the quest starts tonight...:cool... http://articles.sun-...zone-balls-feat Ricky Nolascoâ€™s goal: Issue 25 or fewer bases on balls in 2010 Six pitchers since 1980 have achieved feat while tossing 200 or more innings April 06, 2010|By Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel NEW YORK â€“ One time in his life he couldn't do it. Ricky Nolasco couldn't throw strikes. Fresh out of middle school, Nolasco joined the summer ball team at Rialto (Calif.) High School. He transferred there and was earmarked to play for the varsity team as a freshman. "I was a little stressed out about that," said Nolasco, who will make his 2010 debut Wednesday night against the Mets. "I remember that summer walking a ton of guys. That was the only time in my life I walked guys and had that taste of it. I hated it." AdvertisementStill does. Nolasco berated himself after his final Grapefruit League outing. He walked the last hitter he faced after getting ahead 0-2. It was the first and only batter that saw four balls from Nolasco in 25 1/3 innings. He added another five innings without a walk in Friday's exhibition game at Double-A Jacksonville. In 2008, Nolasco walked 42 in 212 1/3 innings. The only Marlins starter to total fewer bases on balls while amassing 200-plus innings was Kevin Brown in 1996 (33 in 233 innings). Brown won't own that distinction much longer if Nolasco accomplishes his 2010 goal. "Obviously, I want to be as low as possible, but walks are going to happen," he said. "It's part of the game, part of being a pitcher. My goal is no more than 25 walks. I want to throw over 200 innings. I think 25 is a good number to be at." Two pitchers in the last decade have totaled 25 walks or less and completed 200 or more innings. David Wells (20 in 213 innings) did it for the 2003 Yankees and Brad Radke in 2005 for the Twins walked 23 in 200 2/3 innings. Six pitchers have achieved the feat eight times since 1980. Greg Maddux and Bob Tewksbury did it twice each. "To me, that's a tough one," pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. "That's a pretty lofty goal. Of course it's realistic, especially the way he throws the ball over the plate, but sometimes maybe you're walking a guy unintentionally intentionally because you feel better in a certain situation the guy on deck isn't going to get you. "He's capable of doing it. [Opposing hitters] can't eliminate anything with him. It makes him aggressive. They know he's going to throw strikes so they're up there swinging, which is good. It forces the hand on them and they have to be aggressive because they don't want to get behind." Added catcher John Baker: "He's got a great four-seam fastball. He added a two-seamer last year and he's been throwing a split-changeup that's been excellent the last two years. So many pitches that move so many different directions, if they all start in the strike zone you're going to see a lot of swings and misses, a lot of ground balls and a lot of strikes." Nolasco has long since established residency in the strike zone. In 32 starts in 2008, Nolasco threw 67.7 percent of 3,179 pitches in the zone. The rest of the Marlins' starters that season threw a combined 62 percent strikes. Nolasco consistently tops the 70 percent mark. That's not a skill Nolasco developed throwing rocks through hollowed out soup cans. His older brother, Dave, pitched professionally and drove home the importance of limiting walks. "The biggest thing I ever learned as far as pitching is throw strikes and don't walk guys," Nolasco said. "It makes your job a million times easier. My dad wasn't a pitching coach or anything, but the only thing he knew and cared about was throwing strikes. He took pride in watching us throw strikes and reminding us no matter what you do, throw strikes." No one need remind Nolasco of that these days.