Advice from El Tiante works for Nelson

May, 30, 2010
BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox reliever Joe Nelson says he can’t remember the last time he reached 91 miles per hour on the radar gun.

Actually, he does.

The 35-year-old righthanded finesse pitcher reached back and recorded a 90-plus fastball during his 1-2-3 ninth inning of work to help Boston to an 8-1 victory over the Royals on Sunday at Fenway Park. Nelson admitted after the game that he believes the last time he was clocked at that speed was 2008 when he was with the Florida Marlins.

So what made the difference Sunday?

Former Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant was in the clubhouse on Saturday night, pulled Nelson aside and gave him some advice. Of course, “El Tiante” is known for his unique delivery and thought it was about time Nelson gave it a bid.

“Louie said, ‘Hey, you need a little hip turn. It got me 172 wins. I think you need a little something in there,’” Nelson said. “So I played catch with it today and I took it into the game. My velocity was a little better and changeup was a little better, so now I just need to fine tune it.”

Nelson’s velocity did improve and his changeup was a filthy 79 mph.

This is Nelson’s second stint in the Red Sox organization and he’s clearly having fun with it. His entrance song is Miley Cyrus’s teen anthem “Party in the USA”, which is getting a lot of positive feedback. It’s certainly a big difference from the song the reliever came out to for most of his professional career: Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”.

His daughter asked him to use Cyrus’ song, so Nelson changed it. Tiant asked him to use his hip turn, so he tweaked his delivery. Both are working for him right now.

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?