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Behind the scenes of Kevin Ziomek’s second professional start

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek stretches before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek stretches before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kevin Ziomek, seated, relaxes in the Connecticut Tigers locker room before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kevin Ziomek, seated, relaxes in the Connecticut Tigers locker room before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek, right, signs an autograph for a young fan as his catcher, Chris Taladay, does the same Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek, right, signs an autograph for a young fan as his catcher, Chris Taladay, does the same Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek listens to his pitching coach, Mark Johnson, before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek listens to his pitching coach, Mark Johnson, before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up in the bull pen before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up in the bull pen before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek relaxes in the dug out before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek relaxes in the dug out before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kevin Ziomek, of the Connecticut Tigers, pitches against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.JERREY ROBERTS

    Kevin Ziomek, of the Connecticut Tigers, pitches against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kevin Ziomek, of the Connecticut Tigers, pitches against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kevin Ziomek, of the Connecticut Tigers, pitches against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich Friday.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich Friday.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kevin Ziomek puts his uniform on in the Connecticut Tigers locker room before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kevin Ziomek puts his uniform on in the Connecticut Tigers locker room before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kevin Ziomek, right, talks to his catcher, Chris Taladay, before their game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kevin Ziomek, right, talks to his catcher, Chris Taladay, before their game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek leaves the dug out to warm up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek leaves the dug out to warm up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kevin Ziomek, right, talks to his catcher, Chris Taladay, before their game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kevin Ziomek, right, talks to his catcher, Chris Taladay, before their game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek stretches before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kevin Ziomek, seated, relaxes in the Connecticut Tigers locker room before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek, right, signs an autograph for a young fan as his catcher, Chris Taladay, does the same Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek listens to his pitching coach, Mark Johnson, before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up in the bull pen before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek relaxes in the dug out before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kevin Ziomek, of the Connecticut Tigers, pitches against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kevin Ziomek, of the Connecticut Tigers, pitches against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich Friday.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kevin Ziomek puts his uniform on in the Connecticut Tigers locker room before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kevin Ziomek, right, talks to his catcher, Chris Taladay, before their game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek leaves the dug out to warm up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kevin Ziomek, right, talks to his catcher, Chris Taladay, before their game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Connecticut Tigers pitcher Kevin Ziomek warms up before his game against Vermont Friday at Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

The couch, along with two others just like it, formed a three-quarters square in the center of the Connecticut Tigers clubhouse.

“Remember the Titans” was playing on an old, box TV hanging from the wall. Food was laid out on a table behind one of the couches. The pregame meal was a selection of deli meats, bananas and peanut butter.

Ballplayers were scattered about. Most were face-first in their smartphones. Others listened to music.

Ziomek, fresh out of Vanderbilt and being selected in the second round of the June First-Year Player Draft, was starting to prepare for his second professional start Friday for the Detroit Tigers’ single-A affiliate.

“Every day you have something to do,” Connecticut Tigers pitching coach Mark Johnson said before the game. “That’s different from college. You’re not taking classes right now, having to go to class in the morning. Right now, this is your job. This is your profession and you can focus on one thing.”

The Amherst native worked two innings against the Vermont Lake Monsters at Dodd Stadium. The start wasn’t as smooth as his two perfect inning debut against Tri-City last weekend. The 6-foot-3 left-hander struck out two, walked two and allowed one earned run on two hits.

Ziomek stood on the top step in the dugout after being removed for Logan Ehlers, arms draped over the railing. His night was done after three hours of work.

“I tried to get in there and find a rhythm, but I struggled at first,” Ziomek said. “It was one of those days where my command wasn’t my best. I couldn’t really get comfortable out there but it will happen.”

The Tigers scored four runs in the fifth and went on to win 7-1. Fireworks then lit up the sky for the 2,716 in attendance, including Ziomek’s family and friends.

“I try not to think about who’s in the stands and everything,” Ziomek said. “I think it was just one of those outings where you go out there and you don’t feel yourself. Everyone has them and all you can do is come back strong the next time.”

An hour before first pitch, while two teammates played foosball and others milled about, Ziomek buttoned up his jersey and laced up his spikes.

Moments later, he emerged from the dugout steps and made his way to right field, where he stretched alone for 15 minutes. Sprints came next followed by 15 minutes of throwing on flat ground with catcher Chris Taladay.

With 15 minutes remaining until first pitch, Ziomek and Taladay took a quick break. The pair returned to the dugout, where they signed autographs.

Ziomek disappeared for five minutes before resuming warmups with Taladay in the right-field bullpen.

With Johnson watching closely, Ziomek worked his array of pitches right until game time.

“Right now, it’s important that they’re getting used to pro ball,” Johnson said. “We’re getting our work in, getting video, getting information. If you’re a first-year guy, let them get their feet wet, have some fun.”

Command was an issue from the start against Vermont. Ziomek threw three straight balls to Boog Powell before fighting back with two strikes. Powell eventually walked.

“He was a little off, but he still came back after starting off a little slow,” Taladay said. “After the first 10 pitches, he relaxed and got it back.”

The wildness started late in a pregame bullpen session but Ziomek said it didn’t carry over.

“You try not to think about the bullpen at all,” Ziomek said. “Honestly, it’s just something to go out and get loose. Any time you have a bad bullpen or a good bullpen you don’t take it into the game.”

A four-pitch walk to Wilfredo Solano followed, which prompted Johnson and Taladay to visit the mound.

“I wasn’t sure if he was a little nervous, a little anxious, so I went out there to slow him a down a little bit,” Taladay said. “Ease his mind.”

Ziomek came back and struck out Jaycob Brugman on four pitches. Ryan Huck then hit an RBI single to left to give Vermont a 1-0 lead. Ziomek then induced Michael Soto to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Ziomek had a 1-2-3 second inning but not without a little trouble. Tyler Marincov singled to center on a 2-1 pitch. Xavier Macklin then worked the count full before Ziomek got him looking on a breaking ball on the outside part of the plate.

“It was a slider and he spotted it perfect,” Taladay said. “He had his confidence in it. He called it, and he put it right where he wanted it.”

Melvin Mercedes then grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

“That pitch got his confidence going,” Taladay said. “He’s a really confident kid anyway, but in a situation like that it’s not a type of pitch people typically throw. To get out of it is huge.”

NOTES: Ziomek has two teammates with ties to the major league club. Infielder Patrick Leyland is the son of Detroit manager Jim Leyland. Outfielder Ben Verlander is the brother of Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com.

Related

Storify: Gazette sports editor Mike Moran on Kevin Ziomek's first professional home start

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gazette sports editor Mike Moran and staff photographer Jerrey Roberts took the trip south to Norwich, Conn., for Amherst native Kevin Ziomek's first home start for the Connecticut Tigers on Friday night. They were there for Ziomek's pregame routine all the way through the last pitch. Here is a look at Mike Moran's live tweeting through the day. <noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/jimpignatiello/kevin-ziomek-starts-for-connecticut-tigers" …

Legacy Comments1

He walked Boog Powell? Well, at least Kevin didn't have to worry about him stealing second.

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