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Fan Forum

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Don Cooper Q&A
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Don Cooper
White Sox Pitching Coach Don Cooper answers fans questions.

Once a pitcher makes it to the major leagues, how much do you typically tweak his mechanics?
David M., Chicago, IL

Hopefully, you don't have to tweak anything and all the mechanics are taken care of. You have to look and make sure he is doing three things: standing tall, staying back and staying closed. If he's doing those things, nothing has to be tweaked.

My son is eight years old and pitching for the first time. I want him to have fun and be able to play for many years
what should he do at this age?
Mom, Mt. Prospect, IL

Let him play, and play a lot of catch. Give him a lot of hitting and a lot of groundballs. Let him run around and also play a lot of sports, not just baseball. Practicing hitting, throwing and catching are the three things he needs to do if he is interested in playing ball.

Of all the White Sox pitchers you have coached, who showed the most improvement during their time with you?
Michelle K.

A couple of the guys we have going right now. The jury is still out, but I'm really hoping that it will be Danks and Floyd.

What made you decide to be a pitching coach after your playing career ended? - Tony L., Barrington, IL

I was thinking about it during my career because I wasn't pitching so well back then. I always saw myself doing something in sports. If it wasn't here, I would probably be a high school coach or back in New York as a cop, fireman or postal service worker. I always pictured myself in athletics
but a few things other than that crossed my mind.

Gavin Floyd looks like a new pitcher this year. To what do you attribute his success? - Stephanie S., Winfield, IL

It sounds so simple, but he is throwing so many more strikes than before. To be specific, he is throwing his fastball for strikes and he is also more consistent with his other pitches. When you throw a lot of strikes, you have a chance to be good.

What was the highlight of the 2005 World Series run for you? Congrats again! - Liz A., Chicago, IL

The very last out, when you finally get it done and you realize for that one minute, you are the best in the world. Not just the state, area or district, but the world. It really meant a lot to us.

When a starting pitcher starts to get in trouble and you head to the mound (before Ozzie) to discuss the situation, is there anything specific the pitcher tells you that makes you decide to leave him in or take him out? And what role does the catcher play in this?
Barb D., Naperville, IL

The catcher doesn't play much of a role. Sometimes I'll ask the catcher how a guy is throwing but that is very rare. We can see it for ourselves. When I go to the mound, if the guy is giving us some positive thoughts and positive energy and he believes in himself, maybe we will leave him in the game. More often than not, we have our minds made up before we go out there. It's not that we don't have confidence in the pitcher that is out there, we have confidence in the guy we are bringing in.

When on the road, are there aspects of certain ballparks that cause you to make pitching adjustments for only that particular ballpark? Any examples?
Eric, Buffalo Grove, IL

Not really. People right away think about Fenway (Park in Boston), but if we change what we do best, that can hurt us. We have to work to our strengths and we really can't pitch to the park. The park doesn't come into it.

How would you describe the relationship between you and Ozzie, and the manager and pitching coach in general?
Mark V., Bloomington, IL

I don't know about anywhere else, but I'm not sure it could be any better than right here. My feeling is it works pretty well here. We have great communication and we say what we want, when we want. We're able to be ourselves and that is a very good thing to have. I don't know how it works in any other organization.

Why aren't old tricks like triple pumps, pitching from different spots in the rubber and quick pitches used these days?
Robert B., Milwaukee, WI

We are moving on different spots on the rubber. If you watch our guys, some of them are moving for certain hitters and certain mechanics. Triple pumps don't help you throw harder or for more strikes. It may upset the hitters timing. When "El Duque" (Orlando Hernandez) was here, he would quick pitch. Any slide step from Buehrle or Danks is like a quick pitch.

How important is pitch count and is that why there are less complete games and more specialized bullpen roles?
John C., Boise, ID.

There are less complete games because you want to keep guys healthy all year. To pile on extra pitches just doesn't make sense. If a guy goes down, that investment goes down the drain. You have to keep your front-line guys healthy.

After 21 years in the organization, how exciting was it to become the White Sox pitching coach and did you ever expect that to happen?
Jaime M., Chicago, IL

In 1995, I was the interim coach here for a while, and I did not enjoy it. After going back down to the minor leagues, I am very lucky. I love it and I felt very fortunate.

If the Sox pitching staff holds up like you expect, do you think the team has a chance to go all the way this season? GO SOX!
Mike, Peoria, IL

Yes we do. If the pitching holds up, we have a chance.