FORT MYERS, Fla. – It sounds funny for a guy with a 7.88 ERA to say, but Trevor May hated to see the 2014 season end. “I feel like I ran out of starts,” the 25-year-old righthander said. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I’m running out of time. I want to keep pitching.’ It was confidence-building to learn that if I get everything working right, I can have success at this level.”
Success came in the form of a no-walk, 10-strikeout victory over the White Sox, and a one-walk, seven-whiff outing in Detroit. Those were two of his final three starts, and while the one between them was a seven-run, eight-hit drubbling by Cleveland, May was sure he was figuring some things out.
“I kind of put [the experience] in my back pocket and said, ‘I found out how to be successful at this level.’ A lot of stuff clicked by the end,” May said. “Like, my changeup is my second-best pitch, so I’ve got to get it going. And Zuke [catcher Kurt Suzuki] and I got on that unspoken page where he knew exactly what I wanted to do.”
Those were the positives from a rough two months, which began when he walked seven of the 15 hitters he faced in his debut. He finished 3-6, but his improvement was steady. His new manager noticed.
May learned “to trust that he didn’t have to do things differently up here than he did down [in the minors], which I thought he did in the beginning,” Paul Molitor said. “He tried to throw a little harder, tried to spin it a little better. [But] we obviously saw him pitch better the more times he went out there.”
Now the fifth starting job — his old job — is open this spring, and May has at least four challengers, three of them with more big-league experience. He hopes his perseverance counts for something. “Obviously I don’t know exactly what the people who are making decisions are thinking, but showing I can be successful after having my face beat up for two months, showing I can work through it, it’s a trait you have to have,” May said. “I take pride in the fact that I didn’t give up. I didn’t let it get me down.”
He approaches this year’s competition with a new weapon: flexibility. “I’ve been doing yoga for 30 or 40 minutes every morning, and I’m much fresher than ever before,” May said. “Every scouting report I’ve ever seen on myself says, ‘Has trouble repeating his delivery.’ Well, yoga is literally repeating moves, keeping your body under your control. I do the warrior pose, which is [the same as] striding and throwing a baseball. It has to help.”