“They both throw with great arm speed, and there’s no sense of ‘I’m going to try to place this pitch,’” Stottlemyre said. “They’ve kept power at the forefront, so they maximize their movement and their finish to the pitch. They’re special.”
The pitches, yes, but also the people. When Stottlemyre’s father Mel Sr., the longtime pitcher and coach, died of multiple myeloma in January 2019, Alcantara and López both called to console him. Stottlemyre, who had just recently joined the Marlins, has since helped both pitchers through their personal trials.
“Sharing what that feels like, being able to have that inspire and give purpose and meaning to everything you do — we’ve all three spent a lot of time talking about that,” said Stottlemyre, who is 58. “It hurt me, too, watching them, because I only know how I handled my dad’s death. And to be young? I got to live with my dad for almost all of my life, and to experience all the great times. That got taken away from them.”
Stottlemyre recognizes his father’s influence in the way he speaks with his pitchers. He invests time in building relationships, earning their affection — the pitchers wear T-shirts calling themselves “Stott’s Tots” — and trust. He has opened up about his younger brother, Jason, who died of leukemia in 1981, and said he has never been as close to two pitchers as he is to Alcantara and López.
“I see him not only as a pitching coach,” López said, “but also as a father figure and a great role model.”
López’s father encouraged him to pursue a pro career with the Seattle Mariners at 16 years old, when he had another heady option: medical school at La Universidad del Zulia, his parents’ alma mater. López had graduated from high school at age 15 — mastering four languages along the way — and his mother’s side of the family cautioned that the baseball world could be very uncertain. Danny reasoned that medical school could always be a backup plan for baseball, but not the other way around. That logic won out, though López has struggled at times with the burdens of high achievement.