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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.  

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