DUNEDIN--You hear about it. But watching it is something else.
The speed (haste?) with which new Blue Jays hurler Mark Buehrle approaches his job really is surprising. Usually, unless the batters slow him down, he's delivering a pitch every seven or eight seconds.
Other times, he appears ready to deliver after only three or four seconds.
"I don't tell myself to work fast," said Buehrle after throwing 59 pitches in what seemed like a blink of the eye against Pittsburgh in Bradenton on Wednesday. "That's just the way I work. It's just what I do."
For the uninitiated - and that sometimes includes teammates - it takes a while to get used to.
"It was my first time catching Mark. It's neat because he finds a rhythm and it's disruptive to the other side," said Jays catcher Mike Nickeas, who came over from the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal. "You just kind of get into the flow of the game and its amazing. It's incredible how fast he works."
Buehrle has a reputation for this of course, and in 2005 while with the White Sox he and Seattle pitcher Ryan Franklin combined to each pitch complete games in a one hour, 39 minute game. It was the fastest game in more than two decades at the time, and Seattle statisticians calculated the two pitchers got 51 outs in just over 65 minutes of actual playing time.
Nickeas, who had three hits and tagged out Russell Martin on a close play at the plate on Wednesday, said Dickey and Buehrle are comparable as to how quickly they work.
"R.A. works really quick. He's on the mound and he's ready to go," said Nickeas. "Mark's a lot like that. I think he's the fastest I've ever seen.
"With him, you throw the ball back to him, and then he's coming again. It's kind of a natural experience.
"It's tough for the hitters. I've faced him a few times and you better have both hands on the bat ready to go when he's on the mound."