Courtesy of Bill Hass with “Bill on Baseball”, at www.gsohoppers.com:
Robert Morey(University of Virginia Cavaliers/Greensboro Grasshoppers) would be the first to tell you that for most of this season, he hadn’t been pitching anywhere near his potential for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He was losing twice as much as he was winning and his ERA was hovering around 7.00. Not exactly what he or the Florida Marlins expected when they drafted him in the fifth round out of Virginia last summer.
But recently, Morey took a big step toward returning to the way he knows he can pitch. And in his last two outings, he has thrown 13 1/3 innings, allowed only two runs and picked up two wins. The second came Tuesday night in a 9-3 win over Charleston. Morey pitched six innings and gave up eight hits and two walks but limited the damage to two runs.
“It’s been a mental change,” he said. “The first half of the season I was mentally weak. I talked to the (Marlins’) team psychologist and he got me back to pitching in an attack mode instead of pitching defensively.”
That showed up in the first inning Tuesday when he gave up two hits and a walk and had runners on first and third with one out and one run in. Earlier in the year, he might have given up two or three more runs. But this time he extracted himself without further damage. And that made an impression on manager Andy Haines.
“We stuck with him in the middle of the game because of what he showed us in the first inning,” Haines said. “It was a really good outing for him.”
Not every player responds to a team psychologist and it took some courage for Morey to become introspective and open up when he was approached.
“He got me to relax and have fun,” Morey said, “to realize that this is a game and also my career and to go out there with a more confident demeanor. This is how I felt last year, going out in that attack mode and pounding the strike zone. It’s exciting. I didn’t have my best stuff tonight but I gave the team a chance to win and that’s what a starting pitcher does.”
Morey also credited pitching coach Willie Glen with staying positive. It paid off in Savannah, when Morey pitched into the eighth inning without allowing a run.
“He controlled the game; it didn’t control him,” Glen said. “He saw what he’s capable of doing.”
NOTES FROM TUESDAY: The Hoppers played one of their best all-around games, with Chris Shafer and Jordan Conley pitching well in relief and the offense knocking out 14 hits. Isaac Galloway had two solo home runs and a double and drove in four runs. Ryan Fisher added a homer, a double, 3 RBIs and scored 3 runs. Noah Perio had 3 hits.
The defense came up with four outstanding plays. (1) Right fielder Marcell Ozuna threw out a runner at home plate in the fifth inning with catcher J.T. Realmuto doing a fine job of handling the one-hop throw and getting the tag down on the sliding runner in a close play. (2) Realmuto threw out a runner attempting to steal second base to end the sixth inning. (3) Third baseman Fisher leaped to his right to snag a hot line drive that appeared to be heading into the left field corner for extra bases in the seventh. (4) Galloway sprinted in and made a diving catch of a sinking line drive in the ninth inning.