De Jong will be filling Felix Hernandez’s spot in the starting rotation.
CLEVELAND — It was two days before Chase De Jong’s first big league start and he already was into his preparation mode. He wasn’t studying the tendencies of a very tough collection of hitters that he’ll be facing in the Cleveland Indians’ lineup. There was no studying of his own mechanics or film from his solid relief outing in Oakland where he tossed four shutout innings against the A’s.
No, the first part of his preparation for Sunday’s start was to wait until his teammates were done with batting practice on Friday and then walk out to the mound of Progressive Field, pace around it, stand on the rubber and take in his surroundings — familiarize himself.
It’s something he did at the Oakland Coliseum as well.
“Any time I haven’t been on a mound somewhere, I try to go out there so that way it’s not my first time looking at that batter’s box and that backstop,” he said. “I’m a big believer in visualization. So being able to go out there and stand on that mound and get mental reps like that before a start, I think it benefits me even more.”
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It was something that De Jong had one consistently throughout his minor league career, but had kind of gotten away from last season. When he placed on the opening day 25-man roster as a fill in for Dillon Overton, who was on paternity leave, manager Scott Servais took De Jong to the mound at Minute Maid Park during the workout before the season opener.
“He was like, ‘stand on the mound,” De Jong said. “I hadn’t done that in about a year. But it used to be part of my thing and now I’m getting back to it.”
That time in Houston didn’t go quite as planned. In his first appearance, De Jong gave up a walkoff homer to George Springer in the 13th inning of a 5-3 loss, which definitely wasn’t any part of the…