Abbott embraces role of pitcher instead of thrower

Published 8:56 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Left-handeder Andrew Abbott prides himself on being a pitcher and not just a thrower as he sets goals to be consistent and to logged plenty of innings with 200 or more the focal point. (Courtesy of The Cincinnati Reds). (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

By Jim Walker

CINCINNATI — When looking at the Cincinnati Reds’ roster, each player is listed in a specific category.

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And when you see the name Andrew Abbott listed as a pitcher, make no mistake. Abbott is definitely a pitcher.

Compared to the late, great left-handed Tom Browning, the Reds’ southpaw has the same approach. With a fastball around 94-96 miles and hour at top speed, Abbott relies on location, breaking pitches and changing speeds.

Andrew Abbott

Abbott’s pitching style isn’t something he’s developed in recent years but rather part of a virtually life-long workout regime. He said he learned how to pitch before he worked on his speed.

“That’s what I learned first. I didn’t learn to throw hard until I was already good,” said Abbott.

David Abbott said his son began playing at 8-years old and was always ahead of the other players. Born in Virginia, the family was making a trip to Wisconsin to visit relatives and they stopped to attend a Brewers at Reds game. Dad bought both Andrew and himself Reds hats and began talking about playing in the major leagues.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have such a great support system. I’ve had a lot of good coaches. I’ve had a lot of good training guys in my life and I think they’ve kind of instilled it in me,” said Andrew Abbott.

“It started with my dad and when my dad couldn’t handle it, then it got to my travel coaches and what not. So, I’ve just been blessed and fortunate to have such a good system to get to this point.”

Abbott made his major league debut on June 5 last year, just four days after his 24th birthday. He went 8-6 in 21 games with an earned run average of 3.87 over 109.1 innings. He struck out 120, walked 44 and he allowed 47 runs, all earned.

This season, Abbott is 7-6 in 16 games and has 72 strikeouts and 32 walks over 89.2 innings. He has an ERA of 3.41 and has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 11 of his starts.

The big goal Abbott has set is reaching 200 innings pitched on a regular basis. He was shut down early last season due to arm fatigue but he set endurance as a big concern coming into his second season.

“For one, I focused on rest and just recovering. I’ve never thrown that many innings. So, that was the big first start to come in healthy and go at it healthy,” said Abbott.

“And then for longevity just throwing more and having a better routine, having a better weight room presence, better conditioning presence. If I focused on all that, then problems would alleviate themselves. I want to be a 200 innings pitcher. I want to be Mr. Consistent. That’s just personal goals that I have. And I’m not going to let anything step in the way. I don’t want to have any regrets.”

Although Abbott would prefer to work more than the five or six innings baseball is hung up on for starting pitchers in today’s game, he understands that nature of the game versus in the past when starting pitchers goal was a complete game.

“Honestly, it boils how good our bullpen is. Our bullpen is good. We’ve got (Alexis) Diaz, (Buck) Farmer, all those guys stepping up in different roles,” said Abbott who then reflected on last season.

“When we got to the fifth and sixth innings, they wanted to ride that hot hand. They wanted the third time through the lineup —because (the hitters) had already seen you twice and they’re going to see you a third time — hitters are going to adjust quicker, they’re going to do something and (managers) want to change up the looks. That’s just the way the game has gone recently.”

Even though the game relies more on the bullpen in today’s game, Abbott still wants to pitch deeper into the game. But he also knows that in order to go longer in a game, he has to prove himself worthy of that decision.

“I think you could do that at a certain point, but you have to earn it,” said Abbott. “If you can go out and give to the team and have the right attitude and help your teammates out in whatever way you can, then that kind of stuff happens. It kind of trickles down to you.”

Abbott had a moment last season in Milwaukee when he was throwing well and still had plenty of giddy up on the ball as well as control and manager David Bell gave him a little extra time on the mound,

“I had a moment when I was on a little run that me and D.B. (David Bell) had a little thing like that. He didn’t see it but I gave him an ‘I’m a stay in there and let me finish the inning.’  I thought it was cool that even though I was a rookie that they trusted me with that. I think it can get better with time and earning their trust.”

As for this season, Abbott said the Reds attitude and enthusiasm has been an extension of last season when the team was in playoff contention until the final week of the season.

“It’s electric, It’s a lot of fun to be around. The guys are just so good and they do a lot for the community,” said Abbott.

“A lot of the relationships and friendships I have are guys that I’ve played with and came up with together. It’s a lot of special people in one clubhouse and it means a lot to me and to everybody else.

“I think it’s important to use last year as a stepping stone for this year. It’s important that we were so close last year that we can only do so much more to get to that point. I think using that as a start we were playing meaningful games late in the season.

Somewhere, Tom Browning is smiling.