When John Wetteland offers advice to young pitchers, the example he uses is a hitter none of them ever faced – Tony Gwynn..
Wetteland, the Mariners bullpen coach, came up in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, and so faced and had the chance to watch what Gwynn did during games, and long, long before them.
"I tell kids, 'Find the one thing you know you do best, and keep it. Hone it. Then you can add on if you want, but always keep that one thing strong,'" Wetteland said. "I remember coming to the park one day about 1:30 p.m., going down to the dugout, and there was Tony, taking batting practice.
"He had one guy throwing to him, and one guy in left field with a bucket. There were a few balls down the line, a few in left center, but everything else he hit to left field. Pitch after pitch, didn't matter where it was or what it was, he lined it to left field."
That, Wetteland said, was Gwynn's way of holding on to one thing he knew he could always do – drive a ball to left field, his opposite field.
"He could hit the ball anywhere, but he worked at that one thing first, then everything else," Wetteland said. "If your gift is your fastball, then learn to command it. Whatever else happens, you'll always be able to rely on that pitch. Find the one thing you do best and improve it, then work on whatever else you want."