March 21, 2016 12:12 pm
Updated: March 21, 2016 3:37 pm

MLB stars offer advice to Obama ahead of historic 1st pitch in Cuba

In this April 5, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama, wearing a Washington Nationals jacket and a Chicago White Sox hat, delivers a ceremonial pitch before the Washington Nationals home opening baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park in Washington.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
A A

Bryce Harper studied the video of the lanky left-hander, watching him throw for the very first time.

“Ooof,” the reigning National League Most Valuable Player exclaimed.

OK, President Barack Obama freely admits he didn’t play much baseball as a kid. No matter, this is his last season in the Washington rotation, never too late to get a proper grip.

WATCH: Derek Jeter says America, Cuba speak the same language of baseball

Especially if he gets called from the bullpen to throw out the first ball in Havana on Tuesday when the Tampa Bay Rays face the Cuban national team. Despite early talk Obama might be on the mound, he’s not listed in the starting lineup at Estadio Latinoamericano.

READ MORE: Obama to meet Raul Castro on historic Cuba trip

Just in case there’s a need for any presidential pitchin’ this year, The Associated Press asked a collection of MVPs, Cy Young Award winners and All-Stars at spring training to review the last time Obama threw on a big league field.

U.S. President Barack Obama throws out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.

Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

Story continues below
Global News

It was at the Nationals’ home opener in 2010. Wearing a White Sox cap for his favourite team and sporting a rather awkward motion, he lobbed a toss that was a bit high and outside.

Well, more than a bit.

Tips, anyone?

“He looked good, I mean up until his windup and everything,” Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said. “Get the ball down in the zone.”

READ MORE: ‘Cuban Yankee Stadium’ preparing to host Obama in 1st MLB-Cuba game since 1999

“Had about six different arm pumps,” Phillies slugger Ryan Howard observed. “Probably take it down to about two, maybe three.”

David Price proposed a simple, relaxed delivery.

“Just free and easy, lock your eyes on the target,” the Boston lefty said. “Don’t bounce it … just get it there. Worst comes to worst, throw it over their heads.”

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was more succinct.

“Just throw a strike,” the 2014 World Series MVP said, chuckling.

U.S. President Barack Obama throws out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Twins closer Glen Perkins cracked a smile, then had a question.

“Is he actually left-handed or is he right-handed?” Perkins said.

Told Obama was a lefty, Perkins made a suggestion: “I would try throwing it right-handed. That’s the first thing I would do.”

Obama did better at the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis, where his blooper was scooped in front of home plate by Albert Pujols. Even wearing a protective vest, the president easily outpitched rapper 50 Cent, whose wayward try lit up the Internet.

Harper noted the president’s other athletic skill, too.

WATCH: Dozens of worker are remodeling the so-called “Cuban Yankee Stadium” before the next ballgame against the Tampa Bay Rays where President Obama is expected to throw the first pitch.

“I heard he’s really good at basketball, so maybe he can just shoot it into a hoop, that’d be good,” the Nationals’ big bopper said.

“I mean, he might want to stick to just being President Obama,” he said, “not on a baseball field.”

Sitting in the Atlanta dugout and seeing the video, Braves executive John Hart said there still was hope.

“He has a nice, loose arm,” he said.

Hart figured some “long toss” and strength training would help Obama “get a little firmer” with his delivery. The former Cleveland and Texas general manager said the goal was more zip on the fastball.

“Even if you throw it in the dirt, Mr. Prez, you know what, let’s throw it with some velocity,” he said. “But I’ll take it. You’re left-handed, that means you got a chance.”

AP freelance writers Ken Powtak and Rick Eymer contributed to this report.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

Report an error

Comments

Global News