There will be no grading on a curve, even though the youngster is competing with the established Sidney Ponson for a rotation spot.
"He can't be successful without it," said La Russa. "How is that tough? It gives you your best chance. You can't pitch at the top of the zone -- I don't care how hard you throw.
to succeed over the long haul, reyes probably does need another pitch -- two-seamer, splitter, whatever. but there is no evidence that he needs it yet. the guy throws 95, moves the ball around in the strike zone, and has poise and intelligence -- and that ought to be enough to get him established as a big-league pitcher. once he's had some success with his core tool kit -- or, conversely, has found his core tool kit inadequate -- then let him work on expanding it.
when i was at cal in the 1980s, the basketball team had a point guard named kevin johnson -- the future "kj" of nba all-star fame -- with extraordinary skills, and a coach (lou campanelli) with a rigid ideology about the correct way to play basketball. he straitjacketed the kid so badly that cal only got one lonely NIT bid during johnson's four seasons; a pretty thin haul for so talented a player. a few years later cal had another heralded point guard -- jason kidd -- who was similarly hog-tied in his freshman year, until kidd and his teammates (including another future nbaer, lamond murray) rebelled at midseason and got campanelli tossed. assistant coach todd bozeman took over, and the team went 9-1 down the stretch to salvage a lost season and sneak into the ncaa tournament as a #10 seed. they went on to beat two-time defending champ duke in the 2d round and advance to the sweet 16.
kidd had plenty of holes in his game at age 18 -- he was a bad outside shooter, not a great distributor in the half-court, an unsteady decision-maker. campanelli believed (as la russa does with reyes) that his player couldn't succeed until he addressed his weaknesses; but bozeman focused instead on the skills at which kidd already excelled -- pushing the fast break and driving to the basket -- and built the team around those. later on, kidd eventualy did have to address his weaknesses, but he was already prepared for success in the short term; he just needed the opportunity to show it.
vis-a-vis tony reyes, this two-seamer business depresses me even more than the ponson signing. get out of the kid's way and let him pitch, dammit. save your sine qua nons for sidney ponson and josh hancock and the various other projects hovering around camp; they might benefit.