How this reliever created a backyard throwing oasis

2 years ago

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Kyle Finnegan needed somewhere to pitch during offseasons. One option was spending four hours each day going to and from a facility in the Houston area, but that would take him away from the family he had already been missing all season. Another option: build his own at-home training setup.

The right-handed reliever began searching the internet for specs back in 2018. He went to Home Depot and loaded up his car with wood that barely fit in the sedan. With no experience with power tools, Finnegan assembled his first mound over two days — but the incline didn’t feel natural and the turf slipped occasionally.

The next time around, he cut the wood differently to allow for more space, used turf with a better grip and sealed it all with carpet adhesive instead of roofing nails.

Finnegan has since upgraded to a horse stall mat from a tractor supply store to throw off for his third edition of the backyard mound. This offseason he purchased a Rapsodo machine, built his own version of a Pitcher’s Pocket out of lead plumbing pipes and insulation, and strung a net between two trees for long toss to warm up.

The backyard setup has become a place for Finnegan to spend time with his wife and their three children while he works in the offseason. He also has flood lights on his house so he can throw in the evenings, which allows him to catch his daughter’s soccer games on Saturdays and still put in work at night.

“That’s what’s nice about it,” Finnegan said. “I can take as long as I would like to take. Which is nice because when you’re truly working on things, if I’m sitting on the couch and I think, ‘Oh, I need to try that,’ I can just go out and tinker.”

Finnegan’s pro pitching setup comes years after he began experimenting with carpentry to build furniture for his home, including a coffee table, a console table and a mudroom bench. The coffee table from his Minor League days even made its way to his current home.