'Heavy' Kunz quite a catch for Mets
Right-hander's sinking pitches a natural gift against opposition
NEW YORK -- As tall as he is, Eddie Kunz is not the tallest Met. At 6-foot-7, Mike Pelfrey has Kunz by a couple of inches.
Kunz is the heaviest, though. And that distinction has nothing to do with the 265 pounds that fill his uniform. Kunz clearly is the Mets' heavy because of his pitches. The natural sink of his pitches is, well, borderline unnatural. Players use the word heavy; i.e., he throws a heavy ball. His pitches are almost impossible to hit into the air, they'll say.
How heavy? Well, comparison is the best means of measurement in this case.
Pelfrey throws a heavy ball too. Indeed, the first time former Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca caught Pelfrey, he identified the pitches as "bowling balls." And Kunz's pitches are heavier.
"I've never caught me," Pelfrey said. "But I've caught Eddie, and his stuff is heeaa-veee."
"And I've never caught myself," Kunz said. "But everyone says mine is the heaviest."
Anvil heavy. Led Zeppelin heavy. Sumo wrestler heavy.
The weight of Kunz's pitches is what made the home run Chase Headley hit on Wednesday night so remarkable. It was the first home run Kunz had allowed since his freshman year at Oregon State. He had pitched 61 1/3 professional innings, one in the big leagues, before Wednesday night. The pitch Headley hit was a Kunz-lite.
"He's hard to catch," Ramon Castro said. "You feel like he's thrown a rock."
Dave Racaniello, the Mets bullpen catcher, fears the anvil. He won't catch Kunz without a mask.
"I've played catch with him, and I don't play catch with him anymore," Aaron Heilman said. "Does that tell you something?"
The Mets' first selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, Kunz knows what he has -- a natural gift that other pitchers envy and opposing batters despise.
He pitched against the Giants' Double-A Connecticut affiliate earlier this season while he as a member of the Binghamton Mets. Afterward, he, some teammates and some of his opponents met, by chance, at a local eatery. He found himself seated next to Ben Copeland, a Giants prospect who subsequently has been promoted to Triple-A.
"We were just talking -- he seemed like a pretty good guy," Kunz said. "And out of nowhere, he says, 'I hate you.' He said he hated facing me. I guess he'd been swinging pretty good at the time. That's what he told me. But he said, 'Then I faced you. And it's like my bat just stopped when it got to the ball.'
"That's the kind of stuff you like to hear."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.