Tiant shares admiration for Cueto's style

Tiant shares admiration for Cueto's style

BOSTON -- Luis Tiant had a personal request for his fellow mound stylist, Johnny Cueto.

"I told him that he has to win 20 games or more," Tiant said Tuesday, after a 45-minute pregame chat with the Giants All-Star right-hander. "When he wins 20, I'm going to call him."

Should that happen, it'll be a proud day for Tiant, who relishes Cueto's ability to maintain impeccable command while employing deceptive pitching motions. Tiant distinguished himself in similar fashion while posting a 229-172 record during a 19-year career (1964-82).

"I watch him all the time," said the 75-year-old Tiant, a part-time Red Sox instructor who lives in Maine. "You see somebody do almost exactly what you used to do, it makes you feel like you're coming back."

Asked about the lack of pitchers who operate creatively, Tiant said, "I don't know why [more pitchers don't experiment]. We were talking about that."

Overall, Tiant said, "They want to make everybody throw the same. ... Everybody pitches like a robot."

The fascination with velocity has grown excessive, in Tiant's view.

"The guys who throw harder and harder and harder, they're going to get hit," he said. "Everybody in the Major Leagues can hit a fastball. And they can hit it way out."

This prompted Tiant to offer unsolicited praise for Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who turns his back to the hitter in his windup. Tiant made this trait famous.

"He's a good pitcher. I like him," Tiant said.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.