The Eye of the Beholder
Chiefs outfielder Corey Brown went to the Nationals’ eye doctor in the offseason. He was hoping there was something wrong with his vision.
“Our eye physician, I kinda jokingly said to him, ‘please tell me my eyes are pretty bad and we can kinda fix the reason why I lead the team in strikeouts every year.’”
In 2011, in his first full Triple-A season, Corey Brown’s 134 strikeouts were the most on the Chiefs’ roster. Chris Marrero, in second place, had 97.
“Last year, there was a lot of pressure on myself,” Brown said recently before a game in Allentown. “There was a lot of anxiety built up at times and so it was tough, but I learned a lot and I’m trying to put that behind.”
For his career, Brown had struck out 577 times compared to 232 walks entering this year. This season, Corey Brown–the free swinger–is third in the International League in walks. Part of the reason for a newfound plate discipline dates back to that appointment with Nationals’ eye doctor Keith Smithson. While Brown’s overall eyesight was fine (despite his wish to the contrary), one component of his vision lagged behind.
“One of the things you lack is recognition,” Dr. Smithson told Brown.
According to Dr. Smithson’s tests, Corey Brown wasn’t able to, in an above average way, identify things quickly. So, the doctor prescribed a pair of glasses.
“They’re supposed to help you recognize pitches out of the hand,” Brown said. “Before, I probably wouldn’t recognize a pitch until halfway.”
They’re called Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe glasses. They block the user’s vision intermittently. Dr. Smithson suggested Brown wear the glasses for 10-15 minutes a day three times a week. Brown has built work with them into his daily routine.
“There’s different settings with a strobe light. Your vision goes in and out. You only see the ball every split second,” Brown said “I’ll hit front toss or stand there and have someone throw a ball all around. It’s as if you’re blinking. It’s really fast.”
With his pitch recognition improved, Corey Brown walked 11 times in the Chiefs’ first 10 games this year. His tenth walk last season didn’t come until May 9th.
Brown and the Chiefs are home until Sunday. Join us.