Hunter Strickland was a central figure during the Giants’ 2017 season as a frequent contributor out of the bullpen.
Despite posting a 2.64 ERA in 61.1 innings of work, Strickland struggled with consistency at times.
His season was further marred after he plunked Bryce Harper in the hip with a 98 mph fastball, inciting a sizable scuffle between the Nationals and Giants. Both Strickland and Harper were suspended for their roles in the melee.
There was talk of the Giants trading Strickland after the incident, but the team ultimately elected to keep him on the roster, hoping he would continue to be a centerpiece of their bullpen for the future.
Strickland joined KNBR Tonight with Kevin Frandsen and Drew Hoffar Thursday, and first gave his opinion on what it will be like to work with new pitching coach Curt Young.
“First and foremost, it’s kind of hard to replace a guy like Rags,” Strickland said. “I was very fortunate to be under his belt for a couple years there. You know, so we’re definitely going to miss him. But I think to have a new face, it’s not a bad thing at all. I’m definitely looking forward to it, to getting to know Curt.”
Soon after, he responded when asked if grudges, like the one he held against Harper, motivate him when facing hitters.
“No,” Strickland said. “Honestly, I don’t think about those things. We’re all competitors out there. We’re playing the game, trying to support our family, and just doing something we love. But as far as holding grudges as stuff, I completely get that it seems that way. And I think that (we) as human beings, we make mistakes. I’ll be the first to own up to that being one of my mistakes. So there are some regrets in certain circumstances that I’ve done, but like I said, we’re human beings, we’re out there, we’re competing, and it’s just kind of one of those things you have to learn from.”
Finally, he noted that he worked with MLB Hall of Famer John Smoltz in the offseason, and expanded on what they focused on.
“He kind of worked with me a little bit on the slider, and just trying to hone in on that pitch, my secondary stuff,” Strickland said. “And then just more so for me, just relaxing the upper body a little bit, and letting the mobility and stuff just take care of itself. And the whole less is more concept, and saying, you know, I’ve heard that basically through my whole career. Just trying to really hone in on that, and to master that is one thing that I’ve definitely worked on. But you know, he also talked a little bit about setting guys up in different scenarios and things like that.”
Listen to the interview below. To hear Strickland on the coaching staff change, what motivates him, and his offseason work with Smoltz, skip to the 0:45 mark.