It’s all but certain Mike Leake will be on time today for his first start in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform as the right-hander has a large clock adorned to the top right of his locker in the clubhouse.
“We didn’t have any the first few days so we were all looking around for the time and I was going to order some on Amazon, but Adam beat me to it,” he explained. “I think Lance decided to put one up in my locker–maybe because I was complaining. I don’t know.”
Yes, the starting rotation wasted little time in bringing the newcomer Leake into their fold, although technically he had already delivered an opening salvo at the Winter Warm-Up about looking forward to teaching Adam Wainwright and the others how to hit.
“I think I’ll lean on him to keep me on my toes and I’ll keep him on his toes whether he wants me to or not,” smiled Leake, who has 6 home runs and a career .212 average. “I like to be jovial, I don’t like to be too serious.”
The friendly competition the Cardinals rotation has used for years to push each other is something welcomed yet different for Leake, who has started all but nine of his 172 games for the Cincinnati Reds.
“DiSclafani and I got along really well and Bronson and I were kind of able to do that,” he said. “Other than that, we really didn’t have too big a pushing each other around in Cincinnati. I look forward to it here–it’s part of the fun of keeping things light and not getting too grumpy.”
“I kind of got the vibe it was that way by playing with Skip Schumaker,” Leake added. “I think it’s part of the fun. Sometimes it pisses you off, but maybe that’s what motivates you for that day. I think it’s necessary to keep either everybody humble or motivate them more.”
The 28-year old has pitched at least 192 innings each of the last three seasons and has already made a positive impression with the consistency of his delivery during bullpen and pitching practice sessions.
“I think I practiced so much with the mechanics of my motion when I was younger that I don’t have to think about it now,” shared Leake. “It’s a fairly natural motion for me. My body and my muscle memory know what my motion is and I really don’t spend much time thinking about it because when I do, I tend to get in my own head. It’s a motion where I feel like I’m getting the best out of my legs. The one thing I do tend to lose is getting out in front and kind of getting that last bit of extension–I do tend to get a little tall so that’s one thing I do have to keep in the back of my mind with my mechanics.”
The practice began early, as Leake was taught by his father, who had played high school baseball but continued to self-teach the sport by reading books.
“My dad was my coach until–he still is,” stated Leake. “I still listen to every word he says to me. He set such a great foundation for me, it’s gotten me to where I am today.”