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Friday, March 16, 2012

How did I get here?

The easy answer is stupidity.

My mom told me 5 years ago that she worried about me pitching.  "Ty, I just wish you would stop the pitching," she'd say.  It's very hard not to listen to your 70+ year old mom who's a bigger baseball fan than you are especially when you know she's right.  She's also short and very sweet.  She's the kind of person that you just have to listen to because you know it's rude if you don't.

But that's not what you folks reading this care about.  You want to know what it felt like.  You want to know if I had that moment where I knew that it was trouble and if it's anything like your moment.

Yes, I definitely did and I actually had 2 of them.

Before all of that all I knew was that my elbow hurt.  I'd go into the doctor once a year and he'd always ask how it felt.  I'd tell him it was sore and he'd feel around and do a few small exercises and then prescribe a big time anti-inflammatory ....like a Super Aleve.  Then I'd start up playing ball in the spring and it would start to hurt.  I'd take Aleve every day to ease the pain. I'd work the muscles around it at the gym. I'd come home and get the ice and heat on it every night.  That got me through a lot of years...except for the last one.

Last year was by far the worst. My elbow was almost intolerable.  The Aleve stopped working; the Super Aleve stopped working; ice only worked for a little bit.  My fiance' said I grew to be a gigantic pain in the ass because it was always hurting.  So I finally had had it.  I went in for a cortisone shot to set things right.

If you've never had a cortisone shot, it's really a miracle drug. Later that night I felt like a million bucks.  I actually had zero pain in my elbow for the first time in years. It was an awesome short term solution that may have had long term consequences.

That weekend I was ready to throw.  My manager in the Sierra league (that's my 35+ PSSBL league....aka the old man league) called on me to pitch the next two innings.  As I was warming up, my teammate could barely catch the slider. My fastball was cranked up to the hilt.  The changeup was moving down and taking off speed.  I felt zero pain.  Bring on the top team in the league.

I brought it. Everything was working like crazy.  The first two batters went down via a groundout and a strikeout.  The third batter was on his way when something went terribly wrong.  Something in my elbow simply stopped working and ran all the way up into my forearm.  I could barely grip the ball.  I was in the stretch and my catcher called for a changeup on the outside corner on a left.  I'm still not sure how, but I managed to get that thing on the outside corner for strike three.

I went into the dugout and knew that was it.  I told the manager to warm up someone else but I would try to go next inning.  I got to the mound and threw two warmup pitches and was done.  That was July.

I would try to throw in my backyard with a tennis ball.  It hurt. I couldn't get any velocity on the ball.  I couldn't do anything.  It was awful. I felt awful. I couldn't contribute to my team. I couldn't even warm up.  I would wrap my elbow and douse it in Ben Gay which helped very little.  I could swing a bat, but I'm still a pitcher and trust me, I'm not breaking any stereotypes about pitchers not being able to hit.

I finally went to a doctor.  He brought in an ultrasound machine and  discovered a small tear in the UCL.  I thought I'd be able to lay off of it and finish out the season.  It was quite a struggle for sure....but I managed to  make small strides from game to game. I ended up changing my arm angle quite a bit as you can see in my profile picture.  I went much more out and over instead of "Jake Peavy Style" which was more to the side.  My old delivery and angle was much more violent and got me a lot more movement, but this new one was able to do it without any pain.

I managed to throw a few innings in our last few games and threw 2 at Safeco Field. The Safeco outing was insane. The high you have warming up in the same bullpen that you've seen Mike Adams, Mat Latos, and Trevor Cahill warm up in is insanity. I mean, what an honor. I warmed up in front of a Cal Ripken Jr. plaque...you know, the spot where he hit the home run in the 2001 All Star Game? Yeah, right there.

To trot in from the bullpen as they play U2's "Beautiful Day" is one of the best experiences of my life. And then, with my fiance' and future sister-in-law in attendance I threw 2 scoreless innings with 4 K's....all without my slider.

What I didn't tell anyone is that I kept the ball because I thought it was the last time I'd ever pitch.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there bro! Good luck!

    -Jeff (From the Shockers)

    ReplyDelete