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Friday, June 09, 2006

 

Luke's Mental Game

The Kansas City Star published a good article highlighting a side of Luke that I never took into consideration before: his mental game. I never thought about it when seeing him in Tennessee but he always looked confident and prepared on the mound. Here are some highlights:

The night before the Royals picked him No. 1 in the draft, Luke T Hochevar pitched against the New York Yankees. It wasn’t Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who got rocked for eight runs in less than two innings on Monday night, at least in Hochevar’s mind.

Hochevar (pronounced HO-chay-vur) sat on his couch in Knoxville, Tenn., and visualized every pitch Beckett threw as if it were his own. His buddies, who were watching with him, could only laugh. There goes Luke with his Jedi mind tricks again.

“I catch grief all the time,” says Hochevar, who pitched three years at Tennessee. “They’ll be like: ‘Luke, go do some mental exercises. Go mentally prepare for your simulated bullpen.’ That’s fine, as long as I’m prepared.”

I thought that was neat, but this was the part of the article that's really convincing:

“He was polished,” says Tennessee pitching coach Mike Bell, “but always seeking knowledge.”

Bell was astonished with Hochevar’s three-hour workouts.

“You hear stories about the professional guys — Clemens, Schilling,” Bell says. “But on the collegiate level, I’ve never seen anything close.”

Hochevar started meeting twice a week with Tennessee director of mental training, Joe Whitney, during his sophomore year, and he hasn’t stopped since. During the Tennessee season, they’d go over the opposing lineup at each meeting, and Hochevar said he felt as if he had faced each batter twice before the game even started.

“He has one of the strongest mental games of anyone I’ve worked with,” Whitney says. “He’s at the top of the list as far as his ability to compete under pressure, to prepare for a game and his ability to stay in the present.”

•••

“I’m going to be the hardest worker, not just in the minor leagues but also at the major-league level,” Hochevar says. “I take so much pride in how I get after it. I expect that out of myself.”



And in addition to that article, I found an interview he did after the draft with Royals Corner

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