BRADENTON, Fla. — Tuesday was the first day of spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates, a day that featured more than 100 players invited to camp at Pirate City.
Among them was left-handed pitcher Zac Fuesser.
Fuesser — or Fuse, as he is known in the Pirates organization — looks forward to burning batters from the bullpen. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound South Carolina native is a man of few words, and prefers to let his pitching do the talking.
The 23-year-old pitched the entire 2013 season from the bullpen of the Class-A Advanced Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League, where he had a solid season with a 3.18 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.
“Last year they dropped my arm angle which was way more efficient and I had a lot more success at it.”
Marauders pitching coach Justin Meccage, who is also at the Pirates’ camp, wants to see better consistency than his left-hander showed last season.
“I think for Zac it’s just [expectations] to build on last year,” said Meccage. “He went through some changes physically last year that he was a little bit inconsistent with and hopefully over the course of the off-season he solidified those adjustments and he comes into camp and is a little bit more consistent with those.”
Ever the outdoorsman, Fuesser enjoys hunting and horse riding. As a result, the southpaw pitcher has had some injuries, including two separate finger mishaps. In one instance, Fuesser slammed a finger on his pitching hand while closing a toolbox that caused a bone infection, which could have potentially resulted in amputation.
“Those injuries that I’ve had are kind of crazy, and [they were] off the field injuries,” he said. “[I’ve] learned to be more cautious and get everything fixed really good.”
However, Meccage doesn’t see Fuesser’s past problems as an issue moving forward.
“Over the course of last year he hasn’t had many injuries, but he may have had some in the past,” said Meccage. “I think he came in [to camp] decent shape.”
Meccage believes that the most important aspect of spring training is “to get in shape, get ready physically, that’s the biggest thing; both mentally and physically get ready for anything.”
When it comes to Fuesser’s fitness level: “we’ll see, right now I think he probably is getting close,” said Meccage. “He threw his first side today and it went okay so we’ll find out here in the next few days.”
While it is impossible to predict the future, Fuesser will probably spend this season as a part of the Bradenton bullpen, with the opportunity for a call-up during this season.
“I would imagine that [Fuesser would fit in] some sort of relief whether it be middle or short,” said Meccage. “We’re not sure yet, but I would imagine at this point that’s where he fits.”