Thyago Vieira won’t soon forget his first meeting with Pat Listach.
“It’s time to put your big boy pants on,” Listach told the 24-year-old pitcher.
The Rainiers manager then followed with a question, wanting to know if Viera had watched any of the recent Seattle Mariners games.
Vieira , promoted to Tacoma from Double-A Arkansas on July 19, replied that he had, which prompted more questions from Listach. And how many games had he seen Mariners closer Edwin Diaz pitch?
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“Four in a row, for sure,” Vieira said. To which Listach added, four days in a row and five out of six.
“I said, ‘Guess what?’ ” Listach recalled. “If you go to the big leagues, Scott Servais is gonna expect you to do the same thing.”
If might not be the right word to describe Vieira ’s chances at pitching in the majors. When might be more appropriate considering the fastball that Vieira possesses.
Listach admits he hasn’t often seen the triple-digit fastball that Vieira can throw.
“It’s incredible stuff,” Listach said. “He’s got an incredible arm.”
Vieira, Seattle’s ninth-ranked prospect, touched 100 mph a couple of times before completing a save in his first Cheney Stadium appearance back in July.
As the final out was recorded, Vieira punched his mustard-colored glove before letting out a victorious shout.
“It’s really amazing when you come into a save situation,” Vieira said. “My energy comes up really high; that’s why I like playing in a situation like that. Helping the team win is most important for me.”
When told he did something Listach hadn’t seen in years, Vieira smiled and chuckled.
“That’s really cool and really funny, too,” Vieira said. “I know the progress from my hard work, but God gave me the talent.”
His fastball, which hovers in the high 90s with the capability of reaching 102 mph, is his biggest strength.
In two weeks since being called up, Veiria has pitched seven innings across four appearances for Tacoma. He has a 2.57 ERA, two saves in as many opportunities and has given up only three hits.
He hasn’t pitched back-to-back games yet – each appearance has been separated by at least two days of rest – but if Listach’s words are any indication, more appearances are on the way.
“We’re not gonna abuse him and run him into the ground, but he’s gotta be able to go back-to-back days, and we’re gonna make him do that here eventually,” Listach said.
Vieira, who also pitched in this summer’s Futures Game in Miami, knows he’s in Triple-A to refine his game as he awaits an opportunity for the ultimate promotion. He said one of the biggest steps he must make is avoiding falling behind in the count. He said he knows he has to be more consistent in the strike zone because, at this level, players are quick to make adjustments.
Although Vieira has pointed out things he must do to improve personally, he has emphasized winning most, which is exactly what Listach is looking for.
“It is about development, but it’s more about winning,” Listach said. “We play the game to win it. If we use you the right ways and give you a day’s rest, you’ll develop. You’ll develop into a big league pitcher, and I think he will.”