“They both throw great arm speed, and there’s no sense of ‘I’m going to try to set this pitch,’” Stottlemyre said. “They have kept the power up front, so they maximize their movement and their shooting into the field. They are special.
The fields, yes, but also the people. When Stottlemyre’s father, Mel Sr., the former pitcher and coach, died of multiple myeloma in January 2019, Alcantara and Lopez called to comfort him. Stottlemyre, who recently joined the Marlins, has since helped both pitchers in their personal tryouts.
“Sharing what it feels like, being able to have that inspiration and give purpose and meaning to everything you do, the three of us spend a lot of time talking about it,” said Stottlemyre, 58. “It hurt me, too, watching them, because I only know how I handled my dad’s death. And be young? I was able to live with my father for almost my entire life and experience all the great moments. That was taken away from them.”
Stottlemyre acknowledges his father’s influence in the way he talks to his pitchers. He spends time building relationships, earning his affection: pitchers wear T-shirts calling themselves “Stott’s little ones” – and trust. He has opened up about his younger brother, Jason, who died of leukemia in 1981, saying he has never been as close to two pitchers as he is to Alcantara and Lopez.
“I see him not only as a pitching coach,” Lopez said, “but also as a father figure and a great role model.”
López’s father encouraged him to pursue a professional career with the Seattle Mariners at age 16, when he had another heady option: medical school at La Universidad del Zulia, his parents’ alma mater. Lopez had graduated from high school at 15, mastering four languages along the way, and his mother’s side of the family warned that the world of baseball could be very uncertain. Danny reasoned that medical school could always be a backup plan for baseball, but not the other way around. That logic triumphed, though Lopez has struggled at times with the burdens of high achievement.