“They each throw with great arm speed, and there’s no sense of ‘I’m going to try to position this pitch,’” Stottlemyre said. “They’ve kept power on the forefront, so that they maximize their movement and their finish to the pitch. They’re special.”
The pitches, yes, but in addition the people. When Stottlemyre’s father Mel Sr., the longtime pitcher and coach, died of multiple myeloma in January 2019, Alcantara and López each called to console him. Stottlemyre, who had only recently joined the Marlins, has since helped each pitchers through their personal trials.
“Sharing what that seems like, with the ability to have that encourage and provides purpose and intending to every part you do — we’ve all three spent a whole lot of time talking about that,” said Stottlemyre, who’s 58. “It hurt me, too, watching them, because I only understand how I handled my dad’s death. And to be young? I got to live with my dad for just about all of my life, and to experience all the good times. That got taken away from them.”
Stottlemyre recognizes his father’s influence in the best way he speaks together with his pitchers. He invests time in constructing relationships, earning their affection — the pitchers wear T-shirts calling themselves “Stott’s Tots” — and trust. He has opened up about his younger brother, Jason, who died of leukemia in 1981, and said he has never been as near two pitchers as he’s to Alcantara and López.
“I see him not only as a pitching coach,” López said, “but in addition as a father figure and an incredible role model.”
López’s father encouraged him to pursue a professional profession with the Seattle Mariners at 16 years old, when he had one other heady option: medical school at La Universidad del Zulia, his parents’ alma mater. López had graduated from highschool at age 15 — mastering 4 languages along the best way — and his mother’s side of the family cautioned that the baseball world might be very uncertain. Danny reasoned that medical school could all the time be a backup plan for baseball, but not the opposite way around. That logic won out, though López has struggled at times with the burdens of high achievement.