For any baseball player, the ultimate prize is winning a World Series, and New Britain Bees relief pitcher Manny Delcarmen has reached that mountain top.
Delcarmen was an integral part of the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series in 2007 against the Colorado Rockies. It was his best season as a major leaguer, with a 2.05 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, both career bests.
“You know, a World Series ain’t too bad” said Delcarmen, who joined the Bees this offseason. “And you know, I had a great year that year. Being a part of that and being part of a bunch of guys with the same goal and to win the World Series, and to be a World Series champion, is awesome. I just hope I can perform here and get that opportunity again.”
After a fantastic 2007 season and a solid campaign in 2008, Delcarmen’s production went down the following two seasons. He was traded from the Red Sox to the Rockies in 2010. That was also the last big league season for the relief pitcher. With injuries driving him away from the majors, Delcarmen has bounced around from affiliated minor league baseball to the Mexican leagues to the Independent League and now in New Britain in the Atlantic League. But the 36-year-old still has the fire to get another chance in Major League Baseball.
To do so, Delcarmen has refined his pitching style and has developed new pitches since he is no longer the hard-throwing hurler he used to be.
“I used to be a guy that could throw 96-plus. I can still get it up there, but not consistently,” Delcarmen said. “So now I’ve developed a sinker, which is really good because everybody in the big leagues seems to throw over 95 and you just need something off your four-seam. So if I’m ahead in the count, I have a good two-seam to get some ground balls, which I’ve always been a fly ball guy. So now I can get some ground ball double plays and get out of the inning.”
Delcarmen also continues to draw inspiration from what he learned from former Red Sox reliever and teammate Mike Timlin.
“I used to throw like 25 pitches warming up, but Mike was like, ‘Dude, you have to shorten it up to like eight pitches. So I always bring up Mike Timlin because he definitely taught me a lot coming up through the organization and my first couple of years in the big leagues.”
Delcarmen brings plenty of mental toughness to the New Britain bullpen, and is ready to embrace the pressure that comes in the later innings.
“I don’t crumble under pressure,” Delcarmen said. “I love coming in with bases loaded, nobody out. Any jam or situation, I like coming in to hold them. My favorite statistic has always been to come in and hold the runs and I’ve always taken pride in that.”
The poor pitching out of the bullpen was one of the biggest reasons for the Bees’ 58-81 record last season, which put them in last place. The New Britain bullpen combined to go 22-29 with a 4.64 ERA in 2017. But the pitching staff as a whole has 10 new faces, which gives hope to manager Wally Backman the Bees will be able to do a better job closing out games.
Backman hasn’t seen a bona fide closer develop in his bullpen yet, however, he has plenty of options, especially with pitchers like Delcarmen.
“We really do have probably five guys that can close,” Backman said. “Most teams are worried about the seventh inning. I’m not even worried about the sixth right now. On paper and from what I’ve seen in spring training, if we get a starter through five innings, I really believe we can shut the door. And that doesn’t happen very often.”
While Delcarmen said his ultimate goal is to get back into affiliated baseball, he is excited about a revamped Bees roster.
“I think we have a really good team pitching-wise and hitting-wise,” he said. “We haven’t had a chance to play that many games but Wally is going to have a lot of guys to rely on and it’s going to be an exciting season. The fans should know the Bees will be in contention and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”