The Mets had been counting on RHP Vic Black to be key piece of their bullpen in 2014. However, after walking 10 batters and allowing 13 hits in 9.1 innings during Spring Training, he was demoted and started his season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Mets acquired Black and 2B prospect Dilson Herrera from the Pirates for C John Buck, OF Marlon Byrd and cash last summer.
Black spent a week on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck during early April. He has struck out three, walked two and allowed one hit and no runs during three innings since returning from injury.
Robert Brender: What did the organization say was the reason they felt you needed to be sent to Triple-A?
Vic Black: The biggest deal was just the walks. Everything was kind of off and so I wasn’t getting the results that they wanted or I wanted. It’s not who I am as a pitcher and I didn’t show that very well, but also my Spring Trainings don’t tend to be my strong suit and that’s shown the last two years. I’ve had a deep conversation with an old coach and coordinator from the Pirates and told him the spring is my time to get all the bad out and get ready for all the good. I feel like that’s what I do, but at the same time I’m not on a contract and so there are options and there are guys that threw better and they (the Mets) were trying to get off to a hot start. They took who they though would give them the best shot.
Robert Brender: You mentioned the walks. I read there was an issue with your timing, especially as it pertains to the glove tap in your delivery?
Vic Black: When I get in too much of a hurry everything gets out of whack. At the same time, my last two outings I actually switched back to my old mechanics which is what I had the first four outings after being traded and then we changed it up a little bit. I think at the time it worked because it was late in the season and being tired but I’m a really high energy guy and I think the mechanics I had at the time were the best fit for me. That’s my natural pitching style. It’s nothing that I would recommend teaching anyone because I don’t think it works for anyone [else]. Actually, no one. But, I went back to it and my first outing after a neck injury here, not throwing in eight days and I was 98 to 101 (MPH) with two K’s. I walked the leadoff guy but I hadn’t thrown in eight days. That’s how I pitch. I get ahead, they get afraid and then they cheat and then you can throw breaking balls. I got a lot of confidence in that. I feel like it’s all there. I don’t necessarily know what they’re going to say about me switching my mechanics up but I don’t think you can really argue with results. It’s what got me there and hopefully will get me back.
Robert Brender: When you say “switching mechanics,” did you get rid of the glove tap completely?
Vic Black: No, I’ve always had that. I actually widened out my stance and dropped my hands. From AA to AAA those are the mechanics I’ve had. It still has the glove tap but it’s in a more relaxed, athletic position rather than standing straight up, which I think works for guys but usually they’re not super high energy. I just think I have more energy built up than most pitchers. I consider myself just an athlete not a pitcher so this is what works best, to be in an athletic position and wider stance and get the sign and go instead of up tall and trying to execute mechanics.
Robert Brender: When you heard about Bobby Parnell’s injury, what was your reaction?
Vic Black: My first reaction was just being pissed for Bobby. That’s something that no one wishes to see happen to anybody. He just got over the neck deal. I know it was frustrating for him. I’ve looked at it as I’m supposed to be here right now and this is what happened and I’ll get my opportunity when I get my opportunity. They’re (the bullpen) doing great. We don’t wish for anyone to go down or anyone to do bad because they don’t have to for you to get an opportunity. At the same time, I’m just getting innings under my belt here because I’m back to normal. I’m not worried about that. I’ll get people out. Just waiting for that opportunity again.
Robert Brender: Has the organization given you an idea what they want to see before you get called back up to the big leagues or when it will happen?
Vic Black: No, I haven’t gotten a time table from anyone. I haven’t gotten a plan. I’m probably going to sit down with Wally (Backman) in the next day or so and try to get a grasp of what the view is and what we’re trying to do because the big picture is to get back there but, at the same time, if you’re looking at that every day your trip here is just going to be miserable.
Brender’s entire interview with Black is available in the audio player below: