Dan Duquette’s latest move as the Orioles’ new executive vice president of baseball operations is hiring a sports psychologist who, according to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com will “provide mental-performance services.”
Ghiroli reports that the sports psychologist, Seth Kaplan, will focus on working with pitchers and Duquette noted that he’ll attempt to improve “mental toughness.”
Kaplan, who’s previously worked with the military, has already met individually with most of the pitching staff and based on Brian Matusz’s collapse last season he’d presumably be a big part of the plans.
Zach Britton seemed enthused about the hiring, saying: “We never had anybody we could really go to or talk to before.” Considering even a highly paid sports psychologist would probably earn only a fraction of the MLB minimum salary it seems like a worthwhile investment.
The Padres announced on Sunday that the club signed pitcher Jordan Lyles to a one-year major league contract with a club option for 2019. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Lyles will earn $750,000 in 2018. Pitcher Travis Wood was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Lyles.
Lyles, 27, had miserable results between the Rockies and Padres last season, compiling an aggregate 7.75 ERA with a 55/22 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings. While he specifically gave up 24 earned runs in 23 innings across five starts with the Padres, it was a small sample. A full season at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, as opposed to Colorado’s Coors Field, might help revitalize his career.
Wood, 30, went to the Padres at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Royals this past season. Overall, the lefty posted an aggregate 6.80 ERA with a 65/45 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. He’ll earn $6.5 million this season and has an $8 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout for 2019. So, the Padres are just eating $7.5 million minus the league minimum, assuming Wood latches on elsewhere.