Mariners Insider Blog

Some days you're Caviar, some days you're not

Every coach in baseball knows that once spring training begins, endless hours of throwing batting practice begin.

Some coaches throw hard, some throw through aching elbows and tender shoulders and no two throw exactly alike. Which why in Camp Mariner, bench coach Ty Van Berkleo has The Grading System.

The elite pitching group is Caviar.

The next best group – considered good but not great – is Calamari.

Struggle on the mound and you wind up in the third group, Chicken Wings.

And throw terrible, or not at all, and you're … well … a Dog-Bleep Sandwich.

Without the bleep.

"He tells me I'm Caviar," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "But he could just be kissing up."

Wakamatsu threw BP to the catchers Tuesday and almost every pitch was put in play. That's one way to judge: How many balls are in the batting cage after you've thrown. The more that are there, the fewer strikes you threw.

Who's on Van Berkleo's list?

"Don and Pedro Griffol are Caviar, they're just so smooth. Probably Beluga Caviar," Van Berkleo said. "I'm Calamari, although on some days I throw like I belong with the Chicken Wings. Phil (Plantier) and Alonzo (Powell) are Calamari, too."

A few of the older minor league coaches in camp are Chicken Wings. Who's in the sandwich category?

"Well, Roger Hansen can't throw at all," Van Berkleo said. "And Tim Tolman can't thow either. So they're on the Dog-Bleep Sandwich list."

And that's after just four days of camp. As the spring moves on, things can change.

"A lot of Chicken Wings get worse, and some Calamari guys can fall all the way to the Sandwich level on any given day," Van Berkleo said. "But Wak? He's always going to be Caviar."

Yes, Van Berkleo's a character. And yes, he's definitely kissing up