Notes: Fossum introduces new quirk
Light-hearted eephus pitch expands lefty's versatility
ST. PETERSBURG -- In Friday night's game against the Royals, Rays left-hander Casey Fossum put on display his "Fossum Flip" -- a curveball he threw to Mike Sweeney for strike one in the first inning. The pitch went across the plate at 46 mph.
Sweeney stood and watched the pitch, then smiled.
Fossum credits his ever-improving ability to change pitches as the reason he has enjoyed improvement of late. He now sports a 6-8 record with a 3.83 ERA, but perhaps most impressive is the fact he has 88 strikeouts and just 34 walks across 103 1/3 innings.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, the question put to others on the staff was simple: Will you incorporate the "Fossum Flip" into your pitching repertoire?
"I throw 97 [mph] -- what do you think?" said right-hander Seth McClung with a smile. "Maybe [Doug] Waechter. He looks like a flip guy."
Waechter smiled when told about McClung's comment.
"There's no chance I'll [throw the pitch]," he said. "I'd have to slow down my whole delivery."
Don't look for fellow southpaw Scott Kazmir to start throwing the flip any time soon, either.
"I'll leave it to Fossum. It's hard to throw," Kazmir said. "I've tried throwing it in the bullpen. You have to keep the same motion."
Rays manager Lou Piniella offered a chuckle at the mention of the pitch.
"The thing is [that] nobody hits it," Piniella said. "You notice everyone laughs, but it's strike one."
While the other pitchers on the staff aren't ready to start using the flip, they do marvel at Fossum.
"He kind of goes out there like one of those old-time pitchers," McClung said. "It's like a Wiffle Ball game."
Waechter noted that Fossum has been throwing the pitch since Little League, and added: "I swear, he's got that softball move, where he steps back three steps after the pitch."
Fossum now has the ability to throw any given pitch at speeds ranging from 40 mph to 95 mph. Will the flip venture down into the 30s?
"I don't put anything past Fossum," McClung said.
Gomes on Gomes: Jonny Gomes' brother, Joey, has been having some success at Class A Visalia, where he went into Sunday's action hitting .302 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs, including a 20-game hit streak.
Jonny said he is very close to his brother, who is a year older, but he did not call him while he was in the midst of the streak.
"You've got to respect a streak," Gomes said.
Joey got started in professional baseball later than his younger brother after completing college at Santa Clara.
In addition to being close, Joey and Jonny have more than a family resemblance.
"We're both free swingers," Jonny said.
Even though Jonny is the younger brother, he has been more than happy to lend some advice.
"My advice to him is that his home runs and RBIs look good on paper," Jonny said. "But he's playing [Class] A ball. In this organization, you've got to go above and beyond. You've just got to keep going hard to get anywhere."
Jonny and Joey are built the same and look the same.
"People think we're twins," Jonny said.
And the age-old question that has been put to brothers since the beginning of time, who would win a fight between the brothers?
"I don't know, but it wouldn't be a quick fight," Jonny said.
On deck: The Rays will have an off-day on Monday before beginning a 12-game road trip with an 8:05 p.m. ET contest on Tuesday against the Rangers at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Right-hander Seth McClung (1-6, 6.63 ERA) will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Chris Young (8-6, 5.54 ERA). The Rays split two games with the Rangers in April at Tropicana Field.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.