Follow by Email

Monday, April 29, 2013

Whoops

So Saturday's outing didn't go as expect.  My pitching line looked terrible I'm sure. I hit 3 batters. I walked another one. I did manage to strike someone out on a change up down the middle that baffled him.  Beyond that, it was just flat out bad from the first pitch.  Jim wisely pulled me.

Now it's time to start wondering what happened.  I don't think it's a huge mystery.  I was way too up in my head and my mechanics went to all hell.  I suppose that's what happens when you spend 14 months preparing for that very moment.  When it's nearly all you can think about for over a year....

I crossed those white lines to the mound and I could barely walk. It was like everything I had worked for came rushing up.  All of the hours spent with a stupid green tube and a small bouncy ball.  All of the baseballs into a sock.  All of the conversations with Ken, Jamie, Joe, and others led up to me stepping across those lines and onto that mound.

And it all came over me at once.  I felt like I was going to trip over that chalk line.  Sure, it was weird taking over right field a few innings earlier.
-Side Note: It never fails.  I hadn't been in the outfield in almost two years and the first batter hits one right to me. 3 batters later I get a line drive.  I got both, but still....the ball always finds the new guy.
Even hitting was fine.  My swing was goofy a bit since I hadn't been in a game in a while and seen live pitching since about September of 2011 so I wasn't worried.  I made contact pretty well and had a good at bat on the strikeout.  Overall, not terrible.

For whatever reason, I expected pitching to just come back.  Like I had never left.  I had great practice outings and have thrown so many strikes over the last few months it was like I couldn't fail. But I did and did so in incredible style. I couldn't find a rhythm, a release poitn, movement, velocity, none of those things. I'm not sure I could have hti the broadside of a barn.  This after having yet another great bullpen a few days earlier and declaring myself ready to roll.  Hell, even our field manager Jim thought I'd be a nice surprise coming out of the bullpen.

Well, so much for that.  It's very hard to put into words the canyons of difference between expectations and execution.

Chuck, my regular catcher, texted me and said I should go out there and reverse my thinking.  Expect nothing.  Expect lots of line drives and home runs. See what happens.  I don't think he's wrong.

There are 23 more games this season.  I expect to throw in 22 of them and I expect to be good in 20 of them.  I have about one blow up per season.  Well, this was one of them. Let's hope there are no more.

I do want to mention a few things for those that have hung with me this long.
1. My teammates are great.  I got a lot of texts and emails that just said "Way to get back out there." They were from new guys, old guys, everyone.  I really appreciated those.  It meant a lot.  It was good to get back out there.  I'll only get better.  Eventually, nobody will remember that first outing.
2. The mental part of doing this was more than I could have imagined. It was REALLY hard.  I couldn't even see the catcher's glove out there.  I just saw a batter.  In all of my warmups, I couldn't believe how close home plate was.  Saturday, it felt like it was a mile away. Kudos to guys like Jamie Moyer, Jake Peavy, Joe Nathan and Nate Bergher who get back out there like nothing ever happened.  That's unreal.
3.  I'm ready to roll.  I'm want to do this. I don't want to be the right fielder. I want to be THE pitcher in this league.  I want my team to win. I want to come in and put them on my back and get to the finish line and win a championship.

That's what I signed up for. That's what I've worked for. I'll keep you guys posted. Keep up with us:
http://www.pssbl.com/Team.aspx?t=44

Thanks.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Saturday

Well, the first game is Saturday. I'm scheduled to throw an inning.

This is it. Well, as long as the Northwest weather cooperates that is.

I'm really nervous. I had a great warmup on Wednesday night.  I threw about 40 pitches.  I threw pretty hard...about 90% of where I was. The cutter started working. The change was slow. The fastball popped and I would just push off harder to dial it up and down.

My arm certainly hurt afterward, but again...all muscle.

I'm not going to get any more ready. Bring on the Stingrays.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A chat with Joe Nathan

At Friday's game, I got a chance to chat with Joe Nathan.

Joe is currently a staple in the Texas bullpen but spent most years as a dominant closer with the Minnesota Twins.  He was lights out often carrying a sub 2 ERA.  He would make dominant hitters look silly on a fairly regular basis.  In fact, he would do so enough to pass Rick Aguilera as the Twins' all time saves leader.

Not long ago, Joe joined the Tommy John club.  He missed all of the 2010 season with it and went back to spring training in 2012 only 11 months after his surgery.

I wanted to talk to Joe because I felt he would be able to provide some really great insight on fighting his way back to pitching.  I also figured he would be able to help me understand what some of my problems were.

Joe said that he STILL hasn't regained his velocity.  He felt that much of it was mental and some of it was physical.  Despite all of the work that he's done with strength training and physical therapy, it has never really come back for him.  So, you have to make adjustments.

He said it was nuts to come back so early.  He told me he had "no business" being in spring training so soon and regrets doing so. He reminded me to take my time and to not be in a huge rush though he understood the desire to start pitching again.

Joe was honest and encouraging. It was really great to just have 5 minutes to chat with him and get a little reassurance that I'm not going crazy.  He really helped me more than he knew.  That 5 minutes was distinctly valuable to me.

Maybe it's not a coincidence that I had a fantastic bullpen on Saturday. I started a LOT of legwork recently at the gym so I can use less arm and more lower body.  It seems to have paid off as I'm now getting significant separation from the rubber and striding more down the slope of the mound.  I did leave a few pitches up and in which I wasn't thrilled about and the change up was riding high which is precisely where I do NOT want it.  It'll get better.

Thanks again to Joe Nathan for really lifting my spirits and for being so honest and forthcoming.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Feeling better

Hi everyone,

I've been feeling a bit better with the throwing.  It finally feels like things are getting back on par with where I used to be.  I'm beginning to believe that mechanics are actually a pretty big part of my problem with velocity.

Kyle Boddy (www.drivelinebaseball.com) posted a video last week about Ubaldo Jimenez and how such a small tweak can make such a huge difference.  Jimenez, it ends up, is breaking his hand from his glove VERY early in the windup which causes him to stutter just a bit on his back leg. Basically, they were trying to fix a mechanics issue and he ends up a bit wobbly. This caused a dramatic decrease in his velocity.  From what I can see, I'd also argue that this will eventually cause him to be more up in the zone as well.  As he tries to aim his pitches, which pitchers tend to start doing when they miss, he'll lose even more velocity and movement.

The other thing that he mentioned was the unathletic delivery to the mound. While it's always been odd, as Kyle points out, it's now looking almost forced.  I often feel the same way with pitching nowadays. I used to be able to throw as loose as anything and now it feels very forced.  Some days are easier than others of course and I do expect this to get better over time.

I'm guessing that this is mostly up in my head and I just need to relax and throw.  One thing I've been doing more of is driving harder with my back leg.  I'm doing the sock throwing (on a downward plane) with weights on my legs hoping to increase my hip flexor muscles. Of course, I've also been incredibly diligent with squats, leg plyo work, and walking lunges.  This seems to help not only with pitching, but with hitting too.

So, it's time to get out of my head and trust my body to remember what it's supposed to do. At least somewhat.

Here's the link to Kyle's excellent writeup:
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/ubaldo-jimenez-and-his-missing-96-mph-heater-a-mechanical-look/