Sleeping on job works for Macaluso

Dom Macaluso has been known to doze off on the job every now and then, but that’s a good thing.

Macaluso has gotten into the habit of taking power naps before games, and it is evidently helping the Riverhead Tomcats pitcher, sharpening his focus for when he takes the mound. Through Sunday’s games, Macaluso had the third-lowest earned run average in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League at 1.43. The righty gave up 25 hits, walking seven and striking out 24 in 37 2/3 innings in this, his first season in the league.

Those naps have to be helping. After catching some shut-eye, sometimes in the dugout before a game, Macaluso is ready to take on the world.

“No matter how little sleep you get or how much sleep you get, toward the middle of the day you get tired,” he said. “You take a 15-minute nap and you feel like a different person. I take a little power nap every now and then. I feel great afterward.”

Macaluso gained an appreciation for the value of a good nap this past college season, his second with St. Peter’s College (N.J.). The Jefferson, N.J., native found it a good way to deal with the everyday stress of college baseball and classes while at the same time relaxing before a game.

“I used to get too antsy,” he said. “I fell asleep one day and I decided pretty much it was a good idea. It’s worked out.”

Who is to argue with success?

With the Tomcats, Macaluso has been a reliable starter. In his most recent start, a 3-2 win over the North Fork Ospreys on Thursday, Macaluso put up solid numbers as he brought his record to 2-1. Over eight innings he gave up four hits, two runs, walked two and struck out two.

“I’m not a big stat guy, but he’s doing it against all the teams,” Tomcats Manager Randy Caden said. “He’s impressed us. He’s a workhorse. He doesn’t get tired. He throws a heavy baseball and he’s in every game. So, yeah, he’s shown that he can do it.”

Macaluso has been a rock for a St. Peter’s team that has gone 35-71 over the past two years. He had the second-lowest ERA for the Peacocks last season at 4.90 while posting a 5-8 record. He went 5-5 with a 6.65 ERA the year before as a freshman.

Macaluso was a starter his freshman season before moving to the bullpen and then returning to the starting rotation, a role he prefers. He started weekend games during his sophomore season.

Caden considers Macaluso to be one of the league’s top pitchers and said he has all the tools to play at the professional level. That only makes the fact that Macaluso was passed over for the league’s recent all-star game all the more surprising. As it was, the Tomcats had two all-star pitchers in Joey Novak and reliever Michael Zaccardo.

“He should have made the all-star team,” Caden said of Macaluso. “The thing was, his record was 1 and 1 at the time [of the team selection], and he should have had two or three other wins, but we blew leads for him.”

Macaluso, who is continually experimenting with his grip, said his goal this summer was to work on his changeup, something he said he didn’t have in the spring, as well as developing sinking action on his two-seam fastball that has had batters swinging at balls in the dirt. Those pitches, as well as a curveball and slider, have helped, along with his placement. “I’m putting them in the right spot,” he said.

Caden said Macaluso throws in the high 80s and has nice movement on his pitches. “He has good control,” Caden said. “He doesn’t get flustered, and he has three pitches that he can get over for strikes easily, and that’s effective. If you have three pitches that you could throw for strikes and you could throw any way you want, that’s important.”

So, too, apparently is a good nap. After a story by Jim Furlong appeared in a recent Hamptons Collegiate Baseball newsletter detailing Macaluso’s penchant for snoozing, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Macaluso has been teased by teammates, who called him the “sleeping giant.”

“We’ve actually had him on the bench a couple of times napping, and waking him up and having a laugh with him, but it is important,” Caden said. “Guys have to know what they need to do to get ready. Everyone’s different.”

Speaking of his low ERA, Macaluso said: “It just means that things are going good. As long as I keep on having fun, I expect to keep it down, just keep it where it is.”

And catch a few winks here and there.

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