R.J. Seidel wasn’t big on the mental aspect of pitching when he was a student at Central High School.
With his skills, he didn’t need it anyway.
Seidel’s skill level has taken him to the Class AA level of the Milwaukee Brewers minor-league system, but the right-hander finds himself complementing that with another side of the game.
“I write a lot of things down now,” Seidel said Wednesday from Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix. “When I was younger, I just relied on my ability and never really thought about the kind of focus I need to have.”
Seidel, a 2006 Central graduate, has embraced visualization exercises to maximize his attention to detail when he pitches.
“The mind is a very powerful thing,” he said. “When I started to come on and do really well last year, it was because of my focus and being able to block out everything and visualize what I needed to do in my head.”
Seidel began his seventh spring training with the Brewers on Monday, and he showed up ready to build on a pretty successful season at Class AA Huntsville last summer.
Seidel, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder and 16th-round draft choice by Milwaukee, continued a transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen by pitching 671/3 innings in 39 games.
He was 3-2 with an ERA of 3.34, 53 strikeouts and 31 walks and 62 hits allowed. Seidel also pitched part of a no-hitter and had a save.
“This will be my third year as a reliever,” said Seidel, who was 8-2 with a 0.99 ERA and 90 strikeouts as a senior at Central. “I trained the whole offseason to have the stamina of a starter to be ready for a spot start if that comes up.”
He said his days during the first week were broken up by baseball workout sessions and time in the weight room.
Pitchers threw 30 to 40 pitches on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and spent Tuesday and Thursday working on defense and on-field play. Seidel figured he spent 75 minutes in baseball workouts and an hour working with weights.
That, he said, will increase next week and build until exhibition games begin one week from today.
Seidel pitched middle relief for the Stars, who were 65-74 last season in the Southern League. It was his second season with Huntsville after moving there from Class A Brevard County during 2011.
To take the next step, Seidel said he’s concentrating on taking advantage of every opportunity to learn over the next six weeks.
The Brewers open their exhibition schedule against Oakland, and that’s when Seidel can begin to make an impression on the right people.
Seidel, who worked his way back from a knee injury sustained during the winter before the 2009 season, said he wouldn’t be concerned about being assigned to Huntsville again, although the goal is to make a jump to Class AAA Nashville.
“I just have to be ready,” Seidel said. “I think I had a good enough year to get a promotion, but you have to look at what happened in the offseason and what happens (in spring training).
“It’s not about where you start, it’s about where you finish.”