Published June 10, 2010
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan, fireballing reliever?
Hey, he's no Nolan, but the New York Jets coach thinks he might have some talent in his right arm. Especially after tossing the ceremonial first pitch before a Mets game Tuesday night.
"No left-handed batter was going to touch my pitch," he said Thursday with a big grin. "The movement is filthy, is how we'd have to put it."
The pitch easily reached the plate with some zip, but sailed out of the strike zone.
And, in case anyone missed it, Ryan opened his news conference after practice by playing video of his pitch to his catcher, general manager Mike Tannenbaum. He also broke down his mechanics, and used a split screen of himself and Washington rookie Stephen Strasburg, who struck out 14 in his big league debut Tuesday night.
"Two stars, very similar," Ryan said as the video played. "Two outstanding pitchers. Look at the movement here. Yep, two great ones."
Ryan wore a No. 30 Mets jersey — a Nolan Ryan throwback — and threw a two-seamer.
"It was clocked at, what, 45 (mph), maybe?" he said.
Ryan said the difference between Strasburg's success and his own clearly was the catcher.
"Look at the movement of my catcher," Ryan said, referring to Tannenbaum. "This clearly is a strike. I just need it framed up a little bit."
After watching himself and Strasburg side by side, Ryan broke things down.
"You'll see the form is not exactly where we want it," he said, laughing, "but we've got to understand something: The kid is just a rookie."
And, just to further show how unhittable he could be, Ryan had Pittsburgh's Lastings Milledge superimposed into the video of his pitch.
"I know what you're thinking, too, against a lefty batter, without question that's strike three no matter who's at the plate," he said. "If it was a right-handed batter, what would it have been? So, we made it against a right-handed batter."
Milledge, as he did against Strasburg on Tuesday night, swung through the pitch.
"Yep, it's still a strikeout," Ryan said. "Swings, misses and it's a strikeout."
Ryan said he had never been on a mound before he threw one warmup pitch — a perfect strike, he said — in a hitting cage before the real one.
"I'm like, 'There's nothing to this,'" he said. "Then, you get on that mound and it's like, 'There's a lot of space here. Oh, boy.'"
And, don't worry Jets fans, Ryan's not leaving for a baseball career. At least, not now.
"Yeah, I'm going to stay," he said. "Some of these athletes, you've got to make that tough decision."