Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly on MFB: New pitching coach Carl Willis 'focused on what your strengths are as a pitcher'

June 16, 2015 - 8:48 am

Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the team's struggles, his own pitching adjustments and his work with NIVEA Men. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page. Kelly talked about the difference in style between ex-pitching coach Juan Nieves, who was fired last month, and current coach Carl Willis. "Juan was a great guy. He was a good pitching coach," Kelly said. "He was more focused on scouting reports -- what the hitters don't hit, what this guy does against the slider, what do you do in certain situations. Carl's been awesome too. He's mainly focused on what your strengths are as a pitcher. If you're a sinker guy, you're not going to go out and throw four-seams at a team and try to beat them that way. He tries to focus on that other aspect of your game." Kelly was asked about Adam Wainwright from his time in St. Louis and what type of leader he was. On top of how great he was in St. Louis, he said even this year he sent him video to help him with his mechanics when he was struggling. "[Wainwright] was the best," Kelly said. "He's an on-field pitching coach. It was pretty neat to be a part of. Whenever I struggled or messed up with mechanics, he was always the first one there to help me. Even earlier this year, I gave up 21 runs in 21 innings and he saw a bunch of stuff wrong with mechanics and sent me over a couple of video clips and talked to me on the phone. He helped out a little bit right then and there to get me back on track." When asked about his struggles, Kelly discussed his continued role as a student of the game, both about himself and opposing hitters. "I haven't had a full year as a starting pitcher in the big leagues," he said. "So I'm just learning hitters and learning my stuff. Guys with velocity [can be] very easy to hit. I hit a double off of [Jeff] Samardzija at 98. I can do that stuff -- it's not very hard actually. It's just different kinds of mixes of pitches and locations. It's more about hitting spots and trying to locate with the fastball." With talk of Kelly moving to the bullpen as the Red Sox moved away from a six-man rotation, he talked about his stance on the switch. "I love starting. I love knowing when I'm gonna pitch," Kelly said. "That's where I am right now and that's where my main focus is. One day, eventually, if that happens in my career, of course I'm going to stay in the game and help get guys out and perform for my team." As Red Sox slog through a seven-game losing streak, Kelly was asked if manager John Farrell has lost control of the team. "No, obviously John has all the control," Kelly said. "As a player, it's just getting frustrated about how everything's been going. As a team we're not playing well and sometimes that gets the best of us. You've been trained your whole life to beat the other person, to always win and to always give your best no matter what. So when someone puts it into your game, whether you're doing good or bad, you're going to be mad always." Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at On expectations with the Red Sox: "Expectations haven't changed. We're trying to stick together and believe in ourselves. It's obviously been a not-so-good year for us. We haven't been performing the way our talent is capable of. When we got together yesterday, we mentioned that. We're not playing as well as we can -- when we're pitching well, we're not hitting well and when we're hitting well, we're not pitching well, or we're playing bad defense and not making plays. It's been a whole bunch of stuff, but we've got 95 some games left, so if we try to play every single one day by day, we'll do a lot better than we did at the beginning of this year." On consistently having meetings: "It's something that we all respect and pay attention to. It's part of the deal. When you're not playing as well as you'd like, it's good to talk about it and see what we can do better as a team and a group and a whole. We try to go over it as a group." On Dustin Pedroia's rant Monday on media criticism: "Some guys take it differently. Some guys can handle it and others just don't even pay attention. But that's just the way that Pedroia felt and that's how the team was feeling. He went on a bit of a rant yesterday." On this Red Sox pitching staff having an definitive on-field leader: "We all try to step in and help each other. If Rick [Porcello] is doing something wrong with mechanics or pitch selection, then we all talk as a group. [Adam Wainright] was just the main guy in St. Louis. He got that from Chris Carpenter and learned it from him." On what Wainwright showed Kelly that he was doing wrong: "Not to give away any scouting reports, but it had mainly to do with the arm slot. I was getting on the side of the ball and letting it flatten out and basically letting it run back over the middle of the plate. It was different on my off-speed pitches and now I'm trying to get it back up and it's been working so far." On Pedroia as an on-field coach: "Pedroia's a good on-field guy and clubhouse guy and manager. He's more of a, 'Hey man, let's mow some guys down,' if he feels like you're running through the mechanics or rushing too much. He's always good to have out there so a pitching coach doesn't have to walk to the mound. He'll come up and give a little rosin bag and say, 'Hey, just make the pitch right here,' or, 'Slow the game down a little bit.'" On Wade Miley and John Farrell's altercation in the dugout last Thursday: "I actually wasn't even in the dugout. I was actually watching scouting on their hitters. I wasn't in the dugout at the time but I saw what everyone else saw on TV. It was just a little bit of frustration out of him and that whole entire group on how we've been playing lately."