrett Stubbs put it, “I truthfully didn’t know he’s 19 till you simply mentioned that. If that’s value something, that’s the opinion I’ve on how mature he’s, what he is aware of about himself.”

A few of that maturity certainly stems from years of being groomed for this very second. Painter was 14 when his father started taking him to Cressey Sports activities, the place Scherzer charges on the prime of a star-studded listing of major-league purchasers. Mets co-ace Justin Verlander works on the market, too, albeit too early within the morning for Painter.

“Justin form of mentioned, ‘What’s up?’ a number of instances,” Painter mentioned, “however he was there slightly sooner than me. He’s an early riser. I talked to Max slightly extra this yr.”

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Painter took be aware of Scherzer’s “super-intense” bullpen classes. Not like most pitchers, who use the time to work on particular pitches or to easily give attention to conditioning their arms, Scherzer treats bullpen classes like a recreation.

“He’s going via lineups,” Painter mentioned. “He’s like, ‘All proper, we’re going through the Braves, [Ozzie] Albies is up.’ The catcher might be like, ‘What would you like me to name?’ Max is all-in. It’s 100% or 0%. He’s not like, ‘All proper, I’m simply going to cruise via this bullpen.’ He’s locked in.

“Watching a Scherzer bullpen is one thing else. It’s completely different. It’s not your regular bullpen, that’s for certain.”

There have been different classes. Scherzer talked to Painter about staying on prime of his arm care, not taking shortcuts but additionally not overextending. Well being is as very important to pitching as expertise, and Scherzer has been amongthe more healthy pitchers within the sport, averaging 196 innings per full season since 2009.

“Simply seeing what he does on an on a regular basis foundation, I form of take a look at that and the way he treats his physique,” Painter mentioned. “He’s not overdoing it however ensuring he’s prioritizing the appropriate stuff. That’s a tough factor to do. Simply seeing the eye to element, rehab stuff, the arm care, and ensuring his physique is able to go and maintain a full yr.”

Painter’s schooling has continued in Phillies camp. In a break from their spring coaching customized of arranging gamers’ lockers by their uniform numbers, the Phillies put Painter’s subsequent to Zack Wheeler and some ft from Aaron Nola.

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It was intentional. They need him to ask questions of their prime two pitchers, who’ve been glad to tackle mentorship roles. Wheeler, specifically, sits with Painter for a couple of minutes every morning earlier than the day by day exercises start on the again fields.

“They’re nice,” Painter mentioned. “They’re trustworthy. They’re teammates. On the finish of the day, they’re going to do no matter it takes to assist me.”

This winter, the information even got here from one of many Phillies’ chief rivals. And Scherzer can all however financial institution on seeing Painter put his recommendation to make use of.