Congrats to Mariano Rivera, Johnny Damon, and Tim Wakefield for accomplishing some nice round number milestones.
The Sandman, Mo Rivera, put his 600th win to bed last night. He's now 1 save behind Trevor Hoffman for the all-time record, something he'll surely break and add plenty to. When he decides to hang the cleats up, the Hall of Fame assuredly awaits 5 years after that.
Johnny Damon swiped the 400th base of his career yesterday. He's getting old, but still flashes some power and speed at times and remains a useful player.
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield finally won his 200th win. The 45 year old might not pitch next year, but he's had one helluva ride relying on one pitch.
Different Types of Pitching Machines
Going to the batting cages is a rite of passage for any aspiring pro, but baseball players don’t have just one generic, typical type of batting cage to go to. The pitching machines available at batting cages vary from place to place, and the machines themselves are often designed differently (and for different purposes). Knowing what to expect before you face down one of these machines will help you better prepare for your practice against it. In this article, we’ll attempt to break down some different pitching machine types, so that you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll be facing come first pitch.
One major area to focus on is automation. These days, it’s quite common to find many batting cages equipped with fully automated batting cages. Automatic feeding of the balls has quite a few advantages. First, the player doesn’t have to feed the balls in himself (which would be a time-wasting nightmare), nor does the player have to bring someone else along for the specific purpose of feeding balls to the machine. Also, the player will be better able to expect periodic timing between the machine’s pitches, so that he can practice his own timing at the plate while waiting to swing.
Hand-fed pitching machines don’t offer the luxury of automation, but they have their own advantages as well. While you’ll need to bring someone else along to operate the machine (unless you only want to hit one ball at a time), the other person can be helpful. For example, while an automated machine’s going to keep hurling balls at you for the designated period regardless of what you want, the other person can simply stop feeding balls to the machine if you want to work on your swings for a second, or need a breather for a moment. If you always have someone with you willing to train, you may want to consider a hand-fed machine for that reason alone.
Other differences affect the speed of the pitches. If you’re preparing for the big leagues, you’ll obviously want a machine set to fast-pitch settings at their maximum. For rookie players, lower settings on fast-pitch machines (and for the real novices, slow-pitch machines themselves) will probably work better for their need. If you’re practicing for softball (in which case you shouldn’t train on baseball pitching machines), there are even specific softball pitching machines available for use.