WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hector Neris’ first two pitches after the World Baseball Classic sparked concern from Martín Maldonado. The veteran catcher stopped Neris’ outing as he summoned pitching coach Josh Miller and athletic coach Eric Velazquez to the mound during Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins.
Neris threw some warmup pitches and stayed in the game. He got his three outs, but didn’t hit his normal speed. According to stadium radar, Neris was about 150-150 km/h. Last season, Neris averaged 94.3 mph on his four-seam fastball and 94.5 mph on his sinker.
“Everything is fine, everything is normal,” Neris said. “It was a field trip. You want to see if everything is connected, but (Maldonado) saw a tone that he didn’t think was good, so he came to talk to me. Everything is normal.”
Neris’ exit came two days after starter Cristian Javier showed a similar start against the Miami Marlins, his first since returning from the World Baseball Classic. Speed on all three pitches by Javier was at least two miles per hour slower than the regular season average.
Javier said later that there was nothing wrong. The fact that the Astros let him pitch four innings and 76 pitches only reinforces the point. Coach Dusty Baker speculated that both players might be in the same predicament: trying to compensate in a low-adrenaline environment after playing such high-octane games for Team Dominican Republic in the WBC.
“That was blockbuster baseball. There may be (a correlation),” Baker said. “Both feel good, both say it’s nothing. They are quite honest with us. We think it’s nothing.