Luis Severino aims to fix pitch tipping ahead of first Mets season

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Thursday, January 11, 2024

NEW YORK --Luis Severino worried about whether he was tipping batters to his fastball and changeup last season, a flaw the 29-year-old right-hander hopes to correct before he reports to the New York Mets for spring training.

"There's a lot of things that I think I was doing wrong. I always have problems with ... tipping and stuff like that," Severino said Wednesday during a news conference the Mets held on Zoom to discuss his $13 million, one-year contract. "I think I need to address that now so when I go on the mound when the season starts, I just need to focus on pitching and forget about (whether) my glove is too high or too low."

New center fielder Harrison Bader also was on the call to discuss his $10.5 million, one-year deal. And president of baseball operations David Stearns spoke publicly with media members for the first time since Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto turned down the Mets for a $325 million, 12-year contract with theLos Angeles Dodgerson Dec. 27.

"I think by the time we got towards the end of that process, we recognized that the preferences were probably in L.A.," Stearns said. "But we certainly had an obligation to put our best foot forward in everything we did. I think we did that as an organization. I think we were very competitive. I think we demonstrated our sincerity throughout the process, and we didn't get the player, and certainly that's disappointing, but that's going to happen at times."

New York failed to reach the 2023 playoffs despite a record payroll and has made only modest moves since Stearns took over baseball operations in October. The team has a pending $28 million, two-year contract with left-hander Sean Manaea after reaching a $2 million, one-year deal with infielder Joey Wendle and acquiring right-hander Adrian Houser and outfielder Tyrone Taylor in a trade with Milwaukee. Right-hander Yacksel Ríos agreed Wednesday to a minor league contract.

"I love that our fan base wants us to sign everyone out there," Stearns said. "I think that means that what this organization has done over the last couple of years has raised the bar and has set high expectations, and that's a great thing. We want high expectations. We want our fans passionately engaged and we want them really to demand excellence."

He said the team's strategy "certainly includes the big-ticket premium free agents when those are the right opportunities."

Severino and Bader spoke from separate sites in Florida. Both had beards, a contrast to their clean-shaven looks that complied with the New York Yankees' grooming code when they played across town.

Severino was 54-37 with a 3.79 ERA in eight seasons with the Yankees before his deal with the Mets was announced Dec. 1.

"I was thinking I was going to die a Yankee," he said.

A two-time All-Star, Severino went 4-8 with a 6.65 ERA in 18 starts and one relief appearance last year.

"One of the main things that I'm hoping to solve this offseason is sleep," Severino said. "I was a really bad sleeper my whole life, so I think there's something in there. I talked to a sleep doctor about it."

Bader returned home to New York after spending a little more than a year in pinstripes with the Yankees. He was acquired from St. Louis in an August 2022 trade for pitcher Jordan Montgomery and then claimed off waivers by Cincinnati on Aug. 31 last year. The 29-year-old hit .232 with seven homers and 40 RBIs in 2023. He had sports hernia surgery on Sept. 28.

"I have never in my life been kicked harder in the jaw than I did kind of rolling into this offseason, purely just from an athletic standpoint -- nothing emotional," he said. "The feeling I had simply walking around my apartment, getting into cabs, walking down subway steps, that feeling is something I never want to feel again maybe until when it's all said and done and you rip the jersey off my back and I can't play anymore."

Bader was limited to 86 games in 2022 by plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He didn't make his 2023 debut until May 2 because of a strained left oblique, then went on the injured list because of a strained right hamstring and a strained right groin.

"Clearly something was off," Bader said. "And when one thing goes, you try to compensate with speed, and then something else goes. And before you know it, you're playing catch-up with yourself."

Bader, a Gold Glove winner in 2021 with the Cardinals, figures to play center field on a regular basis, with Brandon Nimmo moving to left.

"I think I've had two months at a time, I've had weeks, I've had certainly series where I've definitely tapped into my potential in this league," Bader added. "My No. 1 goal is to tap into my potential every day and see how it looks after six months at this level."

Bader and Mets star first baseman Pete Alonso were teammates at the University of Florida in 2014 and '15.

"Pete's really that glue to it all," Bader said.