St. Louis Cardinals closer Bud Norris is employing an old-school approach to keep electric rookie Jordan Hicks in line, and while the youngster may not appreciate it, manager Mike Matheny is supportive of the method.
After Hicks was optioned to minor-league camp during spring training for repeatedly being late, Norris has kept an eye on members of the bullpen, including Hicks, to ensure they're living up to the standards that the club has put in place, according to The Athletic's Mark Saxon.
Saxon notes that Norris has been "mercilessly riding" Hicks, reminding the flame-throwing 22-year-old to be on time and publicly challenging him when he falls short of what's expected.
Hicks apparently isn't a fan of the treatment, refusing to comment when questioned by Saxon if it would pay dividends later in his career.
Matheny was asked if Hicks would come to appreciate the approach and replied with a chuckle: "Probably not. But Bud’s going to continue to do what he thinks is right as a veteran, so you respect that."
The skipper explained he reminded Hicks that Norris was on his case to show he's invested in his success and it was a way to carry on the tradition of veterans using harsh tactics to educate younger players.
"I think the game has progressively gotten a little softer," Matheny added. "Man, it had some teeth not that long ago."
Though Hicks has been Norris' main target, Matheny mentioned he's issued fines to other bullpen pitchers based on reports that Norris has supplied to him. He believes it's a good way to remind his players of the importance of living up to expectations.
"I get regular updates," Matheny explained. "But that’s good. I invited him into that. We need leadership with each sub-culture of the team, including the bullpen, and he’s keeping an eye. He’s a stickler for what we established early on."