Questions/Answers 2016

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     On Sunday, January 03, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

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0001.  Sad

I've always suspected that the explosion of injuries in the NFL is due to the use of HGH. I can't prove it but I do believe the following report.

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Payton Manning Used Human Growth Hormone
Travis Waldron Sports Reporter, The Huffington Post
Ryan Grim Washington Bureau Chief, The Huffington Post

Explosive Documentary Links Peyton Manning, Major Athletes To Doping Ring.

The quarterback and his wife received human growth hormone in 2011, an alleged supplier asserts in a new undercover investigation.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning during a 2015 NFL game. A new report alleges that Manning and his wife obtained human growth hormone, which is banned in the NFL, when he was hurt in 2011.

An Indianapolis anti-aging clinic supplied quarterback Peyton Manning with human growth hormone, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the NFL, a pharmacist who once worked at the clinic asserts in a new special report from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.

The report, “The Dark Side,” is the result of a month's long investigation in which Liam Collins, a British hurdler, went undercover in an attempt to expose the widespread nature of performance-enhancing drugs in global sports.

As a cover story, Collins tells medical professionals tied to the trade of performance-enhancing drugs that he is hoping for one last shot at glory at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Manning is just one of many high-profile players the report names and raises questions about.

Manning issued a statement Saturday night strongly denying the allegations, claiming that "whoever said this is making stuff up."

The report airs on Sunday but was shared in advance with The Huffington Post.

As part of the investigation, Collins connected with Charlie Sly, a pharmacist based in Austin, Texas, who worked at the Guyer Institute, the Indiana-based anti-aging clinic, in 2011.

Manning missed the 2011 season, when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, after undergoing neck surgery.

In the documentary, Sly tells Collins, who is taking secret video of his interactions, that he was “part of a medical team that helped [Manning] recover” from the surgery. Sly alleges that the clinic mailed growth hormone and other drugs to Manning’s wife, Ashley Manning, so that the quarterback’s name was never attached to them.

“All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs,” Sly says in the video. “Like growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. And it would never be under Peyton’s name, it would always be under her name.”

Manning and his wife also came to the clinic after its normal business hours for intravenous treatments, Sly tells Collins on the undercover video.

Manning left the Colts after the 2011 season to sign with Denver. The NFL banned human growth hormone as part of its 2011 collective bargaining agreement with players, but did not begin testing for it until 2014. No player has ever tested positive.

It would never be under Peyton’s name, it would always be under her name."

Manning’s agent denied the details of the report to Al Jazeera, calling Sly’s assertions “outrageous and wrong.” But the statement does not deny that growth hormones were shipped to Manning's wife, only insisting that such matters were a matter of medical privacy.

Manning “has never done what this person is suggesting,” his agent told Al Jazeera. “The treatment he received at the Guyer Institute was provided on the advice of his physician and with the knowledge of team doctors and trainers.”

“Any medical treatment received by Ashley is a private matter of hers, her doctor, and her family,” the agent said.

The credibility of the report hinges largely on whether Sly should be believed, or whether he's simply concocting stories to impress Collins. Several details lend significant credibility to Sly's assertions.

First, Sly and the ring he is associated with do, in fact, obtain drugs for Collins, which the network says it retained as evidence.

In a stunning scene, Taylor Teagarden, an eight-year MLB veteran, appears in one of the undercover videos, openly discussing his use of performance-enhancing drugs during the previous season.

Al Jazeera confirmed that Sly did work at the anti-aging clinic that treated Manning; it is difficult to imagine how Sly would have had knowledge of any arrangement to ship drugs to Manning's wife if he were not operating with genuine insider knowledge. (Sly also describes an interaction with Manning, telling Collins that the quarterback is “really cool if you just sit down with him.”)

Collins, in some ways, was the perfect athlete to put at the center of the operation. He's no stranger to the shade, having himself been tied up in a fraud scam in recent years.

Beyond the allegations against Manning, the report calls into question the effectiveness of testing regimes meant to prevent performance-enhancing drug use in professional sports, from American leagues to the Olympics.

Collins’ undercover quest took him from the Bahamas, where he connected with a doctor that claimed to supply performance-enhancing drugs to Bahamian Olympic athletes, to Canada, where he met naturopathic physician Brandon Spletzer and pharmacist Chad Robertson, who devised a “cutting edge” drug program for Collins that included up to 10 injections each day.

Collins then connected with Sly, who has “taken smart drugs to a whole new level,” according to Spletzer.

“The Dark Side” paints a picture of an underground marketplace where athletes can easily obtain drugs that are hard to detect even with sophisticated drug tests like those implemented by MLB, the NFL and the Olympics. And it raises questions about how serious the owners of professional sports teams are about rooting out drug use, which can make the games more exciting and profitable, while doing damage to the bodies of players, not owners.

I can take a guy with average genetics and make him a world champion."

“No one’s got caught, because the system’s so easy to beat,” Robertson, the pharmacist, brags to Collins. “And it still is, that’s the sad fact. I can take a guy with average genetics and make him a world champion.”

Robertson designed a program for Collins that included prescription fertility and hormone drugs, other substances labeled as “not for human consumption” and illegal drugs. Sly, meanwhile, preached the effectiveness of Delta-2, a hormone supplement that is “steroidal in nature” but is not an anabolic steroid, according to online product descriptions.

“There's a bunch of football players who take this, and a bunch of baseball players who take it too," Sly tells Collins in the documentary.

“Delta-2 is not for use by anybody subject to performance-enhancing drug tests,” state online reviews for the product. Major League Baseball has banned the drug explicitly.

The report does not link Manning to Delta-2, but Sly and Robertson name multiple football players as customers, including Green Bay Packers linebacker Mike Neal. Neal, Sly says, connected him with multiple teammates, including defensive end Julius Peppers. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is another NFL player he has supplied, Sly says.

Sly also names Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman as players who received the drug from him. He also claims in the report he gave drugs to Mike Tyson.

Delta-2 is designed to stay ahead of drug tests, Sly explains on video. He tells Collins that he provided the drug to Dustin Keller, a tight end who last played for the Miami Dolphins and allegedly used Delta-2 while in college at Purdue University and then before the NFL Combine, according to Sly. (Keller did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment).

“We just used Delta-2 because it wasn’t detectable,” Sly says.

Sly also says that he provided Clay Matthews, Green Bay’s Pro Bowl linebacker, with the prescription painkiller Percocet to help him deal with pain before at least one game. He also brags in one undercover video that Matthews texted him in an attempt to obtain Toradol, a powerful painkiller that is banned in many countries but not in the United States.

Harrison, Zimmerman and Howard all denied using the drugs to the network Neal, Peppers, Matthews and Tyson did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

Robertson, the pharmacist, and Spletzer, the neuropathic physician, did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. Sly, when pressed by Al Jazeera, backtracked, saying that his claims about supplying the drugs to athletes were “false and incorrect.”

In a subsequent statement to Al Jazeera, he walked back the comments even further, saying that Collins took advantage of him while Sly was grieving the death of his fiancée.


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     Without scientific evidence, this article is pure hearsay.

     Nevertheless, this article will force the National Football League to test their athletes for banned medications.

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0002.  Athletics, Jarrod Parker agree to one-year deal
San Jose Mercury News
December 19, 2015

OAKLAND, CA: The A's avoided salary arbitration with right-handed starter Jarrod Parker Saturday, agreeing with him on a one-year deal for the 2016 season.

Parker, 27, will receive $850,000, half of it guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the club also is waiting to hear back from lefty Scott Kazmir, a free agent who spent all of 2014 and the first half of 2015 pitching behind Sonny Gray at the top of the Oakland rotation. He's a free agent, and is amenable to returning to the A's.

At the same time, it's been reported that the Orioles, Dodgers and Royals all have competing offers out to Kazmir, who seems to be close to accepting a three-year deal from one of the four teams.

Parker hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2013, missing the last two season recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander was working his way back from a second ligament-replacement surgery when on May 9 he came out of an injury rehabilitation assignment start with Triple-A Nashville.

At the time he was considered a start or two away from returning to the A's rotation, but an elbow injury shut him down again. There was some concern that the ligament had blown again, but it was a fracture of the medial epicondyle, which was remedied by surgery 10 days later.

He didn't pitch again in 2015, and while the A's are hopeful that he will be a factor for them in 2016, they won't know until spring training and beyond if he's healthy enough to pitch.

The A's haven't made any announcement about their signing of another right-handed pitcher, free agent Henderson Alvarez, who on Friday posted on his Instagram account that the deal was done. Oakland likely is waiting for the results of a physical exam to seal the deal.

Alvarez, 26, will earn $4 million and could make another $1.6 million in incentives.

Parker joins a lengthy list of A's pitchers rehabbing injuries. They include Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Sean Nolin, Aaron Brooks and Parker. Hence the club's pursuit of Alvarez and Kazmir.


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     The article said:

01. "Jarrod Parker hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2013."
02. "Mr. Parker missed the last two season recovering from two Tommy John surgeries."
03. "On May 09, 2015, Mr. Parker fractured of the medial epicondyle."

     Mr. Parker did not fracture the medial epicondyle.

     The orthopedic surgeon drilled the hole through the medial epicondyle too close to the edge of the medial epicondyle and that part of the medial epicondyle broke off.

     Orthopedic surgeons have to stop drilling holes through the medial epicondyle.

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0003.  Sapient Global Markets brings risk management to big leagues
Boston Globe
December 19, 2015

Dave Donovan figures what’s good for banking and the financial industry is good for baseball and sports in general. So the managing general partner of Sapient Global Markets in Boston is bringing risk management to major sports.

Donovan, a Marblehead native and Natick resident, is talking to teams about building financial risk management models to help make better financial decisions and protect their assets — essentially their players.

“Because there’s such an emphasis by teams on acquiring the right players, especially now where you have financial constraints with luxury taxes, etc., we’re looking at it the same way as we do with banks,” Donovan said. “Banks want to make as much money as they possibly can. Their constraint is regulation. They have stress tests they have to do for the government after banks almost took down the world because they weren’t financially compliant. We’ve been working with these banks to measure their risks and you can apply the same concepts in sports.

“Banks have portfolios of securities and they need to have those securities managed in a way that they can understand their risks at all points, 24/7. They measure it against a number of outstanding events that could happen that could potentially affect that portfolio, whether it be oil rising to $100 a barrel or unemployment going up to 10 percent or a nuclear war and a number of other things. We model against that. In baseball, you can do a similar exercise and get a good read on your portfolio.

“Your roster is no different than a portfolio of securities. Those are your assets. That’s what you’ve put your investment in, so it only makes sense that you should monitor your assets.”

Sapient Global Markets can build models for any situation, including individual players, by using formulas and calculations based on the data that is important to each team.

Models can be built for decisions in free agency, determining players’ strengths and weaknesses, finding the right position for a player, which ballpark best suits a player, putting pitchers in their best roles — everything can be measured.

When the Red Sox recently traded Wade Miley to the Mariners, they dealt one of their “low volatility” players — defined as someone who was durable and performed fairly well — instead of one of their “high volatility” players in Clay Buchholz, who is often injured.

In the deal, the Sox acquired Carson Smith, a reliever with a short but impressive track record. Relievers are considered more volatile than starters because their performances are more varied from year to year and they have a shorter shelf life.

Donovan also talks about “artificial intelligence,” which he defines as “basically machines taking data sets and then predicting the future. Banks will look at a person’s credit card history and they’ll use artificial intelligence to understand that person and then market specific things to that person.”

Artificial intelligence can take data — such as comparing the statistics of David Price with Zack Greinke — and make an objective analysis. There is no subjectivity of a scout.

Donovan isn’t saying this type of risk management is an exact science, but it’s another way for teams to analyze assets — at the very least, a guide. For the 1 percent of payroll a team would pay for these services, Donovan feels it’s a worthwhile investment.

It’s easier to build models when an organization has a defined philosophy and sticks to it. Dave Depew, the vice president of analytics for Sapient Global Markets, cited the Cardinals as a good example. The Red Sox have been inconsistent with their organizational philosophy in recent seasons and have had three last-place finishes in the last four years.

Was signing Price to a $217 million deal over seven years (with an opt-out clause after three years) a prudent decision?

The businessman, the hedge fund operator in John Henry, who just a year ago agreed with a study that handing out big contracts to pitchers 30 and older isn’t wise business, probably thinks not. But he assumed more risk on the lengthy contract because for the short term, the team needed an ace pitcher.

Donovan feels the models can help teams define and read their markets better. How did the Red Sox not know the pitching market would explode after Homer Bailey’s six-year, $105 million deal with the Reds last March? Not reading that properly cost them the chance to re-sign Jon Lester. One offseason later, the Red Sox spent about $82 million more on Price than they offered Lester.

And did the Red Sox misread the market once again when they gave Rick Porcello a four-year, $82.5 million deal before he ever threw a pitch for them, rewarding him for a body of work built when he was no better than the No. 3 starter for the Tigers? Also, the Red Sox signed two players with high volatility last offseason in Hanley Ramirez (injury prone and bad for team chemistry) and Pablo Sandoval (weight issues).

Donovan feels his company’s risk models will help teams not only make better decisions, but also optimize their profits in a climate where TV rights deals may have peaked and where luxury tax concerns (the Red Sox will pay $1.8 million this year) are real and influence how big market-teams make decisions.

PROFESSING TO TEACH

Greg Maddux is expected to join a West Coast team — likely the Dodgers — as a part-time special assistant. Maddux said he doesn’t want a full-time coaching career. His son, Chase, is a freshman pitcher at UNLV and Maddux wants to spend time watching his games. He also enjoys traveling with his family.

Maddux said broadcasting is out. “That’s not my thing,” he said from his Las Vegas home.

Maddux spent a few years with the Rangers when his brother, Mike, was the pitching coach. Mike has since moved on to the Nationals.

“I enjoy working with pitchers,” Greg Maddux said. “If there’s something I can do to help a young guy think about the game more and what he’s throwing and why he’s throwing it, I can help like that.”

Maddux and former teammate Tom Glavine are two rare pitchers who made it to the Hall of Fame while barely breaking 90 miles per hour. The secret to their success was not pitching at max effort. In other words, they didn’t try to throw every pitch as hard as they could and therefore put stress on their shoulder and elbow. It’s how they went so long in their careers without serious injury.

So what can Maddux, the ultimate pitchers’ pitcher, teach a young stud throwing 100 m.p.h.?

“Well, if you combine that velocity with the knowledge of how to pitch hitters, you come up with Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez,” Maddux said. “So I think I can help a young pitcher.”

He was surprised to hear that Zack Greinke is thought to be the active pitcher most similar to Maddux in terms of knowing how to pitch and set up hitters and his pitch location.

“I hadn’t heard that before,” Maddux said. “Maybe I should be compared to Zack. He’s definitely a guy who’s fun to watch the way he goes about pitching. He’s one of the best.”


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     The article said:

01. "Sapient Global Markets can build models for any situation, including individual players, by using formulas and calculations based on the data that is important to each team."
02. "Models can be built for decisions in free agency, determining players’ strengths and weaknesses, finding the right position for a player, which ballpark best suits a player, putting pitchers in their best roles — everything can be measured."

     How can Sapient Global Markets account for me going from 4.28 ERA to 1.78 ERA.

     Insread of risk management, professional baseball needs someone that is able to make baseball pitchers the best that they are able to become.

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0004.  The billion-dollar rotation: Just how much are Mets' aces worth?
New York Post
December 21, 2015

We know the Mets’ rotation is special. But I wanted to know how special. So I tried to quantify it, and this is what I came up with:

The Billion-Dollar Rotation.

My question: If Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler were made free agents this off-season, how much would they receive collectively?

I thought deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard would all obtain contracts in the $250 million range, Matz at about $150 million and Wheeler at $100 million. Add it up and it is $1 billion. Yep, with a “b.”

Six current or former front-office executives were contacted and five agreed the group would haul in about $1 billion in total. As one NL head of baseball operations said: “I do think $1 billion is a reasonable estimate. Certainly, their top four [all but Wheeler] would be more appealing than most, if not all, of the pitchers who changed teams this offseason.”

An AL head of pro scouting said: “We could argue specifics on each player, but I would have to think you’d get to a billion one way or another.”

The key here is teams would be bidding for not just, in the words of one NL GM, “absurd talent,” but the kind of youth that hardly ever shows up in free agency. DeGrom is the oldest at 27; Harvey is the closest to actual free agency and that is three years away.

What would hurt their markets is that all but Syndergaard already have undergone Tommy John surgery and there is sentiment in the game that there is just a certain span likely between having one procedure and the need for another. And Syndergaard’s power stuff would put him — unfortunately — high on the list of pitchers likely to need Tommy John in the future.

However, this free-agent bazaar — or should it be bizarre? — has exemplified how far teams will go to secure talented starters. David Price got the most ever for a pitcher, $217 million over seven years, and his record for annual value did not even last a week before Zack Greinke was given a six-year deal at $206.5 million that pays him through age 37.

Johnny Cueto got $130 million despite persistent concerns about his elbow. Jordan Zimmermann got $110 million, though there was general agreement his stuff was down last year. Jeff Samardzija got $90 million and was among the majors’ worst full-time starters in 2015.

Ten free-agent starters had signed multi-year contracts through the weekend totaling $875 million. Add in the five more one-year deals (including for Bartolo Colon, who will be a placeholder in the Mets rotation until Wheeler returns) and it is $918.05 million.

The total for those 15 starters falls short of what, I believe, the Mets’ five would receive. My estimate and that of almost all my panel was that deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard would top Price’s figure. In fact, it was not out of the question because of their youth that they could get eight-, nine- or even 10-year deals. Four of the six executives actually said because of Syndergaard’s age (23), health and ceiling, he would receive the largest contract (“easily the most” in the words of the NL GM). The other two said deGrom because of track record.

The sport-wide love for Matz is stark, though he has started just nine games (including three in the playoffs) and had TJ surgery. However, he is a 24-year-old lefty who throws in the mid-90s with poise. There is no guesswork about that because he has done it in the majors.

The Red Sox, for example, invested (in salary and tax) $135.5 million in Cubans Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada, not sure when they would play in the majors and at positions less valuable than lefty starter. I am sure Boston (and many clubs) would invest at least that much in Matz by himself — probably more.

As for Wheeler, yes, he is not due back from TJ surgery before June or July. But he is just 25 and has already demonstrated at least No. 3 starter ability, and I would think most (if not all) of the 30 teams would spend $90 million or more to have Wheeler rather than Samardzija.

Whether Wheeler would get $75 million or Syndergaard perhaps $300 million, the end result is the Mets have en masse what teams are bidding like mad to try to procure this offseason — prime-aged, high-end starters.

Which does apply some pressure on the organization to capitalize on this moment. With only Harvey arbitration-eligible, the quintet will be paid roughly $8 million in 2016. That will rise significantly and steadily in future years, and so will the risk of injury and decline in performance.

For now, though, because they have five 20-somethings with such high ceilings, the Mets have what one NL player-personnel head called “a unique, amazing rotation.”

Shelby Miller would be no better than the Mets’ fourth starter and a year from now might fall behind Matz and Wheeler, too. Yet to land Miller, the Diamondbacks were willing to give up the No. 1 pick in last June’s draft (Dansby Swanson), a good two-way outfielder (Ender Inciarte) and well-regarded pitching prospect (Aaron Blair).

With the hunger for starters, should the Mets — looking at a free-agent market that did not have the shortstop or center fielder they needed — try, for example, to trade Syndergaard for Arizona center fielder A.J. Pollock or Harvey for Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts and buy a starter anywhere from Mike Leake to Price in free agency to keep the rotation deep and strong?

But even as currently constituted, the Mets are contenders because they have what every other organization dreams about: the Billion-Dollar Rotation.


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     This is what I was trying to prevent.

     If Marvin Miller had not been so greedy and ran the Major League Baseball Players Association fairly, then all professional baseball players would receive salaries based on the Bell Shaped Curve.

     In professional baseball, like the national economy, the top one percent take ninety percent of the available revenue.

     If professional baseball players belong to the Major League Baseball Player Association were a true union, then they would fairly discribute salaries within the Bell Shaped Curve, where nobody receives more that three standard deviations.

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0005.  Yankees dangling Nova, but so far no takers
New York Post
December 21, 2015

Tasked with the chore of filling the bullpen role Justin Wilson did very well last year, the Yankees aren’t ignoring a rotation that has as many question marks as arms.

“They are looking for a starter," a baseball executive said Monday.

That means the Yankees are seeking to acquire a starter through a trade or signing a free agent who will accept a minor-league deal with a major-league spring training invite. The Yankees have made it clear they aren’t in the free-agent market at any position.

Even though the Yankees have six starters, not counting Bryan Mitchell, there are questions attached to all of them.

Ace Masahiro Tanaka had a bone spur in his right elbow removed after last season and is pitching with a small tear in that elbow suffered in 2014. Luis Severino has made just 11 big-league starts. CC Sabathia has a right knee problem and spent most of October in an alcohol rehab facility. Nathan Eovaldi didn’t pitch after Sept. 5 due to an inflamed right elbow.

And since Ivan Nova, who’ll turn 29 next month, will likely command in the area of $4.5 million for this upcoming season, his last before free agency, the Yankees have let teams know he is available after a woeful 2015.

“They are offering him out there, but I don’t know if there’s any takers," the executive said of the right-hander, who was shopped at the July’s trading deadline and whose name surfaced in talks with the Reds when they were looking to deal Johnny Cueto.

Nova, whose 2015 season didn’t start until late June because of Tommy John surgery in 2014, went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA in 17 starts. He ended the season with four straight losses and a 7.20 ERA during that stretch.

While the Yankees insist Severino, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo aren’t available, it will be difficult to land a young, controllable pitcher via a trade since a team isn’t inclined to take lesser prospects for a commodity that is hard to find.

Of course, the Yankees could move closer Andrew Miller or left fielder Brett Gardner. They would likely bring back a young starter ready to pitch in the big leagues and trim the payroll. Gardner is entering the second leg of a four-year deal worth $52 million. Miller has three years and $27 million remaining.


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     It is good to know that Larry Rothchild is doing a great job.

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0006.  Blue Jays suffered fewest pitching injuries in baseball in 2015
Toronto Star
December 22, 2015

In June of 2012, after the Blue Jays lost their third starting pitcher to serious injury in four days, then-manager John Farrell offered a little gallows humor: “We performed an exorcism on the mound last night,” Farrell said, unsmiling.

Unfortunately the demons the Jays were fighting proved earthbound, as their pitching staff continued to be plagued by arm injuries the following season. Granted, all of Major League Baseball was dealing with a crisis of pitcher injuries in 2012 and 2013, as Tommy John surgeries, in particular, reached historic levels. But the Jays seemed to be suffering more than almost every other team.

Since then, however, they have enjoyed a marked turnaround. Among the many things that went right for the Jays in 2015 was their overall health, but particularly the health of their pitchers. They had by far the fewest pitcher injuries of any team this past season, according to research by Jeff Zimmerman, the baseball-blogging analyst.

The Jays had just two pitchers serve time on the disabled list in 2015 — rookie right-hander Aaron Sanchez missed seven weeks with a lat strain in his throwing shoulder, and Marcus Stroman missed most of the season with a torn ACL suffered in spring training — while no other team had fewer than six. The league average, meanwhile, was 9.5 pitcher injuries per team.

In 2012, Jays’ pitchers made 11 trips to the DL, while in 2013, they made 15.

The Jays are tight-lipped about the specific injury-prevention techniques they employed after the 2013 season. They view whatever ability they may have discovered to protect baseball’s most fragile assets as a competitive advantage. But we do know that starting in 2014, under former general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the team shifted away from one-size-fits-all pitch counts and innings limits in favor of a more individualized approach to managing pitchers’ workloads.

“We’ve made some adjustments in our entire organization in the last few years and they’ve certainly showed dividends,” said Jays’ pitching coach Pete Walker, who spoke to the Star over the phone on Tuesday from his Connecticut home. “The focus is on health and constant communication with our pitchers. I think it’s really paid off so far.”

Without going into specifics, Walker said the revamped approach has been implemented not only at the major-league level, but throughout the Jays’ farm system as well.

Walker said the coaching staff also amended how they tracked pitchers’ throwing sessions, paying particular attention to how relievers are used. Fans may have also noticed that in the last two years the team’s younger starting pitchers occasionally had their turn in the rotation skipped in favour of a spot starter, even if they did not have an apparent injury.

After the 2013 season the Jays adopted the weighted-ball throwing program — popularized by Steve Delabar — throughout the organization. And this past year, starting in spring training, players were outfitted with what looked like sports bras by a company called Catapult, which designs wearable sensors that collect a slew of biometric data.

Another key, Walker said, is much simpler. They encouraged pitchers to be honest about any lingering soreness or fatigue and kept lines of communication open. “It’s talking to the pitchers, communicating with them, not creating heroes,” Walker said. “And certainly when there are minor issues you nip them in the bud. I think we’ve been really good at doing that.”

What remains to be seen is whether the Jays’ pitchers’ relative health the last two years is just a statistical variation — correcting the injury spikes of 2012 and 2013 — or if the turnaround is truly the result of the team’s altered approach. Walker is confident it’s the latter.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “It’s communicating, it’s being smart, being proactive and I think we’ve done a real good job with that over the last few years and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue.”


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     Blue Jays’ pitching coach, Pete Walker, said:

01. “We’ve made some adjustments in our entire organization in the last few years and they’ve certainly showed dividends.”
02. “The focus is on health and constant communication with our pitchers."
03. "I think it’s really paid off so far.”
04. "The the revamped approach has been implemented not only at the major-league level, but throughout the Jays’ farm system as well."
05. "The coaching staff also amended how they tracked pitchers’ throwing sessions, paying particular attention to how relievers are used."
06. "After the 2013 season, the Jays adopted the weighted-ball throwing program throughout the organization."
07. "Steve Delabar popularized throwing the heavy ball."

     In 1967, I started throwing heavy balls starting with a 06 lb. iron ball and finishing with a 15 lb. lead ball.

     Since 1983, I have taught all my baseball pitchers to throw the heavy ball.

     I believe that Pete Walker is talking to Ray Frosti.

     Ray's sons started throwing heavy balls when they trained for a summer in my backyard.

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0007.  Righetti diligent in researching Giants' new arms
MLB.com
December 22, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Times like this are when the Giants can consider themselves especially fortunate to have Dave Righetti as their pitching coach.

Righetti realizes that it behooves him to learn as much as possible about San Francisco's prized acquisitions for the starting rotation, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, before Spring Training begins in mid-February. As the Major Leagues' longest-tenured pitching coach, Righetti had no trouble gathering background on the pair of free-agent right-handers. His extensive network of contacts proved invaluable.

Righetti consulted both of the pitching coaches that Samardzija worked with in Chicago -- Chris Bosio of the Cubs and Don Cooper of the White Sox. Righetti considers Bosio a friend and was a New York Yankees teammate of Cooper's in 1985. To glean background on Cueto, Righetti chatted with his Kansas City counterpart, Dave Eiland, who happens to be another ex-Yankees teammate. Righetti also felt comfortable discussing Cueto with Reds manager Bryan Price, a former pitching coach.

Due to Righetti's sheer experience, which encompasses performing as an All-Star closer with the Yankees and winning three World Series as a member of the Giants' staff, it's safe to say that his credibility wasn't an issue when he placed these calls.

"It's really easy for me to get what I need without making them feel weird," said Righetti, who joined the Giants' staff in 2000 following a professional playing career that spanned 1977-95.

Righetti could rely strictly on watching videos of each pitcher until his eyes glaze over. In cases such as this, however, there's no such thing as too much information. "It'd be like getting Huddy," Righetti said Tuesday, referring to the signing of free-agent right-hander Tim Hudson during the 2013-14 offseason. "You know the guy. You've seen him a thousand times. But do you really know the guy?"

Righetti's diligence is such that he likely would have conducted similar research had Cueto and Samardzija been non-roster invitees. "It's no different from grabbing a [Yusmeiro] Petit, a [Juan] Gutierrez or a [Jean] Machi. You gotta do your work," Righetti said.

After a 2015 season in which San Francisco's once-formidable starting contingent ranked 10th in the National League with 78 quality starts, Righetti began doing his homework immediately. He said that he watched as many postseason telecasts as possible that involved a free-agent starter who might interest the Giants. Righetti thus had a clear view of what the Giants might be able to expect from the likes of Cueto, Zack Greinke and David Price.

"I was a little bit more diligent," Righetti said. "... I had a feeling that we were going to do something. I thought we were going to go out and get a guy; I didn't know it was going to be two. I didn't think it was rhetoric. The organization was pretty serious about understanding that we needed innings. That bullpen wasn't going to be able to hold up."


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     Giants baseball pitching coach, Dave Righetti, said:

01. "I was a little bit more diligent."
02. "I had a feeling that we were going to do something."
03. "I thought we were going to go out and get a guy."
04. "I didn't know it was going to be two."
05. "I didn't think it was rhetoric."
06. "The organization was pretty serious about understanding that we needed innings."
07. "That bullpen wasn't going to be able to hold up."

     I thought that the major league baseball pitching coach's job was to teach their baseball pitchers what they have to do to become that best baseball pitchers that they are able.

     It sounds to me as Mr. Righetti failed.

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0008.  College Baseball Pitcher Responds to My Critique

Thanks for the DVD and all the critiques you gave me to work on. I will work hard on them.

I think I need to definitely take my body more towards the first base side on my torque pitches and take my body towards the third base side on my maxline pitches.

I also need to stop pulling down my pitches and finish my hand for in the strike zone.

I need to keep my arm back and let my heel land before anything comes forward.

I need to get the circle of friction facing more towards home plate on my two-seam maxline fastball to get more movement.

I need to get more behind the torque fastball and throw it with my thumb more forward to get more fastball action instead of slider action.

I like the horizontal rebounding and force-coupling on my lid throws.

I need to put more spin on the ball on my curve ball. Both torque and maxline.

I liked my arm action and that I did not take the ball behind me.

I liked how it got a lot easier commanding the reverse breaking ball by just setting the hand, getting the elbow up and pronating the upper arm.

The curve ball also came easier after practicing the lid throws and implementing the horizontal rebound when throwing the curve. It made it much easier to throw.

On the horizontal rebound does the forearm go further horizontally past the elbow and triceps towards third base or do we just aim for that but it actually stays in line with elbow and triceps when the elbow is turned in and up toward the ear?

I slow motioned my bucket lid throws and my forearm was just staying in line with my triceps but not going past it horizontally towards third base.

(This is a bit hard to explain over text)

I also recently just sprained my right ankle landing incorrectly off the mound on my finish while throwing a bullpen.

I'll be out of training for hopefully only a few more days.

Is there anything you know of that I can do to rehab and strengthen my right ankle to get it ready for the season?


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     You did a great job of critiquing your baseball pitching motion and what you need to work on.

     Sorry to hear that you sprained your pitching arm side ankle.

     When you land with your pitching arm side foot pointing toward first base and your body moving toward home plate, you could catch your toe spikes that causes you to roll your pitching ankle.

     To prevent rolling your pitching ankle, like when you land on the heel of your glove foot first, you need to also need to land on the heel of the pitching foot first.

     The best remedy for twisted ankles is immediate ice wrapped om a plastic bag wrapped around the ankle for twenty minutes, followed with five minutes of normal walking without applying pressure that makes the injury worse and repeat every two hours until you are able to walking normally without pain.

     You asked: "With regard to the horizontal rebound:

Does the forearm go further horizontally past the elbow and triceps towards third base or do we just aim for that but it actually stays in line with elbow and triceps when the elbow is turned in and up toward the ear?"

     When the heel of your glove foot lands, I teach my baseball pitchers to drive the pitching arm side of their body diagonally across the front of their glove foot.

     During this body action, I teach my baseball pitchers to move their pitching elbow forward then upward to nearly vertical.

     Then, when my baseball pitchers start the explosive rotations of their hips and shoulders, I teach my baseball pitchers to 'throw' their pitching elbow inward toward their head.

     That action initiates the 'horizontal rebound.'

     When my baseball pitchers 'throw' their pitching elbow toward their head, they cause their pitching wrist, hand and baseball to move away from their head.

     This action lengthens the tendon of the contracting Latissimus Dorsi muscle.

     With the Lid throws, you have already 'horizontally rebounded' your pitching wrist, hand and baseball such that your pitching forearm pointing at second base.

     Eventually, you will be able to 'horizontally rebound' beyond pointing toward second base.

     Remember, I want you to start using your wrist weights with one-half intensity and gently increase your intensity, especially with your using 30 lb. wrist weights.

     For the first two weeks, you should start with 12 repetitions.

     I tell my baseball pitchers that, at release, I want their pitching forearm inside of vertical.

     To determine whether you release your pitches with vertical pitching forearms, try to freeze-frame near to the moment of release.

     Do not forget force-coupling where you drive your pitching forearm, wrist, hand and fingers toward the center of the strike zone and simultaneously recoil the pitching elbow.

     These parallel and oppositely-directed forces will add these two forces, such that you get a 'pronation snap' effect.

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0009.  Eric Tiefenthaler working with Dr. Brent Winchester

Just to keep you updated, I met with Dr. Winchester this morning.

I was talking with Dr. Winchester about pendulum swinging the arm up to driveline height and we realized that working with younger pitchers it may be hard for youth baseball pitchers to understand what a pendulum swing is.

My question for you is:

Are there any other verbal cues that you have used similar to "pendulum swing" to get the exact same result out of the back swing of the pitching arm?

We have every intention of using the exact pendulum swinging motion, but would like to increase our bank of cueing.


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     We call the first part of the baseball pitching motion, Preparation.

     Without a perfect Prepartion part, the other parts of the baseball pitching motion, Acceleration, Deceleration and Recovery, cannot achieve their maximum release velocity and release consistency.

     Baseball pitchers stand upright with their pitching foot in contact with the pitching rubber with both hands in the glove at waist high.

     To start the baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers need to move their pitching hand and baseball from their glove to the start of the Acceleration part.

     We call the movement, the Pendulum Swing.

     To perform the Pendulum Swing, baseball pitchers drop their pitching hand and baseball downwardly out of the glove then backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement.

     Driveline height is the height that baseball pitchers are able to vertically point their pitching upper arm.

     For an analogy, we use the pendulum action in Grandfather Clocks. For those baseball pitchers taht have not seen a tall Grandfather Clock, we need to find an enlarged photograph of one.

     At the end of the pendulum swing, baseball pitchers must have their pitching hand and baseball on the line from second base toward home plate with their pitching upper arm horizontal with the line across the shoulders and their pitching hand and baseball at driveline height with the palm of their pitching hand facing away from the baseball pitchers.

     The end of the Preparation Part becomes the start of the Acceleration Part where baseball pitchers drive their pitching hand and baseball in vertical straight lines from second base to home plate.

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0010.  Does baseball overvalue its pitchers?
Vavel
December 24, 2015

To anyone following Major League Baseball’s Hot Stove transactions this offseason, two things stand out regarding the progression of free agency: feared sluggers like Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes remain unsigned with no official offers yet announced, while a there's been a mad dash for the best available pitching, which has resulted in teams granting a series of unprecedented contracts to arguably undeserving pitchers.

The contract Jeff Samardzija signed with the San Francisco Giants on December 9 epitomizes the lengths to which teams will go to acquire a frontline starter. But the issue of whether or not the Notre Dame product can be considered a frontline starter remains up for debate. Although he is not being asked to anchor the rotation, a role that will remain in the hands of 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, the thirty-year-old right hander is guaranteed an average of $18 million a year for the next five years.

Without doubt, he offers the Giants much upside. Since becoming a starter in 2012, he has fanned over 200 batters in three of the last four seasons, and he has also managed to avoid serious injury while maintaining mid-to-high 90s velocity on his four-seamer. On the other hand, his win total has hit double digits only once in his career, a statistic which can be attributed to his pitching for lackluster Cubs and White Sox teams, but his 2015 season, the infamous “contract year,” left much to be desired. Samardzija led the American League in hits allowed, as well as both earned runs and home runs surrendered, while his earned run average ballooned to 4.96. While some players earn extra money for their postseason performance or clubhouse leadership, Samardzija has yet to find himself in either of those roles all too often. His playoff experience consists of one inning of relief with the Cubs in the 2008 NLDS.

Meanwhile, the Giants inked another free agent starter to replenish their once-dominant rotation: ex-Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto. Cueto’s career actually has many parallels to that of his new teammate. Both have offered comparable durability; each appears to be a lock for at least 200 innings. They are also similar in age, with the two born only months apart. Furthermore, both struggled significantly in 2015, although Cueto’s struggles primarily began after his midseason trade to the Kansas City Royals, where he posted an earned run average only two tenths lower than Samardzija’s.

However, other statistics show Cueto to be the superior pitcher. His lifetime earned run average of 3.30 (typically below 3.00 in recent seasons) far surpasses Samardzija’s 4.09, as does his lifetime WHIP of 1.181 versus Samardzija’s 1.278. While sabermetricians often dismiss win-loss records as archaic stats with little relevance, the bragging rights associated with being a pitcher whose team wins for him cannot be dismissed.

In 2012, Cueto put together a 19-9 record, which he surpassed in 2014 with a 20-9 record; each of those seasons put him in the top five in National League Cy Young Award voting. As relief pitching becomes more specialized, the famed twenty win threshold will become harder to reach. Despite Cueto’s advantages, he signed a six year contract worth $130 million, or a little over $21 million annually on the average, only a three million dollar difference from his future rotation-mate.

By no means is this trend unique to the San Francisco Giants. Around the league, recent signings reaffirm the trend of overpaying for pitching. On December 22, the St. Louis Cardinals added sinkerballer Mike Leake, a pitcher who has again been durable but little more than above-average, signing him to a five year, $80 million contract.

Meanwhile, in one of the biggest head scratchers of the offseason, the Detroit Tigers imported Mike Pelfrey from the Minnesota Twins, signing him to a two year deal worth a guaranteed $16 million, this despite his 6-11 record and 1.47 WHIP in 2015, as well as his 2014, in which he pitched his way out of the rotation after five starts. The tall right-hander is far removed from his career year of 2010 with the New York Mets, and even then, his statistics would have been an average to plus season for the aforementioned Mike Leake.

Speaking of the Mets, one would presume their arsenal of young pitchers to keep them immune from the overpay bug. They won the National League pennant in 2015 with their fearsome foursome of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz, all of whom have yet to hit arbitration, let alone free agency. In addition to these young arms, the Mets also have Zack Wheeler expected to make a midseason return from Tommy John surgery, as well as a couple prospects and farmhands down the pipeline.

Despite this wealth of pitching, they decided to re-sign veteran Bartolo Colon for another year at $7.25 million. While some may consider this a proactive move (especially given the Tommy John epidemic), as the starter delivered strong performances and invaluable veteran leadership with a team-first attitude (even pitching in relief in the 2015 postseason) the prior two seasons, numerous issues remain with Colon, including his age (43 on May 24), his weight (long reported at 285 lb) and potential related health problems, and his history of prior PED use.

Although these have long been concerns about the right-hander, they become magnified with another year. While the New York sports media expected Colon to earn in the four to five million dollar range from the Mets with the possibility of more from the open market, he will be earning $7.25 million from the notoriously cash-strapped Mets to presumably end up a long man or trade bait by the end of July.

The hyperinflation in free agent pitcher salaries is not limited to aces and mid-rotation starters; even the most obscure pitchers and lefty specialists are seeing a similar salary hike. While on the subject of the Mets, in addition to re-signing Colon, they also brought back thirty-two-year-old left handed relief pitcher Jerry Blevins on December 15. Although he excelled in his appearances for the Mets in 2015, retiring every batter he faced, he appeared in only seven games before taking a line drive to his pitching arm, fracturing it. Ultimately, when beginning rehab attempts in the thick of the Mets’ chase for a postseason spot, he broke it again in a freak accident.

The Mets had two other lefty specialist options in the organization: Josh Edgin, who is returning also from Tommy John, and Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 pick who put together a strong showing in 2015, despite being limited almost exclusively to low pressure situations. Yet they added Blevins, at roughly double his salary from the prior year despite his injuries and his relatively weak 2014 performance (a 4.91 ERA with the Washington Nationals).

To combat the rising costs of pitchers through free agency as well as the fears of underperformance and injury associated with long term contracts, other teams have looked to the trade market, yet even they’ve had to overpay for quality pitching.

The Arizona Diamondbacks established themselves as in “win now mode” with the signing of Zach Greinke and supplemented their pitching staff with a trade in which they sent outfielder Ender Inciarte, an elite defender, as well as pitching prospect Aaron Blair, ranked in the top 100 of all MLB prospects, and their first round draft selection Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves for twenty-five-year-old right-hander Shelby Miller, a pitcher who put together an impressive 2015 despite leading the National League in losses while pitching for a rebuilding Braves ballclub. However, the potential Arizona has sacrificed could certainly come back to ruin them.

No team understands this better than the Toronto Blue Jays, who sacrificed current Mets phenom Syndergaard and catcher Travis d’Arnaud, as well as outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra and catcher John Buck in 2012 for then-National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and a pair of backup catchers capable of catching the knuckleball. While d’Arnaud and Syndergaard appear to be cornerstones of the Mets’ future, Dickey never replicated his career year.

The trend is nothing new. Year in and year out, teams that commit to pitchers for several years often watch as their performance fails to justify the dollars pledged in the contract. No shortage of examples exist to demonstrate this trend. Almost four decades ago, the New York Yankees signed former Big Red Machine ace Don Gullett to a six-year contract, only to watch as shoulder problems limited the remainder of his career to only a season and a half.

Thirty years after the Gullett debacle, the Yankees imported Japanese starter Kei Igawa, signing him to a five-year contract worth a total of $20 million. His struggles were near immediate, and after June 2008 (the first year and a half), he languished in the minors. Even the Giants, the team who made the Samardzija and Cueto signings this month, have been burned before. After the 2006 season, they signed former Oakland star Barry Zito to a seven-year contract worth $126 million in guaranteed money. In his seven years, his statistics were unimpressive: a win-loss record of 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.439 WHIP.

Given the patterns of failure, or at best moderate success, one question remains for fans and executives around the sport: why haven’t teams become smarter with their years and their money? Although this question remains up for debate, one reality remains. The absence of a salary cap in MLB and the fact that the luxury tax only typically hurts one or two teams a season enables a series of competitive market bidding.

All executives share one common objective: winning. Their contracts are perpetuated based on the success of their clubs, and postseason teams yield greater revenues, which excite owners and local sports networks alike. To these contending teams, a starting pitcher who has succeeded in the middle of a rotation before offers a safer bet for success than a rookie or journeyman, despite the large contract. If this starter can provide a couple wins his alternative cannot, those wins might make the difference between an agonizing second-place finish and a World Series title.

As fans, as representatives of the fans, and as self-interested employees seeking contract extensions, a move that seems like overpaying to an outsider can easily make all the sense in the world, provided the team honestly thinks it stands a chance at playoff contention.

The other issue at hand, the issue that often escapes our minds when we read the sports sites and newspapers, is the inflation rate associated with salaries around the league. Truly elite starters are fetching record average annual values in free agency.

Last season, the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a contract exceeding $30 million per year, while this offseason, that record has since been eclipsed by those given to David Price (by the Boston Red Sox) and Zach Greinke this offseason. In a world where Greinke fetches $34 million per year from the Diamondbacks, a division rival like San Francisco must honestly ask itself if a starter like Samardzija and the expected 200 innings and 200 strikeouts he will likely deliver is worth half as much as Greinke. So far, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.


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     The idea that union members are able to negotiate individual salaries is the problem.

     The Major League Baseball Players Association should distribute the salaries to their members based on the three standard deviation Bell Curve.

     Until all the members of the Major Baseball League Players Association require their executives to take control of the salary distribute, with regard to baseball pitchers, professional teams have to teach and train injury-free baseball pitchers with the variety of high-quality baseball pitches.

     By increasing the percentage of injury-free highly skilled baseball pitchers, the few will not receive these outlandish contracts.

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0011.  How will 2016's pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery fare?
Fox Sports
December 28, 2015

Out of context, throwing a baseball for a living is not a particularly dangerous job. There are hundreds of other occupations that provide a greater threat to health on a daily basis than standing on a pitcher's mound. In the context of the game of baseball, however, pitching is a dangerous occupation. Besides the threat of a comebacker or awkward play at first base in which the pitcher has to cover, every pitch thrown during a game is a risk. Every pitcher in baseball is dealing with damage to his elbow in varying levels of severity, and as there's no telling how healthy a given pitcher's elbow is, the one pitch that could lead to serious injury is what makes the craft, in a word, totally unpredictable.

The success rate of Tommy John surgery is now so high that many fans take it for granted when an injury does occur, even going so far as to view it as some sort of rite of passage that every young pitcher must go through. But not everyone makes it back to the mound, and those that do are more likely to need another Tommy John at some point. We also know a lot more about how pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery than we used to, and it debunks a lot of previously-held beliefs.

On average, pitchers don't gain velocity, don't improve performance compared to their pre-injury numbers, and they're more likely to go on the disabled list with an injury to their throwing arm than a pitcher that didn't have surgery. While there is some evidence that TJ surgery might allow pitchers to not suffer as much age-related depreciation as those that have their original ligament, it's clear that this is a major surgery, and not something to be taken for granted.

With that said, there are a number of All-Star-caliber pitchers who are likely to make their return in 2016 (if all goes well), and they should be included in any analysis of the ongoing offseason transactions around baseball. 2015 was a particularly difficult year in terms of the talent of pitchers requiring Tommy John surgery, as a number of current and potential future aces had to undergo the procedure.

To help visualize the talent of the pitchers who had the procedure last year and could possibly return this coming season, I've plotted the average Wins Above Replacement in the year prior to pitchers undergoing surgery (I've set the lower cutoff at the year 2000, as it was the first year in which the number of surgeries was in the double digits). In other words, how collectively good were each year's Tommy John patients the year before they had surgery?

In terms of performance in the year prior to surgery, 2015 was the third-"best" year in the past decade and a half, eclipsed only by 2008 and 2001. 2008 saw a collection of above-average pitchers undergo the procedure, as Tim Hudson, Sergio Mitre, Jake Westbrook and Chris Capuano all had elbow injuries. 2001 claims the highest average WAR before surgery, as Pat Hentgen, Kris Benson and Scott Williamson were some of the bigger names at the time to get TJ.

If we look at the raw total WAR of our pitchers instead of the average, 2015 is still third, but this time behind 2014 and 2012. This is because the number of surgeries has gone up markedly since the start of 2012; while the yearly average number of Tommy John procedures was around 17 from 2000-2011, it has spiked to an average of over 28 in the past four years.

Now that we concretely know the overall level of talent in our 2015 Tommy John class, let's take a look at the 2016 performance projections for a select group of starters that are expected to return in 2016.

Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

ZiPs Projections: 132.0 Innings Pitched, 3.41/3.45 ERA/FIP, 2.9 Wins Above Replacement

ZiPs projects Darvish to throw 132 innings in 2016, based on the assumption that he'll miss about a month of the season. The system also has him down for 2.9 WAR, second only to Cole Hamels among Rangers starters (3.7 WAR). The 2015 mid-season acquisition of Hamels, along with Darvish's likely return, put a good perspective on the Rangers depth moves of giving a minor league deal to A.J. Griffin and resigning Colby Lewis. While the back end of the rotation still has yet to sort itself out in light of these moves, the Rangers are primed to have two top-tier aces for the majority of the 2016 season.

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

ZiPs Projections: 149.0 IP, 3.93/3.85 ERA/FIP, 1.9 WAR

Bailey vaulted into the public eye with his 2012 and 2013 no-hitters, even though his year-to-year stats haven't quite matched the level of domination he showed during those two games. ZiPs is bullish on his ability to handle almost a full season of work in his return -- currently slated for mid-May -- and he will be an important, long-term part in the rotation of a team undergoing a serious rebuild. Attention should be paid to whether he can get his strikeout rate back to 2013 levels, as well as reversing the small erosion in control he suffered during the 2014 season.

Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

Steamer Projections: 65.0 IP, 3.69/3.63 ERA/FIP, 1.0 WAR

Wheeler's projections are difficult given the outstanding nature of the Mets' rotation. Currently, given a "June or July return," Wheeler would be battling for the fifth spot with Bartolo Colon, who New York just signed to a one-year deal. However, given that Wheeler is young, cost-controlled, and likely will still have the high-ceiling velocity of a potential ace, he makes (and has already made) an intriguing trade chip. While he could be a very useful swingman or fifth starter for the Mets during the second half of 2016, the embarrassment of riches they currently have at the starting pitcher position make a trade easily imaginable.

Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays

Steamer Projections: 48.0 IP, 3.52/3.53 ERA/FIP, 0.8 WAR

While the Steamer projections are on the low side given the expectation of a midseason return, Cobb is one of the most interesting names on this list. In addition to his name recently cropping up in trade talks with the Cubs, Cobb posted two seasons of at least 140 innings pitched and sub-3.00 ERAs before he was injured, flashing completely un-hittable stuff at times. His changeup ranked as one of the five best among starters by run values during 2014, and if he can avoid the pitfalls of decreased control (something he has had difficulty with already) following surgery, he could pick up right where he left off.

Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers

Steamer Projections: 48.0 IP, 3.20/3.20 ERA/FIP, 0.8 WAR

Given the way this offseason has unfolded so far for the Dodgers, it's not a stretch to say they would welcome a healthy McCarthy back into their threadbare rotation. Coming off his first 200-inning campaign in 2014, it looked like McCarthy might have put his injury history behind him while posting some of the best numbers of his career; his elbow unfortunately had other plans. Still, the right-hander always seems one adjustment away from putting it together. Despite his strong ground ball rates, he's been victimized by home runs over the past few years, and even outstanding gains in his strikeout rate couldn't mask the problem. The Dodgers will be hoping for a repeat of 2014 when McCarthy returns sometime in June or July, because it seems like they might truly need it after missing out on some of the top names in the free agent pitching market.

Finally, there are a couple intriguing relievers who could see a return to the field in 2016 after undergoing surgery last season. The most exciting is Adam Ottavino, who has three different sliders and looked dominant in his short stint as the Rockies' closer during 2015. Greg Holland, who had surgery just this past October, will likely not see the field until 2017 unless his recovery is miraculously short.

While it might be easy to forget about pitchers who have stepped out of the spotlight due to injuries, 2016 hopes to be a banner year for the return of ultra-talented pitchers from serious surgery. With any luck, these starters and relievers will be added to the long list of success stories, primed to pitch again.


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     The article said:

01. "The success rate of Tommy John surgery is now so high that many fans take it for granted when an injury does occur."
02. "Even going so far as to view it as some sort of rite of passage that every young pitcher must go through."
03. "But not everyone makes it back to the mound."
04. "Those that do are more likely to need another Tommy John at some point."
05. "We also know a lot more about how pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery than we used to."
06. "It debunks a lot of previously-held beliefs."

     To recover from Ulnar Collateral Ligament replacement surgery, these surgically-repaired baseball pitchers need to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of the Marshall baseball pitching motion.

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0012.  What is the success rate of shoulder surgery?
Baseball Essential
December 28, 2015

In 2014, when Danny Duffy walked off the mound after throwing just a single pitch, much of Kansas City was holding its breath, awaiting and half expecting what are possibly the most ominous two words in baseball: “elbow pain.” Later that day, the Royals reported that Duffy was dealing with a shoulder problem, and there was a collective sigh of relief among fans. The phrase “at least it wasn’t an elbow injury” was uttered countless times.

This seems to be a common feeling around baseball: the worst possible injury for a pitcher is to the elbow. That’s because any elbow problem is seemingly connected to a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and the dreaded Tommy John surgery. The sentiment that Tommy John surgery is the most damaging surgery for a pitcher is completely wrong, though.

The most widely accepted success rate for Tommy John surgery today is estimated at about 80 percent (or the percentage of players that return to throw at least one pitch in the big leagues following surgery). The fact that about 20 out of every 100 pitchers that suffer a torn UCL never toe the big league rubber again is not a comforting statistic. With that in mind, it’s quite understandable that the words “elbow pain” are terrifying for a baseball fan. However, this number is actually good when compared to another arm injury for a pitcher—the shoulder.

Shoulder pain, not elbow pain, deserves to be the most feared condition in baseball. The success rate for any type of serious shoulder surgery is far lower than that of an elbow injury. While it’s not a death sentence—after all, Danny Duffy survived his shoulder scare—certain shoulder surgeries come close to being career-ending injuries more times than not.

Although elbow injuries deserve their bad reputation, shoulder injuries deserve a worse rap. This is something that is especially important to keep in mind in today’s game, and even this offseason, with three notable pitchers coming off major shoulder injuries. Mike Minor and Henderson Alvarezs, promising young starters for their respective teams, were recently non-tendered, hitting free agency.

Hyun-jin Ryu, who the Dodgers are expecting to be a savior for their weakened starting rotation, is returning from surgery on his labrum. What fans of these three pitchers will be wondering as we approach the 2016 season is, what is the success rate of shoulder surgeries?

Finding the success rate of shoulder surgeries was not an easy task. The relative rarity of specific surgeries—from labral repairs to rotator-cuff surgery—makes it impossible to try to calculate an accurate number. So, it was necessary to widen the accepted injuries to all shoulder surgeries to a pitcher. In addition, given the typical recovery times involved in shoulder surgery, only data from before 2014 could be accepted. As a result, for this exercise only, surgeries from 2010 to 2013, a span of four seasons, will be used. This takes into account the 27 different pitchers listed under MLB transactions for shoulder surgery.

Studies looking into the success rate of Tommy John surgery defined “success” as a pitcher throwing at least one pitch in the major leagues following his surgery. This is a relatively sad definition of success, because a pitcher coming back to throw just one inning of baseball certainly doesn’t feel like success. But, this is the accepted way to define it, so that’s what was used here.

Of the 27 major league pitchers to undergo shoulder surgery from 2010 to 2013, 15 returned to the big leagues. In other words, the success rate of shoulder surgery was 55.5%. To put it lightly, that return rate is pretty awful. It’s approximately a 50/50 chance of a pitcher returning from any type of shoulder surgery to throw another pitch—and that’s not taking into account effectiveness.

After returning from surgery, these 15 pitchers threw 1548 total games and 3976 innings. In other words, these pitchers averaged 91 games following the surgery, and 234 innings. Once again, this is discouraging data. But, it’s challenging to glean any great conclusions from this, given that some of these pitchers were starting pitchers, and some were relief pitchers. To clear these numbers up, I went ahead and calculated the averaged innings for a starter and reliever, separately, following surgery.

A starter undergoing shoulder surgery came back to throw an average of 368 innings, while a reliever threw 116 innings. Obviously, not all of these pitchers have retired, so the numbers aren’t as grim as they appear. Of the 27 pitchers, seven are still pitching. That said, it’s not comforting to see that pitchers at either position averaged about two seasons following shoulder surgery.

What may be more important than how long a pitcher lasted following the injury, though, is his effectiveness. Overall, pitchers averaged a 4.04 ERA before going under the knife. Upon return, this number rose to a 4.28 ERA. That’s not terrible, but at the same time it shows that these pitchers generally showed decreased effectiveness upon returning.

I’m not going to pretend that these numbers are perfect—active pitchers, different severities of shoulder surgery, and age (though the average wasn’t very old—just 28) can skew the results. This data isn’t set in stone, and it has plenty of flaws. But, it’s useful for the purpose of approximating just how serious shoulder surgeries are. It’s worth repeating that of these 27 pitchers, an astounding 12 never pitched in the big leagues again, and another two didn’t throw more than 11 innings after returning. A shoulder surgery is one of the worst things a pitcher can deal with; it’s significantly worse than Tommy John surgery, and there’s not another injury or surgery that is so detrimental to a pitcher.

Applying this to current baseball players isn’t a very optimistic thing to do. Between Hyun-jin Ryu, Mike Minor and Henderson Alvarez, a success rate of 55.5 percent indicates that one of these players won’t ever make it to the big leagues again. This isn’t a guarantee, and obviously I hope that they make it back to their old forms, as all three pitchers were a pleasure to watch while at the top of their game. But, given the nature of shoulder surgeries, it’s tough to envision these pitchers returning to their previous states.

The shoulder injury is a prevalent threat, and it should be replacing the UCL as a pitcher’s, and baseball’s, biggest fear. As technology advances, there is little doubt that pitchers will be able to bounce back from shoulder surgeries more quickly, more frequently, and more effectively. But for now, it is one of the worst things that can happen to a pitcher.


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     The article said:

01. "Shoulder pain, not elbow pain, deserves to be the most feared condition in baseball."
02. "The success rate for any type of serious shoulder surgery is far lower than that of an elbow injury."
03. "While it’s not a death sentence—after all, shoulder surgeries come close to being career-ending injuries more times than not."
04. "Although elbow injuries deserve their bad reputation, shoulder injuries deserve a worse rap."
05. "This is something that is especially important to keep in mind in today’s game."
06. "With three notable pitchers coming off major shoulder injuries. Mike Minor and Henderson Alvarezs, promising young starters for their respective teams, were recently non-tendered, hitting free agency."
07. "Of the 27 major league pitchers to undergo shoulder surgery from 2010 to 2013, 15 returned to the big leagues."
08. "In other words, the success rate of shoulder surgery was 55.5%."
09. "To put it lightly, that return rate is pretty awful."
10. "It’s approximately a 50/50 chance of a pitcher returning from any type of shoulder surgery to throw another pitch—and that’s not taking into account effectiveness."
11. "The shoulder injury is a prevalent threat, and it should be replacing the UCL as a pitcher’s, and baseball’s, biggest fear."
12. "As technology advances, there is little doubt that pitchers will be able to bounce back from shoulder surgeries more quickly, more frequently, and more effectively."
13. "But for now, it is one of the worst things that can happen to a pitcher."

     With my baseball pitching motion, we are able to return 100% of baseball pitchers with shoulder injuries to injury-free pitching with increased release velocity and consistency with the ability to master the wide variety of high-quality pitches that they will need to get the four types of baseball pitchers out.

     The secret is to stop using the Pectoralis Major muscle and start using the Latissimus Dorsi muscle.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, January 10, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0013.  College Baseball Pitcher Keeping Me in the Loop

The ankle has swelled down a lot and was still able to train out of the no stride position.

I should be 100 percent soon.

Thanks for all this information about the horizontal rebound.

I understand it much better now and will work hard to get it down.


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     I thought that the No Glove Foot Step body action would help you learn how to use the heel of your glove foot to pull the entire pitching arm side forward as you rotate your hips and shoulders forward together.

     When you start to rotate your hips and shoulders, you need to make sure to get your pitching arm in 'Slingshot' position so that you are able to drive the baseballs straight toward the center of strike.

     You should also land on the heel of the pitching foot.

     I assume that you are able to do your wrist weight exercises.

     The wrist weights enable you to isolate the 'horizontal rebound' action.

     Start with your pitching elbow pointing behind the pitching arm side batter.

     To initiate the 'horizontal rebound,' you move your pitching upper arm from pointing behind the pitching arm side batter upward to vertical and inward beside your head.

     When the pitching elbow moves toward your head, your pitching wrist, hand and baseball moves away from your head.

     You should repeat this 'horizontal rebound' action with the wrist weights in a set of 12.

     As I have said several times, start with your low intensity and over several days, gradually increase your intensity. After several months, the tendon of your Latissimus Dorsi muscle will able explosively inwardly rotate your pitching upper arm toward home plate ready for your Triceps Brachii muscle to explosively extend your pitching elbow.

     Don't worry about explosively extending your pitching elbow, the Pronator Teres muscle will make sure that your never bang the bones in the back of your pitching elbow.

     Because your contract the Pronator Teres muscle before, during and after the release, you will never injure your pitching elbow.

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0014.  Rockies shouldn't count on De La Rosa to be their ace
BSNDenver.com
December 24, 2015

Jorge De La Rosa has been a solid part of the Colorado Rockies’ rotation for the past eight seasons.

The left-hander has compiled a 78-52 record with a 4.20 earned run average since being traded to Colorado in April 2007. He is the all-time leader in wins for the franchise and also loves pitching at Coors Field where he has a .763 winning percentage. That could be one of the main reasons the Rockies keep him around.

But this is the hard and honest truth, he would never be an ace on any other team. He is the ace on the Rockies by default. Which may be alright for the time being, but the future could become murky with De La Rosa at the top of the rotation.

De La Rosa will turn 35-years-old right around the beginning of the 2016 season. He has struggled with injuries in the past including having Tommy John surgery in early 2011 which caused him to miss most of 2012 as well. He also had a finger problem in 2010.

The lefty was also not ready at the start of 2015 season with a back issue and didn’t make his debut until April 20.

Injuries happen in Major League Baseball, especially to pitchers. Those guys are destined to miss time every season it seems. But teams, and the Rockies in particular, need stability at the top spot of the rotation. It feels Colorado doesn’t have that with De La Rosa.

But his injury history is not the main problem. The mind is the biggest obstacle for De La Rosa. Most fans will remember Opening Day 2014 against the Marlins in Miami. The lefty was having problems with catcher Wilin Rosario. The two got into a shouting match on the mound and the Rockies got pounded 10-1. The lefty didn’t make it out of the fifth inning.

And things like this seem to happen to De La Rosa often. He could be rolling through the first three innings but the start would fall apart because of an error in the field or a bad call by an umpire. The lefty would implode during trying situations.

An example of this was against the San Francisco Giants in 2014. He was matching Giants ace Madison Bumgarner pitch for pitch on April night in San Francisco. But then is fell apart in the fourth inning.

De La Rosa gave up a single, hit by pitch, wild pitch, two walks and then a grand slam to Bumgarner. The Rockies lost 6-5.

There are more examples of these types of things happening throughout his Rockies’ career.

This may read like piling on and nitpicking a guy that the Rockies have counted on in years past and most likely in 2016 as well. It is not the say that De La Rosa is not a good pitcher but his inability to deal with tough situations and to stay healthy doesn’t make him the perfect fit for an ace of a pitching staff.

The lefty can be a frustrating starter. He has strong stuff that can baffle hitters. He also has a tendency to have high pitch counts and a lot of base runners. Yet, somehow he has thrived at altitude. That could be the most baffling thing about De La Rosa.

The veteran will probably hold the Rockies’ win record for quite some time and may end up being one of the best pitchers in Coors Field history. But the Rockies would be better served to have a different ace in the future even if that pitcher has to be homegrown and is years away.

De La Rosa has and will continue to do good things in Colorado but he is not as top of the line as the Rockies view him.


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     The article said:

01. "Jorge De La Rosa has compiled a 78-52 record with a 4.20 earned run average since being traded to Colorado in April 2007."
02. "Mr. De La Rosa is the all-time leader in wins and has a .763 winning percentage at Coors Field."
03. "Mr. De La Rosa's injury history is not the main problem."
04. "The mind is the biggest obstacle for De La Rosa."
05. "Catcher Wilin Rosario and Mr. De La Rosa got into two got into a shouting match on the mound."
06. "Mr. De La Rosa could be rolling through the first three innings, but an error or a bad call would cause Mr. De La Rosa to implode."

     Fire the catcher and when errors/or bad calls happen, the field manager needs to go to the mound and tell Mr. De La Rosa that he needs to take a few deep breaths and show everybody that he is able to work under distractions.

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0015.  Orioles' pitching coach Wallace weighs in on his staff
Baltimore Sun
December 28, 2015

Pitching coach Dave Wallace isn’t available to the media very often. But it’s not that he’s by any means dodging reporters. It’s that most of the time he’s seen working with his pupils, a towel usually draped over his shoulder watching a bullpen session or doing some other preparation with the club’s pitchers.

But Wallace touched on a variety of topics at Orioles FanFest earlier this month, from his take on Chris Tillman's and Miguel Gonzalez's rocky 2015 seasons to the team’s strong bullpen to Kevin Gausman's next step to becoming a front-line starter.

Here’s what Wallace had to say:

On starters Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez getting back to their 2014 form:

"I think its consistency. I think that both guys are probably as disappointed as everybody, but you know what? It always looks worse than it is. There were times last year when things could have gone better. Sometimes the ball didn’t bounce their way, especially Chris. I think Chris was a victim of a lot of [bad] things [happening] during the game – seeing-eye base hits, bloopers falling in. And then it works on you mentally a little bit. You’re looking for the negative and stuff. And Miggy, I think it’s just a matter of being consistent, especially with his fastball and his command. He did have better command his previous two years, and you know, it comes and goes. And as Buck [Showalter] says so many times, the process of becoming a consistent major league starter doesn’t happen in one, two or three years. It takes probably 800 to 1,000 innings, and that’s five or six years."

On how much Gonzalez’s injury affected him in his return:

"I think it did only in hindsight in his mind. At the time, he said, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine,’ but then once we addressed that issue and he came back, he said, ‘You know, I’m glad we took this time off and I got back.’ And I think it was important for Miggy to get back at the end of the season to get in and pitch a couple of innings because he headed into the offseason knowing he was OK."

On Kevin Gausman taking the next step in his maturation:

"Yeah, I think it’s time to just take the kid gloves off of him. Kevin certainly has come on and made strides, both in ’14 and in ’15, but I think now his understanding of the game is so much better and his understanding of himself and what he needs to do. We all stress fastball command, but taking something off, putting something on, secondary pitches in cripple counts, Kevin is ready to take that next step and he knows it."

On Gausman’s improvements in 2015:

"We saw it incrementally, but it wasn’t consistent. And that’s OK. That’s part of the process. I think there were a couple of games, probably in July, where he really used his changeup real well and he’d come in and say, ‘Man, I can’t believe I got away with that one,’ especially in a 2-0, 2-1 count. And then you put something in a hitter’s mind where he’s expecting something else. And another thing is as far as a starting pitcher, especially someone as young as Kevin, when you’re around the league the second, third and fourth time, then it becomes much more difficult. Everyone who faces Kevin Gausman now knows they’re going to get a very good fastball, so now it’s time for him to make some adjustments off that and know what he has to do with it."

On Gausman’s offseason LASIK surgery:

"I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you he’s comfortable with it. And you know these very sensitive starting pitchers. If you’re comfortable with something, then I think automatically you have to become better."

On Dylan Bundy’s future and his health:

"The two, three years I’ve been here, I really haven’t seen Dylan a lot, but I’ve heard a lot of great things. But I think you hit the key word, ‘If he’s healthy.’ I think if he’s healthy, he’s going to help us. Whatever capacity that is, I couldn’t tell you. But certainly given his stuff and his competitiveness, you know that. You can see that, there’s no doubt about it -- as long as he’s OK. And so far, he seems to be OK, talking with him."

On having the back end of the bullpen set going into next season:

"I hope it’s set. But more than anything else, you need depth. You have Zach [Britton], you have Darren [O'Day], you have Brad Brach. You have [Mychal] Givens. You have Brian Matusz and [T.J.] McFarland. But you know what? As you all know, it’s not 13 or 14 pitchers over the course of the season. So you’re always looking for depth, especially if one of our strengths is the bullpen. That’s a conversation that’s going on each and every day. How can we become a little bit better? How can we get more depth if something happens out of the bullpen? So, although it’s good on paper, it’s always a concern for a manager and a pitching coach."

On the importance of adding a left-handed starter:

"Everybody wants a left-handed starter, but I'd rather have a real quality big league starter than to just get any left-handed starter. I think it’s more important to have depth to your starting rotation, and hopefully that’s something that everybody in the front office is working on because it’s going to provide some really important things for us."

On whether Brian Matusz can be successful as a starter:

"I don’t know. I know he has been in the past and I know we stretch him out in spring training with those thoughts sometimes. But you know, he’s had a pretty successful role in getting some left-handers out, so you’re treading on thin ice there where you take a guy out of one of his strengths to put him in this position you’re not sure of. But you know, again, if nothing’s done and we don’t have anybody else, you never know what you’re going to do. You don’t ever leave any stone unturned."

On the entire coaching staff returning:

"I think [there’s] consistency and consistency in the voices they hear, the hard work ethic and understanding of what the expectation is."

On his decision to return in 2016:

"I don’t know if I’ll ever retire, but I did consider doing something different in developing pitchers and spend some time with family and all that. Buck was very understanding with that. Yeah, it’s tough, because you wonder when you get down the road a little bit how long you’re going to do it. But I still love the game. At 7 o’clock, no one has more fun than I do. Some of the stuff leading up to that, it runs hard sometimes, but no, I have a deep appreciation and love and concern for the game, but I also love developing young pitchers."


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     Is Orioles pitching coach, Dave Wallace, a psyco-therapist or a baseball pitching coach?

     Not once did Mr. Wallace talk about the pitches these baseball pitchers throw.

     To me, that means that Mr. Wallace does not know how to teach baseball pitchers how to throw the wide variety of high-quality that baseball pitchers need to get the four types of baseball batters.

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0016.  Cardinal sign former Mets' pitcher Hefner to minor league deal
St. Louis Post Dispatch
December 28, 2015

The Cardinals have signed free agent pitcher Jeremy Hefner to a minor-league contract, and he is expected to attend major-league spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Hefner, 29, hopes to revive a career that was nearly derailed by two Tommy John surgeries since 2013.

The 6-foot-4 righthander made 36 starts (8-15) and had a 4.65 ERA in 224 1/3 innings pitched for the Mets between 2012-13.

The Oklahoma native, a fifth-round draft pick of the Padres in 2007, first had Tommy John surgery in August of 2013, but re-injured himself while rehabbing. The second operation came in October of 2014.

Hefner did not play last season, but pitched for the Gigantes del Cibao during this year’s Dominican Winter League.


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     The article said:

01. "The Cardinals signed free agent pitcher Jeremy Hefner to a minor-league contract."
02. "Mr. Hefner had his first Tommy John surgery in August of 2013."
03. "Then, while rehabbing, Mr. Hefner injured his replacement Ulnar Collateral Ligament."
04. "Mr. Hefner had his second operation in October of 2014."

     To prevent injuring the second replacement Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Hefner needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height toward second base while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0017.  Doctors say young athletes are being worn out
Fresno Bee
December 28, 2015

Elijah Torrez had pitched throughout the school year and Cal Ripken season, and the Mendota, Calif. seventh-grader wanted to play when his travel team made it to a World Series.

Pain in his right arm, however, could scuttle plans to pitch for a championship.

So Elijah didn’t tell his father, Anthony Torrez, how much his arm hurt or the location of the pain on the back side of his arm. His father thought a little rest and some icing of a sore muscle should resolve the problem.

The coach agreed to ease him off the pitching schedule. But this summer, when the team was losing at a World Series game in San Diego, Elijah told the coach a fib: “I’m good,” and he got in the game.

He threw a few pitches before he felt pain and a “pop” near his elbow. In September, Elijah, 14, had surgery at Valley Children’s Hospital. He had pulled bone off ligament on the inside of his elbow. A screw had to be inserted to hold the bone in place. The surgery is similar to a Tommy John elbow ligament repair, normally done on adult baseball players like its namesake.

Anthony Torrez said his son’s surgery “tore me apart.” He should have questioned Elijah more about the soreness in his arm, he said.

Increasingly, doctors are diagnosing overuse injuries – stress fractures, bone separations and strained tendons – in young athletes. The injuries have become common enough for researchers to be studying their occurrence, and they suspect more happen than get reported. Sports and medical experts don’t see the trend reversing anytime soon.

Dr. Kerry Loveland, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Valley Children’s Hospital, is seeing more sports-related injuries in young athletes in the central San Joaquin Valley.

He attributes the increase in overuse injuries to several factors.

“Just the sheer number of kids who play sports is up,” he said. It’s difficult to get an exact number of student athletes, but it’s safe to say tens of thousands of school-age children in the Valley are participating in organized sports.

Fresno is a competitive-sports town, which adds to the pressure on young athletes to specialize in one sport from an early age, Loveland said. The Valley weather contributes, allowing outdoor sports, such as baseball and soccer, to be played year-round without having a season to rest.

It’s common for elite young players in the Valley to play softball, baseball, soccer or volleyball on school teams, continue on summer school teams and play on outside-of-school club teams. Children as young as 8 can be in competitive play year-round or nearly year-round.

Loveland said he sees the effects of young athletes doing too much, too often. “Everybody needs an off-season from their sport.”

Value of early specialization questioned

The American Medical Society for Sport Medicine agrees.

In a position statement issued in January 2014 in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, the society recommended young athletes have scheduled rest periods, limits on weekly and yearly participation time and limits on sport-specific repetitive movements, such as pitch counts.

Dr. Holly Benjamin, one of the authors of the position paper, said doctors don’t want to discourage children from being active year-round. Involvement in athletics is healthy, and being a part of a team also can build self-esteem. The issue, she said: “We’re concerned about the sports specialization and the year-round training in a single sport.”

Benjamin, professor of pediatrics and orthopedic surgery at the University of Chicago, equates the stresses from repetitive sports movements to “mileage on the body.”

Researchers have found that the more hours a week youths participate in a sport appears to increase the risk of them getting hurt, said Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, who also was an author on the society’s position paper on overuse injuries.

While specialization may be necessary from an early age for certain sports, such as gymnastics, figure skating and swimming/diving, sport medicine doctors said there is growing concern about negative effects of early specialization, including the risk of injury and of burnout.

Doctors said determining the extent of burnout is difficult, but one study cited in the position paper found 30-35 percent of adolescent athletes had experienced it.

Studies also suggest that specializing in a single sport increases the risk of injuries, said Jayanthi, who is an associate professor of orthopedics at Emory University and director of tennis medicine at the school’s sports medicine center.

At the same time, the supposed benefits of early sport specialization in developing athletic prowess also are coming under scrutiny.

Early specialization may not have the desired effect of guaranteeing success in a sport, Benjamin said. “Late specialization may have a better likelihood of leading to elite status,” she said. For example, a study of players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine – where college football players have an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to coaches and scouts – found 87 percent had played more than one sport at younger ages.

The lure of college athletic scholarships and lucrative professional sports careers drives young athletes into specialization, said those who see injured young athletes.

And training young athletes has become a money-making business, too.

“It’s all financially driven. It’s no question,” said Richard Lembo, director of sports medicine at Sierra Pacific Orthopedics in Fresno.

He can’t place a number on how many injured young athletes he’s seen at his office, but “I know I’m seeing them younger than I did 10 years ago,” Lembo said. For example, girls begin playing volleyball in fourth grade and continue playing into high school. By their freshman year, they have chronic back pain, he said.

Terance Frazier, owner of Central Cal Baseball Academy, said parents worry their children will miss out on a scholarship if they don’t play a sport year-round. “Some coaches, in my opinion, are feeding off of that,” he said.

No guarantee of scholarships

Playing year-round does not guarantee a free ride through college, Frazier said, but a parent will spend thousands of dollars on trainers, special coaches and club teams in an effort to get an athletic scholarship. With the money spent on camps and training “you can send your kid to college without a scholarship,” he said.

It’s unfortunate that so many parents are chasing the scholarship dream, said Roger Blake, executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation. The CIF is the governing body for high school sports in the state. “Too many people are being sold a bill of goods about the magic scholarship pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” he said. “Only 1.8 percent of high school athletes get a scholarship to go to another level.”

Ron Murray, 43, who operates Clovis Jets, a track and field club, said he understands the importance of college scholarships. He earned an athletic scholarship at Fresno State, which gave him an educational opportunity, but he’s concerned about children specializing in a sport too early.

Children no longer ride bicycles and climb trees and balance on brick walls – physical activities he did as a child that improved his strength and coordination, he said. “I’m not saying we were better athletes, but we didn’t get hurt like these kids get hurt.”

Murray supported a decision last year by Joann Barry, a Clovis mother, to suspend her son, Nathaniel Barry, a sprinter, from running for the club and at school. Nathaniel, 15, grew about two inches in about a year. He’s now 6 feet 2 inches. A growth spurt can increase the risk of injury in children.

Nathaniel had complained of knee pain, Barry said. A physical therapist at Valley Children’s Hospital suggested he needed a break from running to help him heal.

Nathaniel, now a sophomore, continues to play basketball. He’s on the Clovis High varsity team. Barry said she’s involved Nathaniel in the decisions she’s made. Nathaniel excels in both track and basketball but prefers basketball, so she let him keep playing.

But Barry said she is watchful for any sign of injury. “I’m now cautious about how much pressure is put on his knees.”

The CIF Sports Medical Advisory Committee shares the concerns of doctors who are seeing more young athletes with overuse injuries, Blake said. In 2012 the CIF reduced the allowed hours for athletic practice to 18 a week. Prior to that, coaches would have players practicing three to five hours a day, he said.

Blake expects recommendations in the next few years that will set pitching limits for high school baseball and softball players. “It’s coming. We just don’t know when it is yet.” The CIF also could define the age at which a pitcher can throw a curve ball, he said. Pitching a curve ball can be particularly hard on the arm.

Little League currently has guidelines for how many pitches can be thrown by one player in a game. According to the organization’s Pitch Smart's website, an 8-year-old, for example, should not have more than a daily maximum of 50 pitches. A 12-year-old can pitch 85.

Anthony Torrez said he coached his son quite a lot when he was younger, and his pitches were kept within the Cal Ripken guidelines.

“I didn’t really think he was overusing his arm because of the amount of innings he pitched,” Torrez said. He now believes his son strained his arm when he began playing on his Mendota Junior High team. He had to throw 60 feet as a school pitcher. In Cal Ripken he threw only 46 feet. “The 60 feet probably wore him out, being 12 years old,” he said.

Lembo said schools are paying attention to overuse injuries. He oversees the athletic trainers at the five Clovis Unified high schools, and most school districts of any size in the Valley have athletic trainers for high school athletes, he said.

But he’s convinced trainers and coaches can’t break the cycle of early specialization in a sport and year-round competition. That has to involve parents, who he said could get a wake-up call from the increasing costs of medical care. “It’s expensive to take your child to the doctor, to an orthopedic surgeon, or whatever it may be.”

Allen Co, a physical therapist at Valley Children’s, said coaches do play a big role: “They need to understand their players,” he said. “They have to be an advocate for their health and safety, even though the kids will really want to play.” Parents need to be educated for signs of injury in their children – a limp, a favored knee, swelling – because too often, children will not speak up, Co said.

Torrez said he realizes his mistake with Elijah: “As a parent, I should have done more investigating of what was going on with his arm.”

As for Elijah, he’s learned something too. “Next time, I’ll tell them that it hurts.”


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     The article said:

01. "Elijah didn’t tell his father how much his arm hurt or the location of the pain on the back side of his arm."
02. "His father thought a little rest and some icing of a sore muscle should resolve the problem."
03. "When the team was losing at a World Series game, Elijah told the coach that he was good to get back in the game."

04. "Elijah threw a few pitches before he felt pain and a “pop” near his elbow."
05. "Elijah, 14, pulled bone off ligament on the inside of his elbow."

     The pain in the back of Elijah's pitching elbow resulted from banging the olecranon process into its olecranon fossa.

     The injury on the inside of Elijah's pitching elbow was the the medial epicondyle's growth plate pulling away from the medial epicondyle ossification center.

     Baseball pitchers of all ages suffer pitching arm injuries because of mis-use, not over-use.

     Until youth baseball pitchers master my baseball pitching motion and the basic pitches that I teach and the growth plates at the elbow end of the Humurus bone completely mature, i.e.; biologically thirteen years old, youth baseball pitchers should not pitch competitively.

     When youth baseball pitchers have these skills, they should pitch once and twice through the line-up per week for two consecutive months until the all growth plates in the pitching elbow of youth baseball pitchers have completely matured, i.e.; biological sixteen years old.

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0018.  Wagner's HOF case based on more than saves
MLB.com
December 29, 2015

Billy Wagner has taken a slight backseat to Trevor Hoffman in this year's Hall of Fame discussion, but given what Wagner did during his 16 years in the big leagues, there is room for debate that the spotlight throughout the voting season has been focused on the wrong guy.

Maybe "wrong" is too strong a word. After all, Wagner, Hoffman and the third closer on the ballot -- Lee Smith, who's back for a 14th try -- have all done plenty to merit consideration. But when the topic of relievers comes up, Hoffman is always mentioned first, as the most likely of the three to gain entry in 2016.

This really is for one main reason: saves. Hoffman has 601 of them, second most in history and 179 ahead of Wagner's 422, fifth-highest.

While there never was a magic number for closers to guarantee entry to the Hall -- to date, only five closers have been elected -- it's been widely assumed in general circles that Hoffman's total in that lone category is enough to push him through.

And it may be. But there is an argument to be made that Wagner might just be the best closer on the ballot. It depends on the voters' criteria, which, thanks to modern-day metrics, largely debunk the importance of the more traditional stats -- especially saves.

This isn't some outside-the-box thinking. The save, while useful, is also understood to be flawed -- and not just among numbers-minded analysts. It's pretty much a universal theory.

"The numbers that stand out to me are not just saves," Wagner said the day the ballot was announced. "It's the big numbers: ERA, strikeouts, batting average against. How do they show dominance? Those are dominant numbers. Saves are just tied along with it."

And that's one of the main reasons why Hall of Fame voting in this particular area has become so murky.

The main knock on Wagner is his innings pitched -- 903, the lowest among all elite closers in history by a significant margin. In fact, no reliever has ever been elected to the Hall with fewer than 1,000 career innings pitched.

But what made Wagner so elite is what he did while pitching those 903 innings.

He had more strikeouts than either of his two contemporaries. His 1,196 K's are just a tick better than Mariano Rivera's 1,173 (Rivera also pitched three more years than Wagner). Hoffman, who pitched four years longer than Wagner, had 1,133 strikeouts.

Wagner's career ERA is 2.31, second-lowest to only Rivera (2.21) among pitchers with that many innings from 1920 to present. Dating back to 1900, Wagner has the highest strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio (11.92) among pitchers with at least 900 innings.

Wagner's WHIP of 1.00 is tied with Eckersley for the lowest among all elite closers, including the other two on the ballot, Hoffman and Smith.

Plenty of evidence exists to support the theory that Wagner was a far more dominant closer than Hoffman, but while Wagner acknowledges that saves don't tell the whole story, they're still a big part of it. And when it comes to Hoffman, Wagner has few doubts about where he fits into history.

"It's hard to believe he isn't looked at as a shoo-in as a Hall of Famer, with 600 saves," Wagner said. "His numbers alone speak volumes. I think he has an 88, 89 save percentage. He had a different way of how he dominated a team."

Wagner has a point. While Wagner blew hitters away with a 100-mph fastball, Hoffman earned his paychecks by confusing them with a changeup that hitters could not decipher. In addition to saves, Hoffman also has longevity as an ally, something Hall voters will have to take into account as they weigh his candidacy. He pitched 18 years and lasted until age 42. That goes a long way in Hall consideration.

For Wagner, his philosophy about the importance of closers is simple: take them out of the equation and see how good your team is without them.

"There's only a few people that have demonstrated that they can go out there night in and night out and handle the stress of getting the last three outs," Wagner said. "Doing it on a nightly basis and having the longevity to prove it counts for a lot."


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     Major league baseball pitcher, Billy Wagner, said:

01. "There's only a few people that have demonstrated that they can go out there night in and night out and handle the stress of getting the last three outs."
02. "Doing it on a nightly basis and having the longevity to prove it counts for a lot."

     Mr. Wagner said that he went out night in and night out.

     These one inning wonders never pitched night in and night out.

     How would they perform if they pitched two innings in two of every three games for the full season?

     When these one inning wonders pitched their 70 to 80 innings per season, what would their records look like if they tried to pitch 208 innings in 106 games?

     These one inning wonders are not baseball pitchers.

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0019.  Dodgers sign Kazmir to three-year, $48 million contract
Orange County Register
December 30, 2015

LOS ANGELES, CA: The Dodgers announced the signing of left-hander Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal Wednesday, adding the first sizable piece of the offseason to their suddenly southpaw-heavy rotation.

Kazmir’s deal is worth $48 million and contains an opt-out clause after one season, enabling him to become a free agent again at this time next year. Because he was traded midseason in 2015, he was ineligible for a qualifying offer and thus did not cost the Dodgers the first-round pick required of many other options this offseason.

If he does opt out next year, the Dodgers would be able to extend him a qualifying offer and recoup a pick in the event he departs.

Earlier this month, the Dodgers had agreed to a three-year contract worth $45 million with veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, another player not attached to a pick. But that agreement went awry when Iwakuma took a physical examination in Los Angeles that reportedly uncovered issues in his arm. Iwakuma quickly agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Mariners.

Kazmir, 32 next month, did not appear a serious consideration to return to either of his 2015 teams, the A’s or Astros.

He has reinvented himself in recent seasons. He debuted in the majors in 2004 as a 20-year-old hotshot for the Rays and starred for five years before losing his way – and his velocity. He started 35 games for the Angels from 2009-11 before resorting to independent-league baseball in 2012. Cleveland took a chance on him that winter, and he was a surprise success story, changing his approach to pitching to rely on a new, dominant changeup.

He worked 183 innings in 2015 for Oakland and Houston, going 7-11, posting a 3.10 ERA and striking out 155 against 59 walks. Since his 2013 return to the majors, Kazmir has recorded a 3.54 ERA over 92 starts. He has never pitched in the National League.

Kazmir figures to slot in behind ace Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, joining fellow left-handers Alex Wood and Brett Anderson, and, perhaps at some point, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is slated to return around midseason.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi had each employed Kazmir in the past, with Tampa Bay and Oakland.

“Both Andrew and myself have some familiarity and history with him,” Zaidi said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “Having another established starting pitcher to add to our squad made a lot of sense.”

Zaidi acknowledged he once thought Kazmir’s career was over. He said it would’ve been hard to watch him in 2009, when his ERA approached 6.00 as an Angel, and not think that way.

But that’s in the distant past now. Kazmir has never had arm surgery.

Zaidi said the organization does not see much of a problem presented by a lefty-heavy rotation, but added that bullpen balance would be important. The Dodgers could yet add another starting pitcher, probably of the opposite throwing hand. They have been linked to Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, who visited Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium earlier this month.

Zaidi would not comment on Maeda on Wednesday. The 27-year-old Nippon Professional Baseball star is generally considered a mid-rotation possibility if he makes the switch to MLB.

“Adding more certainty to the rotation is an option for us over the next couple months,” Zaidi said. “There are still some interesting Asian arms available.”

Zaidi also offered, for the first time, a comment on the Dodgers’ pursuit of Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman. They agreed “in principle” to a trade for him earlier this month, and then backed out when it was revealed Chapman was being investigated for allegedly choking and pushing his girlfriend against a wall and then firing eight gunshots into his garage.

This week, the Reds agreed to trade Chapman to the Yankees. Zaidi said the Dodgers were not comfortable acquiring Chapman considering the circumstances.

“We moved on,” he said.


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     The article said:

01. "The Dodgers signed Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal for $48 million dollars."
02. "In recent seasons, Mr. Kazmir reinvented himself."
03. "Mr. Kazmir debuted in the majors in 2004 as a 20-year-old hotshot for the Rays."
04. "Mr. Kazmir starred for five years."
05. "Mr. Kazmir losed his way and his velocity."
06. "Mr. Kazmir started 35 games for the Angels from 2009-11 before resorting to independent-league baseball in 2012."
07. "Cleveland took a chance on him."
08. "Mr. Kazmir was a surprise success story."
09. "Mr. Kazmir changed his approach to rely on a new, dominant changeup."

     At 31 years old, Mr. Kazmir turned his life around.

     Congratulations.

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0020.  Thank You!

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the information that you have provided on your web page.  It is filled with excellent information.

I have a 13 year old son that pitches for his middle school team and plays local rec. ball.  He is one of the smaller kids in the league (110 lbs.) but is one of the hardest throwers.  I didn’t know why he could throw so hard compared to the bigger kids, so I decided to do some research to see if I could find the answer.

The information available on the web is unbelievable (the majority of it is bad, very little of it is beneficial).  Sites promoting velocity gain via Olympic weight training, extreme long tossing (300 ft.,), momentum pitching, hip to shoulder separation, etc.  guaranteeing velocity gains if you purchase their training programs and/or gadgets.  What didn’t make sense was my son doesn’t lift weights and can’t throw a baseball 300 ft. but he could throw a baseball faster than most the kids that are bigger than him.

What I did learn was the importance of slow motion video taping. So I taped my son’s pitching motion and evaluated it frame by frame.

My son always had a very short arm path (not knowing why at the time) and he keeps his throwing arm up around his chest once he goes into hand separation.

At front foot strike, his throwing arm is cocked and ready to throw.

He then starts to rotate his shoulder and elbow upward over his head while his forearm lays back until his elbow gets to the apex (actually above his head since he lowers his other shoulder).

Then his forearm is activated by catapulting the baseball towards home plate.  Very fast and without much effort!

Trying to understand how all this work, I came across the video lecture that you had on your website.

What I determined was that my son was actually utilizing the mechanics you promote.

Per your quote: ”To be injury-free and more powerful, baseball pitchers have to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders over their glove foot”.

This is exactly what my son is doing!

Could I take credit for teaching him to have an arm action like that?

Absolutely not, but what I did tell him from the first days we started to toss ball when he was around 4 years old was to “throw over the top”, not knowing that he would develop the arm path that you discuss on your web page.

So again, I just want to say Thank You for providing this information to the public.

It is amazing how few pitchers (amateurs and professional) utilize this arm motion.

Your web site has clearly informed me as to why my son can throw like he does.


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     "Turning the back of the pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotating the hips and shoulders forward together over the glove foot," teaches baseball pitchers to use their Latissimus Dorsi muscle instead of the Pectoralis muscle.

     Turning the pitching upper arm to face toward home plate prevents injuries to the pitching shoulder.

     Rotating the hips and shoulders forward together over the glove foot prevents pitching knee injuries, Oblique Internus Abdominis injuries and lower back injuries and increases release velocity and consistency.

     To prevent injuries to the pitching elbow, baseball pitchers need to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     Five muscles arise from the medial epicondyle.

     When these five muscles contract, they hold the Ulna bone (one of the two forearm bones) tightly against the Humerus (the bone of the pitching upper arm). This eliminates injuries to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     To safely throw curve balls, baseball pitchers have to powerfully contract the Pronator Teres muscle.

     To teach baseball pitchers of all ages how to throw safe curve balls, I have baseball pitchers 'horizontally sail' the square lid off a four-gallon bucket and appropriately-sized footballs.

     In Section 8: Football Training Program of my Baseball Pitching Instructional Video teaches baseball pitchers how to use the Lid to learn how to 'horizontally sail' the Lid.

     When baseball pitchers 'horizontally sail' the Lid, they are pronating the releases of their curve balls.

     Only baseball pitchers that turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot are able to throw injury-free curve balls.

     I teach my baseball pitchers to drive the Ring finger side of the Middle finger through the top of the baseball such that my baseball pitchers turn their pitching thumb to point downward.

     When baseball pitchers turn their pitching thumb to point downward, they are pronating the release of their curve ball.

     'Traditional' baseball pitching coaches teach their baseball pitchers to spin the baseball over the top of their Index finger such that 'traditional' baseball pitchers turn their pitching thumb to point upward.

     When baseball pitchers turn their pitching thumb to point upward, they are supinating the release of their curve ball.

     When my baseball pitchers turning their pitching thumb to point downward, in addition to the Pronator Teres muscle turning the pitching thumb to point downward, the Pronator Teres muscle flexes the elbow joint such that my baseball pitchers prevent the bones in the back of their pitching elbow from banging together.

     Preventing the bones in the back of the pitching elbow from banging together prevent my baseball pitchers from having bone chips, bone spurs and the ability to fully straighten their pitching elbow.

     'Traditional' baseball pitchers teach baseball pitchers to release their curve balls over the top of their Index finger. To release curve balls over the top of the Index finger, baseball pitchers have to turn the pitching thumb to point upward.

     When 'traditional' baseball pitchers supinate the release of their curve balls, they bang the bones in the back of their pitching elbow and have bone chips, bone spurs and not able to fully extend their pitching elbow.

     In short, I want your son to start 'horizontally sailing' the Lid and using the appropriately-sized football to learn how to properly rotate the four pitches youth baseball pitchers need.

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0021.  Numbers show all-lefty rotation can work
MLB.com
January 04, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- In the wake of another uninspiring postseason by their beloved baseball team, the natives of the nation's second largest city have been restless this winter.

Snuffed by the Mets in the 2015 National League Division Series, the Dodgers have not been as active as their primary division rivals. What they have done -- assembling a potential all-southpaw rotation -- has not appeased the fan base.

Zack Greinke's free-agent move to Arizona, joining Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin, was a jolt. The Giants upgrading with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in support of Madison Bumgarner was another blow.

Four right-handed starters of high quality having enriched their rivals. The Dodgers' response is an all-lefty rotation with one unproven righty, Japanese import Kenta Maeda, reportedly joining after a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma fell through.

Brandon McCarthy, recovering from Tommy John surgery, could join the rotation midseason, likely after the 2016 All-Star Game, and would add another righty to the mix.

If Hyun-Jin Ryu recovers from the left shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2015 season, the Dodgers could eclipse the record held by the 1983 Yankees of 127 games started by lefties, according to STATS Inc. Only the 1951 Red Sox had five lefties making 16 or more starts.

Dodgers fans are aware of the damage that can be done by a division featuring such righty sluggers as Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock in Arizona and Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in San Francisco. The Rockies, D-backs and Giants ranked first, second and fifth, respectively, in NL runs scored last season. The Dodgers were eighth.

Digging past the surface, it is not a case of what the Dodgers are thinking as much as how they're thinking: out of the box. Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Ryu and Alex Wood all have enjoyed success tying up right-handed hitters.

If opponents load up with right-handed lineups against the Dodgers' wave of lefties, they might be playing right into the hands of new manager Dave Roberts and his arms. Let's examine the numbers.

1. Kershaw

Universally regarded as the game's best the past five seasons, Kershaw has been equally cruel to men occupying both sides of the batter's box.

Right-handed swingers had a .192/.239/.272 slash line against Kershaw last season; lefties came in at .203/.231/.323. In 2014, righties were .197/.233/.298, lefties .193/.225/.252 against the Lone Star superstar.

Finishing 2015 with 301 strikeouts in 232 2/3 innings, MLB highs in both categories, Kershaw fanned 33 percent of righties he faced and 39 percent of lefties. His killer curveball and slider are equal-opportunity weapons.

2. Kazmir

Kazmir, who turns 32 this month, had a remarkable career rebirth that brought him a three-year, $48 million free-agent contract -- the lottery in real life but nothing close to the deals Greinke, Cueto and Samardzija drew in the open market.

A power pitcher in his youth, leading the American League in strikeouts in 2007 for the Rays, Kazmir has made a transformation, calling to mind Frank Tanana in the 1970s. That 97-mph fastball and wicked slider have been replaced by 91-mph heat and a deep bag of pitches featuring a wicked changeup.

Kazmir's splits belong to a traditional right-hander. Last season, with the A's and his hometown Astros, he held righties to .225/.301/.344, vs. .272/.312/.462 by lefties. In 2014, it was .227/.280/.360 by righties, .273/.326/.347 by lefties. The changeup is the great equalizer.

Working in the third-most friendly pitchers' park in the NL should suit Kazmir fine. Bring on those right-handed bats.

3. Anderson

Finally avoiding injuries and working a full season, Anderson, 27, was solid behind Kershaw and Greinke, delivering 180 1/3 innings in 31 starts.

Featuring a biting slider that has been his signature pitch, Anderson was neutral in his 2015 splits. Righties came in at .276/.319/.418, lefties at .284/.335/.363. The one blip: 17 of the 18 homers he allowed were by righties.

In eight 2014 outings with the Rockies, Anderson shut down righties: .244/.305/.370. Lefties went .326/.354/.370.

4. Ryu

With Maeda as a safety net, Ryu will try to rebound to his form in his first two seasons, when he was a combined 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA. A Korean Kazmir, he has a 91-mph fastball, slider, curve and deadly change.

In 2014, Ryu limited right-handed hitters to a .249/.290/.366 slash line. Lefties were .283/.310/.355. As a '13 rookie, the splits were even more pronounced: .245/.291/.342 for righties, .270/.322/.416 for lefties. As with Kazmir, the message is: "Go ahead and load up on right-handed bats."

5. Wood

Making 12 starts with the Dodgers after 20 with the Braves, Wood scuffled against right-handed hitters in going 12-12 with a 3.84 ERA. They banged him to the tune of .292/.359/.429, as opposed to .223/.243/.274 by lefties.

Studying 2014, a different Wood emerges. Righties were .236/.290/.355 against him, lefties .247/.306/.361. Wood's changeup figures to improve as he observes two of the best with that delivery, Kazmir and Ryu.

Numbers rarely tell the whole truth. But in this case, they paint a picture that might offer a small measure of comfort for Dodgers faithful pining for their first World Series title since 1988.


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     The only way that left or right-handed batters are able to succeed against glove arm side batters is to have a fastball and reverse breaking balls (sinkers and screwballs) that move away from the batter.

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0022.  Verlander hanging around the gym this winter
MLB.com
January 04, 2016

It appears Justin Verlander has turned his offseason workout program on end, at least for a day.

With the new year arrived and Spring Training six weeks away, Verlander got into the workout photo trend Monday with his first such Instagram of the winter. But the photo had nothing to do with a bat or a ball:

Just hangin' out

Verlander has been a noted workout fiend ever since he broke into the big leagues for good in 2006. He also has been meticulous about his workouts, taking note of how he feels physically as each season goes on and then adjusting his offseason program to address changes. Part of that comes from his parents, who used the daily routine to channel his energy in school.

"As you know, I'm a creature of habit," Verlander said near season's end, "so I'll stick with my routine."

Verlander's attention to detail helped him harness his ability and become not only one of baseball's most dominant pitchers, but one of the game's most durable arms, throwing in the upper 90s well past his 100th pitch of an outing. Still, as Verlander ages -- he'll turn 33 next month -- he also has new challenges as he strives to get back to the form that won him an American League MVP Award and Cy Young honors in 2011.

With no health issues, Verlander has been able to focus his workouts on strengthening and improving. And after just 133 1/3 innings last year between an season-opening DL stint and an early end to the season with no postseason play, Verlander hasn't had to worry about the workload on his arm.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Until Mr. Verlander learns to pronate the releases of his breaking pitches, Mr. Verlander will not get back to the form that won him an American League MVP Award and Cy Young honors in 2011.

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0023.  Ensberg set for role as Astros' Minors' mindset coach
MLB.com
January 04, 2016

HOUSTON -- Morgan Ensberg was one of the more analytical minds in the game when he was playing for the Astros from 2000-07. Of course, that was long before analytics as we know them now were as big a part of the game, so you could say Ensberg was ahead of his time.

He learned to be a thinker in the game from his grandfather, who helped him notice tendencies while he was in junior high. From there, it was USC coach Mike Gillespie who helped Ensberg take his analytical baseball mind to another level in college.

Perhaps that's what makes the retired former team Most Valuable Player the perfect person to become the Astros' first Minor League mindset coach. It was a position created this offseason, and it puts Ensberg in the role of traveling around the system to make sure everyone is on the same page from a philosophical standpoint.

"It's difficult to describe in terms of labeling it," Ensberg said. "It's difficult to define what I do. I've always been a guy that has had empathy for the players and managers, and I realize that obviously so much data-driven information is being used, and so we're putting players in situations that they don't feel comfortable. Baseball is so hard, and to ask a player to do something that's even more difficult than what they're used to adds even another level of anxiety. I'm there to kind of mentor them and be there for them as they go through these scary times."

Ensberg, 40, played seven of his eight big league seasons with the Astros, who drafted him out of USC. In 2005, the year the Astros won the National League pennant, Ensberg hit .283 with 36 homers and 101 RBIs and was named team MVP. He got off to a torrid start in '06, but was soon struggling at the plate and was out of baseball shortly after.

He spent the last two seasons as a Minor League special assignment coach after beginning his coaching career as the infield coach at Class A Lancaster in 2013.

With analytics and defensive shifts such a huge part of baseball, and the Astros especially, Ensberg's job will be to make sure the players understand why the organization is asking them to do what they're being asked to do. Some players might be dealing with the infield shift for the first time, and Ensberg will calm their fears about playing out of position, as well as generally help them deal with success and struggles.

"We have to understand, we're asking players to do something that they've never done before at a level they've never played at before with players that are way better across the board than they've faced before," he said. "It's just hard. And so, players want to go back to what's comfortable, but I guess I'm there to help kind of guide them to continue on a certain path that's going to help them be successful at the Major League level and that they shouldn't worry about short-term success, that we're preparing them to be great players in the big leagues. Not average players. "

Ensberg says it's all about supporting the players and doing everything the organization can from an analytical side to figure out the best way to teach them the game. But, he warns, he's not a psychologist.

"It's something the players, coaches and managers can trust that will stick with them when things go bad," he said.

And Ensberg admits he could have used a mindset coach when he played. It was sink or swim.

"I always ended up being that guy for other guys, and it's really because I care," he said. "I don't like that players feel anxiety. It's scary, and I try not to talk about it too much, but it's a very scary deal. People don't want to hear it. They want to say, 'Look, you're making billions of dollars.' And it's true. We're very fortunate when it comes to money, but make no mistake about it -- those guys out there are scared to death. They're staring at the ceiling, and I want to help them at least get through parts of that."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Astros Analytic, Morgan Ensberg, said:

01. "I always ended up being that guy for other guys and it's really because I care."
02. "I don't like that players feel anxiety."
03. "It's scary."
04. "I try not to talk about it too much."
05. "But, it's a very scary deal."
06. "People don't want to hear it."
07. "They want to say, 'Look, you're making billions of dollars.'"
08. "And it's true."
09. "We're very fortunate when it comes to money."
10. "But make no mistake about it, those guys out there are scared to death."
11. "They're staring at the ceiling."
12. "I want to help them at least get through parts of that."

     Instead of talking about anxiety, the baseball pitchers need someone to teach them how to throw the wide variety of high-quality pitches that the four types of baseball batters are not able to hit.

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0024.  Cardinals 2016 starting pitcher injury chances
SB Nation
January 05, 2016

Over the last few seasons, quality has not been a question mark for Cardinals starting pitching. When the Cardinals' top pitchers have pitched, they have delivered excellent results. Quantity has been the concern. In rotations filled with young players with innings limits or questions and veterans filled with injury histories, getting enough innings out of the starters was a big need. Heading into this season, the Cardinals will continue to have those questions, even with the signing of Mike Leake. Injuries can be random, but we can look at the Cardinals pitchers and determine the chances that any one of them will hit the disabled list this season.

Last year, before the season started, the Cardinals had multiple players they could count on for innings. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and John Lackey had consistently provided innings over the previous few seasons. Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez were likely on innings caps that could limit them as the season wore on, and Jaime Garcia could not be counted on for any innings given his complicated injury history.

Even after Wainwright went down, the Cardinals found both the quantity and quality of innings needed to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, Lance Lynn was pitching through an injury that would require Tommy John surgery, Carlos Martinez had a season-ending shoulder strain that would not have been season-ending had it occurred in June, Michael Wacha appeared to wear down near the end of the season, and the Cardinals' great regular season rotation was not the same in the playoffs.

Jeff Zimmerman at FanGraphs has done research to try and determine the chances of a pitcher going on the disabled list. He looked at pitchers who made 20 starts and pitched 120 innings the previous season, and came up with a formula to determine a player's chances of hitting the disabled list. I used Zimmerman's numbers last season to discuss the rotation's chance of injury. The main factors in Zimmerman's formula are:

The get the values, I used the same trustworthy formula I created a few years back which looks at three items:

1. Age: The older the pitcher, the more the injury risk (+1% point increase each year older)
2. Injury history: Nothing predicts future injury like past injuries (+10% points for each season of the past three on the DL).
3. Games Started: A pitcher needs to show they can throw for an entire season without breaking down (-3% points for each full season up to three).

Predicting injuries is a somewhat ridiculous task given how injury prone all pitchers are regardless of age, body-size, and mechanics, but we can acknowledge that the factors listed above do have an effect on a pitcher's chances for the disabled list given the study that Zimmerman has performed. As an example, this is what I wrote about Wainwright last season:

Wainwright is someone fans are incredibly worried about. He did not actually miss time last season, but very easily could have given his struggles. Offseason surgery does little to alleviate those concerns.

Zimmerman also discussed a few other risk factors with injuries.

In his chart, if a pitcher threw the curve more than 25%, the slider more than 30%, threw under 60% of pitches for strikes, or the Pitchf/x zone percentage was less than 47%, Zimmerman noted those possibilities as further risk factors.

Wainwright had no problem pitching in the strike zone, but he does use his curve quite a bit. Wainwright throws his curve more than 25% and was at 25.6% last season per Brooks Baseball.

Wainwright did hit the disabled list, but it had nothing to do with his arm, as he hurt his Achilles running out of the batter's box.

Right around 40% of starting pitchers will hit the disabled list at some point in the season.

In revisiting last year's numbers, the chart below shows the Cardinals' numbers at the beginning of the season and if they hit the disabled list last year.

--------------------------------------------------
| # |Pitcher          | DL% in 2015 | DL in 2015 |
--------------------------------------------------
|01.|John Lackey      |    55.3     |     No     |
|02.|Jaime Garcia     |    53.1     |    Yes     |
|03.|Adam Wainwright  |    37.0     |    Yes     |
|04.|Michael Wacha    |    35.3     |     No     |
|05.|Lance Lynn       |    31.5     |    Yes     |
|06.|Carlos Martinez  |    30.2     |    Yes     |
--------------------------------------------------
The Cardinals had two players who were 50/50 and had one hit the disabled list while the other remained intact. They then had four pitchers with a one-in-three chance of getting hurt, but three out of four pitchers hit the disabled list, and Michael Wacha was not looking strong near the end of the season. The Cardinals were very lucky to get the performances they did last season, but were unlucky when it came to pitcher health.

As for this year, Jeff Zimmerman has again run the numbers on pitchers using his formula.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| # |Pitcher          | Age | GS '13-'15 | DL '13-'15 | DL Chance | Other Risks |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|01.|Jaime Garcia     | 29  |     36     |     03     |   54.4%   |     NA      |
|02.|Adam Wainwright  | 34  |     70     |     01     |   46.3%   |  Curveball  |
|03.|Carlos Martinez  | 24  |     37     |     01     |   37.2%   |     NA      |
|04.|Mike Leake       | 28  |     94     |     01     |   36.6%   |     NA      |
|05.|Michael Wacha    | 25  |     58     |     01     |   36.4%   |     NA      |
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Garcia is not going to be able escape his multiple risk factors despite a solid 2015 season.

Wainwright has age, his disabled list stint last season, and a lower number of starts elevating his risk while Martinez, Wacha, and Leak all remain fairly low despite concerns regarding the first two.

The Cardinals will likely have to use more than the five starters above.

There is only a six percent chance that all of them stay healthy during the course of the 2016 season, and at this point they are all not a guarantee to make it through Spring Training.

Pitchers get injured and the same will be true for the Cardinals. A little bit better luck on the injury front this season might make up for some of the production unlikely to repeat itself from last season.


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     The article said:

01. "The Cardinals will likely have to use more than the five starters above."
02. "There is only a six percent chance that all of them stay healthy during the course of the 2016 season."
03. "At this point, they are all not a guarantee to make it through Spring Training."
04. "Pitchers get injured and the same will be true for the Cardinals."

     Until professional baseball realizes that my baseball pitching motion is not only injury-free, but it also provides baseball pitchers with the wide variety of high-quality pitches that they need to succeed against the four types of baseball batters, they will never be able to count on their baseball pitchers through Spring Training.

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0025.  In Minors, free agency can be a risky business
MiLB.com
January 05, 2016

Like most people who love baseball, Jeremy Barfield had a great time watching last year's World Series on TV. For Barfield, though, the final out of Game 5 carried with it a significance few fans understand.

That final out meant that in five days, he would be in a position he'd grown increasingly accustomed to recently. He would be out of a job.

"My thing is, obviously I enjoyed the World Series as a fan, but it's a ticking clock," said the 27-year-old outfielder, who has been on the open market four times in 12 months. "It's like, 'Here we go again.'"

Players become Minor League free agents when they've been released from their original contract or after their first six full seasons in the Minors. They often find themselves waiting for the phone to ring with considerably more angst than that of big-league free agents. When superstars such as David Price, Zack Greinke and Jason Heyward become free agents, they inevitably fuel a hot stove rumor mill and end up with big paychecks, but there are no guarantees for players in Barfield's situation.

"Nobody cares about Minor League free agents. Honestly, I don't know where I'll end up or if I'll get a job. It's the same situation a lot of guys are in, and there's nothing we as players can do," he said. "They say, 'If you don't like it, play better,' but it's not always based on how you play."

Barfield was drafted by the A's in the eighth round of 2008 and became a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, remaining unsigned through most of last winter. He got a deal with the Rockies last February, but was released after Spring Training. A couple long months later, Colorado re-signed him. But even after he finished the season posting a .318 on-base percentage with 11 extra-base hits over 42 games for Triple-A Albuquerque, Barfield had to sit patiently through the final days of 2015.

Matt Purke, who began his pro career with the Nationals, didn't spend nearly as much of the offseason in suspense, but he knows just how precarious free agency can be.

"Being a Minor League free agent ... it's definitely stressful," he said. "You're hoping somebody out there believes in you. It gives you this situation where you have to face with reality -- if no one calls, baseball could be over."

Fortunately for the 25-year-old lefty, the White Sox got in touch with his agent, Peter Vescovo, and reached out to Purke personally in November, on the first day they were allowed to. He liked the enthusiasm they showed, and their early contact gave him a confidence boost. To that point, Purke had reason to wonder whether his value would be apparent to big-league organizations. After all, he'd questioned it himself.

"There were times when I fell into self doubt -- 'Maybe I'm not that good,' -- but I told myself from the beginning that I'm going to use [injuries] to make me better, if not on the field then conditioning myself mentally," he said. "With that and my support group and my family, I helped myself through times when it can get dark."

The Rangers selected Purke out of high school with the 14th overall pick of the 2009 Draft, but after the club's financial troubles reportedly caused it to squelch on a verbal agreement and make a significantly smaller offer, he opted to get an education and continue growing as a pitcher at Texas Christian University. Shoulder trouble in 2011 caused his Draft status to plummet, but a clean bill of health from Dr. James Andrews was good enough for Washington. The Nats snatched him in the third round and give him a contract with a reported $2.75 million bonus.

But Purke is the first to admit that very little went well in his career after that. Over the next four seasons, his throwing arm was seldom pain-free. He underwent shoulder surgery in 2012 and then needed Tommy John surgery in May 2014. All told, he's tallied 200 2/3 innings on the mound, going 10-18 with a 4.80 ERA. Double-A is the highest level he's reached.

"The Nationals and myself had expectations for me to be something -- to really succeed and soar. I know this didn't go the way they thought it would either," Purke said. "It's been a rocky road."

In fact, the reason Purke became a free agent after the 2015 campaign, two seasons before he otherwise would have, is because the Nationals released and re-signed him in November 2014. Having signed a Major League contract out of the Draft, Purke needed to stay on Washington's 40-man roster, and thusly he couldn't be sent to the Minors from Spring Training without being optioned. A player can only be optioned during three years under his initial contract. After that, if the organization tries to send him to the Minors, he can be claimed on waivers by the other 29 clubs. Last year was Purke's fourth as a pro, and he definitely wasn't positioned to make the Major League team out of camp.

"Myself and my agent and the Nationals, we knew something had to be done," Purke said. "I was out of options, and with having Tommy John surgery, they knew I was not going to be ready for Spring Training. They made the phone call, said, 'This is what we want to do right now, but we're going to re-sign him back.' It wasn't difficult, but I didn't expect to go through that."

He wasn't ready for a return to competitive action until the end of May and logged just 64 innings in '15. That wasn't a huge sample size to demonstrate he still has the potential to.develop into a quality big league pitcher. When the White Sox showed real interest on the first day the free-agent market opened, Purke listened to what they had to say, checked around with people who knew the system and decided he'd found a new home.

"I'm definitely excited to have the opportunity to go somewhere and play," he said, acknowledging it's not easy to leave his original parent club behind.

"It was a difficult decision, but I knew I had to start fresh and try to get new scenery. The Washington Nationals have been great to me. They've taken good care of me and supported me, and I appreciate everything they've done. I was very blessed to be in that organization, and I met a lot of great people. But at the same time, I am definitely excited to start a new chapter, and we'll see where the road takes us."

Even for Minor Leaguers who enter free agency all but sure they'll land a role somewhere, the process is unpredictable. Things worked out about as positively as they could for Ji-Man Choi, a South Korean-born first baseman who's headed into the 2016 season with the best opportunity to make a big-league roster he's ever had. Yet this offseason has also been more of a rollercoaster ride than he would have expected, and like Purke, he's had to leave the only Major League organization he's played for.

Choi won't turn 25 until May, but he's already had a long five years of pro ball in the United States. He's raked at every level he's played -- he boasts a career slash line of .302/.404/.481, with nearly half of his experience coming at Double-A and Triple-A -- but so far he hasn't been able to stay on the field long enough to fully live up to his promise. Choi's been limited to a total of 335 games. He missed 2011 with a strained back muscle, was limited to 74 games by a methandienone suspension in 2014 and suffered a broken fibula in big-league camp during Spring Training last season.

Following the bone break, the Mariners -- for whom Choi has played since 2010 -- designated him for assignment to clear a roster spot. Since it was widely known he'd miss a minimum of four months, he cleared waivers when Seattle sent him to Triple-A Tacoma. When he did get into the Rainiers lineup in late August, he batted .298 with 16 RBIs and 24 total bases over 18 games.

But during the season, the Mariners told Choi and his agent, John Lee, that he would be on the open market come November. Lee was confident teams would not only recognize Choi's potential, but understand that his injury history was just that -- history -- and the positive PED test, which baffled Choi at the time, was not a reflection of Choi's character, nor something that would happen again.

"We were prepared, and on the first day [of free agency], the Seattle Mariners, the Padres and three other teams called. Every day, teams kept calling. We got calls from 13 different ballclubs and 10 teams made real offers," Lee said. "I think [Seattle] misestimated Choi's value in the free-agent market, but since he became a free agent, he's been one of the hot items. There were not many first basemen on the big-league and the Minor League market, so his value was up higher than what we expected."

Lee and Choi found themselves in a position rare for Minor League free agents -- they had some bargaining power. One of the most important things they wanted was an opt-out clause, giving Choi the freedom to walk away from the contract midseason if he's tearing up Triple-A ball, but is blocked by talent on the big-league club.

"After [the 10 offers came in], it was negotiating numbers and terms and conditions," Lee said. "Choi didn't want to leave the Seattle Mariners, but number-wise and with terms and conditions, [the Mariners' offer] was not what he expected, so we had to pull that aside."

The Orioles came through with what Choi and Lee considered the best offer -- a contract with incentives that can make it worth up to $1 million for one year, with a July 1 opt-out clause. Choi signed in mid-November.

But three weeks later, he was on the move to another organization. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who had been among the 10 teams to make Choi an offer, selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, meaning he'll either remain on the Halos' big-league roster through the year or be returned to Baltimore. Angels director of Minor League operations Mike LaCassa has told the LA Times he fully expects Choi to not only stick, but contribute on the big-league level, and he voiced similar confidence in the 230-pound switch-hitter to Lee.

"Mike called and said, 'See how much we wanted Choi?' That made us feel very good," Lee said. "I was very excited, and Choi felt the same way that I did. It's a great opportunity for playing in the big leagues."

But while Minor League free agency gave Choi a contract he can be happy with throughout 2016, whether he's playing in Anaheim or Triple-A Norfolk, a lot of players are still waiting for that phone call with an offer to play for any organization, under almost any terms. There's only one thing those players can do.

"Just being ready whenever my name is called. That's it," Barfield said. "You just have to be ready to make the most of any opportunity you're given. Even when you are given an opportunity and make the most of it, it doesn't even guarantee anything."


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     I don't mind minor league players having to battle for a contract were their skills valued.

     Unfortunately, when teams need players, rather that value their experience and skills, they choose the players that get the less money.

     If the Major League Baseball Players Association distributed salaries, then teams would sign those that had the most experience and skills.

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0026.  Newtonian Physics Questions

Miles Mathis's Angular Velocity Argument

What are your thoughts on Miles Mathis' observations regarding angular velocity and angular momentum?

Thank you very much for your valuable time and professional consideration.

Several of the young men who came down to Zephyrhills in a bus in 2003 from Fort Myers High School's championship teams of that era went on to have outstanding collegiate careers and professional careers.

Thanks always for your unique contributions and your positive influence on our game.


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     Thank you for Miles Mathis' argument.

     I agree.

     Angular motion means curved lines of force application.

     When 'traditional' baseball pitchers start their acceleration phase with their pitching arm laterally behind their body, they apply force laterally and forward to release.

     At every moment along the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers have to waste force keeping on their curved pathway.

     When baseball pitchers apply force along a curved pathway, they not only waste force, they destroy their pitching elbows and shoulders.

     To prevent baseball pitchers from banging the bones in the back of their pitching elbow together, 'traditional' baseball pitchers contract the Brachialis muscle.

     When 'traditional' baseball pitchers contract their Brachialis muscle (a muscle that flexes the elbow joint, they cannot use the Triceps Brachii muscle to extend the pitching elbow.

     As a result, the angular force lengthens the coronoid process of the Ulna bone such that they are not able to fully flex their pitching elbow.

     Uniform motion means straight lines of force application.

     When Marshall baseball pitchers start their acceleration phase with their pitching arm in line with second base and home plate, they are able to apply all force to their baseball.

     Instead of contracting their Brachialis muscle to prevent banging the bones in the back of their pitching elbow, my baseball pitchers are able to contract the Triceps Brachii.

     This means that my baseball pitching motion satisfies the Kinetic Chain and the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion violates the Kinetic Chain.

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0027.  Old Photo

I contacted you some time ago about the time in 1969 when I was disc jockey for KPRC radio and you pitched for the Astros.

KPRC carried the Astros and their PR guy thought it would be cool to stage a photo with you and me swapping tools.

I don't think I sent you the picture at that time, but I just found it in a drawer.  It appeared in the Houston Post.

I'm still in Houston although my gig with KPRC lasted slightly longer than yours with the Astros.

Happy New Year!

Mike Marshall


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     I remember our meeting.

     I also remember the then Astros field and general managers, so I left for Montreal where I finish fourth and second in the National League Cy Young Award.

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     On Sunday, January 17, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

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0028.  Dodgers give Beachy a second chance
Los Angeles Daily News
January 06, 2016

After dropping him from their major league roster midway through the 2015 season, the Dodgers decided to give pitcher Brandon Beachy a second chance.

Beachy, 29, signed a one-year contract Wednesday worth $1.5 million. The contract includes an additional $2.75 million in possible incentives, which he can earn in increments for starting up to 30 games in 2016.

Beachy adds right-handed depth to a rotation that currently projects to include four left-handed starters and right-hander Kenta Maeda on Opening Day.

While he was recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Beachy signed with the Dodgers in spring training of last year. He needed a few months to complete his rehab, worked his way up through the minor leagues, then made a pair of spot starts for the Dodgers in July.

Beachy pitched four innings, allowed five hits and walked three batters in each game. He allowed a total of seven runs and the Dodgers lost twice.

The expectation at the time was that Beachy would return at some point — if not in September, then in 2016, when he had a $3 million team option in his contract. Those hopes were dashed when the Dodgers designated him for assignment July 30.

Beachy’s new contract also includes various incentives for relief appearances, though his agent, Rob Martin, said that Beachy intends to start in 2016.

Martin said that Beachy recently met with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the second Tommy John surgery on Beachy’s right elbow in 2014. Now, the cadaver ligament that ElAttrache grafted into Beachy’s right elbow “is 100 percent fully assimilated into his arm,” Martin said.

In 48 career games for the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves — all as a starter — Beachy is 14-12 with a 3.36 ERA.


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     The article said:

01. "Brandon Beachy recently met with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache."
02. "Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the second Tommy John surgery on Beachy’s pitching elbow in 2014."
03. "Now, the cadaver ligament that ElAttrache grafted into Beachy’s right elbow “is 100 percent fully assimilated into his arm.”

     Using a live graph from their own body is bad enough, now they take Ulnar Collateral Ligaments from dead people.

     I question the strength of dead people's rotting ligaments.

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0029.  Health concerns slow finalizing of deal between Dodgers and Maeta
ESPN.com
January 06, 2016

Completion of the deal between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda have been held up over health concerns with the right-hander.

Despite the concerns, however, the deal is expected to be finalized within the next day or so.

The Dodgers have scheduled a 4 p.m. ET news conference for Thursday, presumably to announce it.

The sides agreed to a deal before the new year, but a source told Crasnick that concerns arose over he pitcher's elbow during a physical. A source told ESPN's Jim Bowden that the Dodgers also see an issue with Maeda's shoulder and that a ligament in his elbow is indeed compromised. However, the 27-year-old has been pitching with both issues.

According to a source, the Dodgers know that Maeda will require surgery at some point but feel that signing him is still worth it if they can get three or four useful years out of him.

Maeda is a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award, which is given to Japan's top pitcher. He was posted by the Hiroshima Carp on Dec. 4.

Under the posting system, MLB teams could earn the right to negotiate with Maeda for 30 days by agreeing to pay Hiroshima a maximum fee of $20 million. The fee is in addition to whatever salary the Dodgers might pay Maeda.

Maeda matched a career high in wins this past season, with a 15-8 record and a 2.09 ERA. He helped Japan win the bronze medal at the Premier12 tournament in November.

Maeda is not eligible for free agency until 2017. He first asked Hiroshima to post him two years ago, but the team declined.

The agreement came after the Dodgers signed veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal. That gave the Dodgers an all-left-handed rotation, with Clayton Kershaw, Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood and perhaps Hyun-Jin Ryu. Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi had said earlier in the offseason that such a situation wasn't ideal, particularly if L.A. would run into a team that hits lefties in the playoffs.

The Dodgers lost right-hander Zack Greinke to the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency.


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     The article said:

01. "Kenta Maeda is a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award."
02. "Sawamura Award is given to Japan's top pitcher."
03. "Mr. Maeda matched a career high in wins this past season, with a 15-8 record and a 2.09 ERA."
04. "Mr. Maeda has an issue with Maeda's shoulder and elbow."
05. "Mr. Maeda has been pitching with both issues."
06. "At some point, Mr. Maeda will require surgery."

     To prevent future Ulnar Collateral Ligament surgery, Mr. Maeda needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     To prevent future pitching shoulder surgery, Mr. Maeda needs to turn the back of his pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot.

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0030.  Pirates sign Feliz to one-year deal
MLB.com
January 06, 2016

PITTSBURGH, PA: The Pirates added another hard-throwing piece to their bullpen on Wednesday while cutting ties with another former first-round Draft pick, agreeing to a one-year contract with Neftali Feliz and designating catcher Tony Sanchez for assignment.

Feliz, 27, split last season between the Rangers and Tigers, posting a 6.38 ERA over 48 innings. The Rangers designated him for assignment in July, and the Tigers non-tendered him in December. The right-hander appeared in 30 games for Texas the year before, with a 1.99 ERA and 13 saves.

Feliz and left-hander Tony Watson will likely serve as setup men for closer Mark Melancon, though they could take on more prominent roles if Melancon is traded this offseason. Feliz's deal guarantees him $3.9 million and includes incentives, according to an industry source.

"Neftali Feliz is a veteran relief pitcher with a quality pitch arsenal who showed signs of returning to his pre-injury form in 2014 and again at times in 2015," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a press release. "He has shown the ability to pitch in high-leverage situations in the past, and we believe we can help him regain that form and be an important part of our 2016 bullpen."

After debuting for the Rangers at age 21 in 2009, Feliz won American League Rookie of the Year honors during an All-Star 2010 season. From '10-'11, he produced a 2.73 ERA over 134 games, racking up 72 saves for a Rangers team that made consecutive trips to the World Series.

However, Feliz made only 14 appearances over the next two seasons, undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in August 2012 and returning to action the following September.

If he stays healthy and recaptures his old form, Feliz could further deepen a Pirates bullpen that posted the Majors' lowest ERA last season.

Along with Melancon and Watson, the Pirates will bring back groundball specialist Jared Hughes and hard-throwing right-hander Arquimedes Caminero. They will be joined by Feliz and righty Juan Nicasio, both free agent signings, and potentially Yoervis Medina. But they're not quite done building their bullpen, as Huntington has said they are looking for a left-handed reliever as well.

To make room for Feliz, the Pirates chose to cut ties with Sanchez, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 Draft. Blocked at the Major League level over the last three years by Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, the 27-year-old catcher has only played 51 games in the big leagues. He was clearly passed on the Pirates' depth chart this year by prospect Elias Diaz, who was called up in September while Sanchez remained with Triple-A Indianapolis.

This is the second time this offseason the Pirates have cut a former top Draft pick, as they non-tendered Pedro Alvarez (No. 2 in 2008) last month.


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     Pirates general manager, Neal Huntington, said:

01. "Neftali Feliz is a veteran relief pitcher with a quality pitch arsenal."
02. "Mr. Feliz showed signs of returning to his pre-injury form in 2014 and again at times in 2015."
03. "He has shown the ability to pitch in high-leverage situations in the past."
04. "We believe we can help him regain that form and be an important part of our 2016 bullpen."
05. "In August 2012, Mr. Feliz had Tommy John surgery."
06. "In September 2013, Mr. Feliz returned to action."
07. "In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Feliz made only 14 appearances."

     To regain his form, Mr. Feliz needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0031.  Fully immersed: Diving into baseball's player development culture
Waiting for Next Year
January 06, 2016

As Cleveland Indians fans enjoy arriving early to the ballpark know, a dedicated long-toss regimen is as much a part of pregame rituals for many pitchers as batting practice and shagging fly balls is for positional players. Starting pitchers Trevor Bauer and teammate Danny Salazar, in particular, are known to throw it from the outfield walls to targets over 350 feet away with power behind them.

The long toss itself is a beautiful exercise to behold. At first, it appears ballplayers are playing a relaxing game of catch with soft, high-arching tosses being thrown back and forth from a somewhat short distance. The players continue those high-arcs, but start to move to longer distances until they reach the farthest their arms can deliver the ball in such a fashion. It is a simple game any kids with a ball, gloves, and an open field have attempted if given the freedom to just play. Then, just when an observer might believe they are watching players work on catching deep pop flies, the real fun begins. Those balls which traveled through the air as if they needed to clear an invisible wall high above the playing surface straighten out and are suddenly delivered with the power to smash through said wall. Each successive throw is a challenge to best the previous one.

As the players shorten the distance between them, the intent behind the throws does not decrease. The object of the exercise is using the strength and determination of the 300-plus foot toss, but pulling down into what becomes a 60-to-70-foot throw. Additionally, it allows the player to throw freely and aggressively in a fun manner without the mental hurdle of the mound. The arm becomes stretched out, strength and stability are acquired, and instincts in the mind are trained upon the one specific purpose of throwing the ball at high velocity. After such training, throwing the ball with speed becomes a naturally occurring process rather than an unnatural stressful event accompanied by jerky motions and poor mechanics.

Over the last decade, Major League Baseball has undergone a data revolution in which teams began utilizing statistical analysis to gain a crucial edge in a sport where the margin between success and failure is infinitesimal. While efforts are ongoing to find more areas to analyze, there has also been considerable growth in developing players more intelligently.

The long toss is just one of the many glimpses fans might see of the underbelly of the game beyond the game. While fans see the results three hours at a time, 162 times a year, the players are constantly churning behind the scenes to improve their skills with the help of their MLB organization and a growing faction of player development companies.

The Cleveland Indians have been one of the teams at the forefront of this advancing area of baseball and have been linked to some of the most respected companies in the field, including Jaeger Sports, Texas Baseball Ranch, Arizona Baseball Ranch, Dynamic Sports Training, and Driveline Baseball.

Jaeger: Maestro

The genesis of the long toss within the Indians is widely believed to have come from the acquisition of starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. While the beginnings do have roots with Bauer, they dig much deeper than his acquisition via trade in December of 2012 and burrow into the relationships of the Indians with the advanced player development community.

One of the main proponents of the long toss is Alan Jaeger of Jaeger Sports, who has held the principles of the long toss at the core of his pitching regimen for the past 25 years. The initial discussion began innocuously enough with the Indians Senior Director of Scouting Operations John Mirabelli, who was scouting a pitching phenom from UCLA (yes, Trevor Bauer). Alan Jaeger just so happened to be present to watch one of his guys pitch near the Jaeger Sports base of operations in Southern California.

Another convincing factor from those case studies was the relative health shown in the long-toss arms compared to that of an average MLB pitcher. Barry Zito and Dan Haren are noted clients of Jaeger Sports. Zito had never been on the disabled list for an arm injury until his farewell season. Haren exhibited similar arm durability though he did have a problematic back for parts of his career. Using similar techniques for arm health, the health of the 2015 Cleveland Indians pitching staff should not be a surprise. Other than a few missed starts in August from Carlos Carrasco for shoulder soreness, there were zero starts missed due to arm injuries. Ace Corey Kluber strained his hamstring and Salazar fell ill, but neither was an arm ailment. The initial discussion laid the groundwork for a much deeper dive into the methodologies, research, and reasoning behind Jaeger’s approach. Though the program was sensible, current Indians Director of Player Development Carter Hawkins required hard data to verify the logic. Jaeger provided 42 MiLB and MLB case studies. Pitchers who saw their velocity rise upon starting the program, and pitchers who saw their velocities regress when subjected to restrictive organizations. “The greatest fall for an arm is someone that is really well-trained and put them on a regressive throwing program,” said Jaeger as he described the frustration many of his former pupils felt after they were drafted into such restrictive programs. “The fall is huge.”

All of the discussions, research, and case studies led to Jaeger presenting his methodologies to the Indians front office in March of 2012. According to Jaeger, the entire organization was receptive to his presentation and it immediately became a significant tool. The Indians, however, did not become rigid. The importance on individualizing to the specific needs of each player remained the most significant philosophy.

While, Jaeger is a firm believer in throwing more and often as a way of preparing your arm, MLB organizations have a need and a pressure to continuously evaluate all development tools. “Do you spend bullets on the mound, long-toss, bullpen? Our job as a development leadership group determines which (exercises) spend and which gain and constantly are researching to gain evidence to support or not support these issues,” Hawkins explained. The process is fluid and each athlete is different.

That Baseball Ranch in Texas

As one of the rising leaders in the baseball player development world, that the famed Texas Baseball Ranch (TBR) uses the long toss among its methods should not be surprising. TBR is led by a man named Ron Wolforth. It has been credited with helping the emerging career of Bauer, resurrecting the career of former Indians starter Scott Kazmir, and helping to change the mentality toward developing pitchers along the way.

While MLB pitchers Bauer and Kazmir are among the most well-known from the Texas Baseball Ranch, the Cleveland Indians also have another key member of the organization from Wolforth’s school of thought in their current Assistant Director of Player Development Eric Binder. Binder, nicknamed Lake for his propensity to leave sweat puddles everywhere he went during workouts, is among the legendary success stories of coach Wolforth. After his sophomore year at Northwestern, Binder visited The Ranch and had a self-proclaimed “eye-opening experience of how to develop athleticism and translate to throwing patterns.” Binder transferred to Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he continued his relationship with the relatively nearby Texas Baseball Ranch.

An 83 mile per hour fastball had persisted with Binder at Northwestern despite an ability to long toss 350 feet. (Such distances are usually reserved for pitchers throwing above 90 miles per hour.) After some frustration and experimentation, Wolforth introduced a technique called blending. Upon reaching maximum distance during the long toss segment of a workout, a portable mound would be brought out and a catcher would be placed 60 feet away. The pitcher is to then throw with the same motion and intensity he had for the maximum distance but pull the ball down to the catcher’s mitt. Almost immediately, Binder’s velocity rose several miles per hour and before long he was throwing above 90. After a short stint in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, Binder’s life would move in another direction to keep him connected to the game he loved. Various Indians personnel visited the ranch and recognized that Binder understood the detail-oriented approach required to bring about research-based results when they attended a presentation he gave at the Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp (UPCBC). After many discussions, Binder accepted the position as an advanced scouting intern under Alex Eckelman early in the spring of 2013.

Durathro Cogs

While the long toss is among the tools used, TBR philosophies center on arm care, individualized athleticism, and proper mentalities. Everything with an ability to be measured and recorded is in fact measured and recorded. Assessments are used to not only give athletes an awareness of their current status but also to challenge them to continually improve. “Ron has had a huge impact on the game of baseball,” says Binder. “He brings great creativity and innovation to the game and is always pushing himself and the Ranch to be better today than yesterday.” Exercises are carefully chosen to mirror the overall motion and mindset desired in order to organize the body efficiently and take care of the arm.

While the programs are all heavily individualized, the trust and relationships coach Ron Wolforth has built throughout the baseball community have become part of a larger culture grown from the Texas Baseball Ranch and their philosophies. The importance of those philosophies can be seen directly from the Durathro throwing program at The Ranch. There are nine cogs in the program, but only one of the nine focuses on actual throwing. Instead, the main focus is on preparing and developing the arm and body. In fact, six of the nine cogs have such a focus.

Despite only one throwing cog, Coach Wolforth believes in throwing more rather than less. He simply believes in placing the utmost importance on preparation and mentality first. If the body is not prepared, then injuries will occur—throwing a baseball with maximum velocity is an inherently stressful event. There is significant emphasis on “starting with the pain” because if the arm is hurting, then the pain points to the weakness. Additionally, if the mind is not in a proper state, then the player will not be successful regardless of physical preparation and talent.

One of the main principles employed is an adherence to the Bernstein principle that “the body will organize itself in accordance with the overall goal of the activity.” Coach Wolforth carefully thought about this principle from a baseball perspective. Baseball is more similar to football than most believe. A player waits, has a burst of action, and then waits again. Therefore, with the desired results being explosive, the activities to prepare for those results should match. Gone are long distance runs (pitcher poles), which teach the body to conserve energy. In their place are highly organized, researched muscular training regimens.

The Indians will not comment about exact exercises or implementations, but the organization does align with the philosophical thoughts on building athleticism. “It is all inter-related,” says Hawkins. “The bigger the motor, the bigger the engine, the more agile, the more at ease he’ll be able to fix his hitting mechanics, throwing mechanics.”

The last two cogs deal with mindset and integrity. Coach Wolforth states, “without question, it is who we become along our journey that matters most,” and he believes a properly cultivated mindset is the single most important variable in obtaining high achievements. Therefore, encouraging messages, stories, Bible verses8 , music, sermons, or whatever an athlete might need to encourage them is a significant piece of their development plan.

Unsurprisingly, focusing on the mind is a theme the Indians share in their player development. Hawkins notes, “Mentality is a huge part of the what the organization does and individualizes where needed, but provides programs organizational-wide to get the guys as mentally prepared as possible.”

Partnerships Matter

One under-reported portion of Kazmir’s career resurrection was the Houston-based Dynamic Sports Training (DST) actually had referred Kazmir to the Texas Baseball Ranch. Coach Wolforth Coach Wolforth went as far to say, “an unsung hero in this process was a little known assistant strength coach named Kevin Poppe.” Having such trusted professional trainers who can partner with the athlete and professional organization to achieve their offseason goals is a crucial portion to the overall success of the athlete.

The success of DST equipping athletes with plans and encouragement to empower them is why Fiocchi and his staff have worked with athletes throughout MLB, NBA, and NFL. With regards to Cleveland athletes, Bauer, Kazmir, Michael Bourn, Manny Ramirez, Ben Tate, Kellen Winslow, and Binder (among others) have trained in their facility. “We joked for a while about opening a DST in Cleveland,” noted Kevin Poppe about the Houston facility’s connection with a great number of Cleveland athletes.

Whether it is with a professional athlete or someone who merely walked in, forging relationships often require time and must be earned. DST begins building such trust through a three-part assessment of every athlete including biomechanical, nutritional, and goal-oriented segments to properly create an individualized program.

The biomechanical segment is a comprehensive study which allows for a foundation for the strength and re-education programs to be built upon. The nutritional segment requires a current audit of their eating habits, dietary understanding, and a detailed body composition status. Some athletes walk in the doors ready for the precise meal plans about to be unleashed upon them. Others come in with Smashburger 11 and Popeye’s Chicken as staples in their diet. The final segment might be the most important, as the end-game goals might determine many of the preceding steps. Also, while discussing goals with each athlete, what they want to achieve is only a portion of the discussion. Why they want to achieve the goals is just as important and can help direct the discussion and plan.

Merely laying out a detailed and research-backed plan of action is not enough. Actually caring about the athletes through actions is where true relationships are formed. Actions such as those demonstrated by Poppe are why Binder, Cleveland Indians assistant director of player development, said, “(DST) genuinely care about the guys in their programs and truly want them to succeed at whatever they’re training for. I felt that as a player when I was training with them as well as observing it after playing.”

That other ranch

A few thousand miles west is another baseball ranch with direct ties to the Cleveland Indians. Ken Knutson runs the Arizona Baseball Ranch, which is a baseball development company that specializes in teaching the Texas Baseball Ranch curriculum but is a little bit closer to the team’s facility in Goodyear. He also added duties as the throwing and rehabilitation coordinator for the Indians in January 2015.

Though Knutson had coached college baseball for 30 years, he never stopped learning about teaching. He was among the collegiate coaches unafraid to embrace the world of weighted balls, shoulder tubes, connection balls, band work, and more. Having a like-minded coach located in central Arizona near the Indians’ Goodyear facility made his relationship with the Indians organization a natural fit.

“Ken works with the guys in Arizona throughout the year and rehab pitchers and players down in off-season programs,” Hawkins says. “Ken is a pitching coordinator that keeps players on task, programs running smoothly, and he knows about building arm strength and endurance as part of those programs.”

One of the companies most closely affiliated with the Arizona Baseball Ranch and coach Knutson was started by a former Knutson-coached Washington Huskie. Crossover Symmetry began when Duggan Moran wanted to continue his baseball career, but knew his options would be limited as a first baseman. With the help of his father, who was a physical therapist specializing in shoulders, Moran was able to devise a rotator cuff and scapular muscle strengthening program to help him increase his velocity by six miles per hour in just four months of training. The program gained traction in the player development world and New York Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard is among its MLB clientele.

Rotator cuff exercises are a commonality throughout player development programs and are especially important during the rehabilitation, which coach Knutson coordinates. There are several different methods for these exercises. Band work is a rotator cuff and scapular targeted area exercise that appears to be growing in popularity throughout baseball, including the Crossover Symmetry programs used extensively at the Arizona Baseball Ranch.The main principle behind band work is to target the supportive areas of the shoulder. These areas are incredibly difficult to strengthen through non-directed exercises, so using a directed method is essential. Without a properly supported shoulder, pitching becomes problematic.

Band work has long been utilized to aid in rehabilitation. There is a growing understanding, however, that these exercises are also proper to be applied for prehabilitation. Coach Knutson described prehab as, “Do a lot of the things you would do after TJ surgery, but do them before you get hurt to prevent it from happening. From training to conditioning to warming up properly.”

The exercises also increase blood flow to the shoulder and arm. Increased blood flow has been demonstrated to be an effective method of recovering from the stress of pitching. A session of band work (or another rotator cuff exercise) before a player does any throwing exercises, along with another session of band work upon completion of throwing for the day, is advisable.

The biggest success story of coach Knutson’s season was Josh Tomlin’s successful recovery from an April 2015 arthroscopic debridement surgery on his pitching shoulder. Tomlin finished the 2015 season with a 7-2 record in just over 65 innings of work with career bests in ERA (3.02), WHIP (0.838), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.13).”The intent was always there,” said Knutson. “A focus. A seriousness. The biggest separator is that every throw was important to him from bullpens in Arizona to MLB games. I was so happy for Josh as I think he’s in a good spot and I think he really helped the Tribe.”

The Weighted Ball Place

Sometimes the coach with the perfect skill set and desire is camped out in the exact location where there is a need. Other times, the pitching consultant needed is a native of Parma, Ohio living in Washington state, and his connection to the club is through a Californian pitcher traded from Arizona to Cleveland, and, the consultant only knows said pitcher because of a pitching conference in Houston. Such is the case of Kyle Boddy of Driveline Baseball.

The research side of the company is where Driveline Baseball truly separates itself. Everything endorsed has been tested thoroughly in their lab, which is why Driveline Baseball has contracts with three MLB teams—including the Indians—to provide some analysis on the MLB Amateur Draft as well as ongoing player development support.

The main goals of any pitching program are to throw a baseball with more velocity while simultaneously decreasing the risk of injury. Intuitively, these might seem as if they are diametrically opposed. Throwing a baseball with more velocity is inherently putting more force on the pitcher’s arm, which could also put more stress upon the joints, ligaments, and tendons, which are often the weakest portions of the anatomy.On the Driveline Blog, reasoning and explanations behind many of their methods are unveiled along with guest posts from doctors and researchers. Pitching myths are confirmed or debunked. Despite its diverse training methods, Driveline is best known for its usage of weighted baseball training.

Driveline can achieve both if the arm is properly prepared. Boddy studied the anatomy of the arm and noted there are over 10 muscles which cross the elbow. He theorized that increasing the endurance and strength of these muscle groups specifically exercised during the pitching motion would allow the baseball to be thrown with more velocity, while decreasing the stress (or force) on the ligaments and tendons utilized during the same motion. After researching and reading the research of many others, he was convinced.

The current level of strength and endurance an individual’s arm has is then referred to as “arm fitness.” Once the arm itself is considered in the terms of its own fitness ecosystem, the path to creating a program which achieves both increased velocity and decreased injury becomes possible. A regimented program gradually increasing in load over the training period is necessary to improve strength. A regimented program that gradually increases in duration over the training period is necessary to improve endurance. And, in order to ensure the correct muscles are being worked, similar motions to pitching should be used. If a pitcher desires to increase arm fitness, then resistance and ballistic training make sense. By implementing weighted baseballs, the load of the exercise can be controlled much in the same way a weight lifter might increase the load for a bench press.

Using overweight baseballs can also have the added benefit of helping correct mechanical deficiencies. Olympic sprinters train by sprinting uphill, on sand, or with a parachute attached to their back. These elite athletes do so in order to provide extra resistance to build up their targeted muscle groups, but also to force their motions to become more efficient. Similarly, pitchers feel it is more difficult to throw a heavier baseball with improper mechanical motions and naturally adjust to compensate for the weight.

“In general, as the implement gets heavier, it gets harder to throw it with inefficient mechanics,” Boddy noted. “This forces the brain and body to adapt.”

Using underweight baseballs has a similar effect to that of sprinters running down a steep slope. The sprinter allows themselves to feel the speed, their legs to feel the differing stress, and their mind to understand the complexities and feelings of such speed. Mentality, once again, is a key component. Pitchers will be able to increase their arm speed with the underweight baseball and allow themselves to visualize the motion at the greater rate of acceleration.

“We pride ourselves on having a robust training protocol that self-corrects mechanical flaws without the need for direct intervention in most cases,” Boddy said while discussing their multi-modal process. “This is in stark contrast with the usual pitching coach who verbally instructs the athlete to get into different positions, which has a very low success rate.”

Tribal Assembly

The St. Louis Cardinals being investigated by the FBI for intellectual property theft was among the more controversial stories of the 2015 MLB season, as the events demonstrated the importance of MLB clubs protecting the information gathered in all facets of their organization, including player development.

Many of the companies, writers, researchers, and organizations outside of MLB can act with a business model similar to how Android was developed. Despite being led and directed by Google, the open source nature of Android allows many different competing companies to submit their best minds and ideas into a cooperative effort. Those companies will then look to differentiate themselves through the hardware or additional software.

The Indians, and other MLB teams, are more restricted. These ballclubs operate more on the closed method of Apple’s iOS. Apple differentiates itself by developing everything in-house. The advantage is an end-product all based on the same vision. The disadvantage is not tapping into those brilliant minds across the industry. But, Apple does use industry knowledge because the dirty secret is that everyone uses the same base architecture. The difference begins with the implementation of the common base.

The Cleveland Indians follow Apple’s lead. “We are open to learning from wherever we can and add to our programs or research more in certain areas,” Carter Hawkins told WFNY. The Indians listen and discuss player development with the most knowledgeable minds in baseball. There are a number of these specialists on the Indians staff. They employ several others as consultants and have developed relationships with many more.

“Our Player Development department consists of an incredible group of passionate baseball minds,” said Binder. “Their daily effort, energy and commitment to our players is the driving force of this department and allows our players to develop to be the best versions of themselves.”

Even so, Hawkins believes there is a simpler differentiating factor.

“All 30 teams have no real secrets here. There is no specific drill that the Indians have in athletic training or even hitting and pitching training. It is all about the culture created, speed/strength/agility all about how well it is implemented and how bought-in they are and how hard they work. That is where the coaches separate themselves and we work to have them separate themselves.”

Part of the culture is requesting and listening to the feedback from the players and working with them to become partners in their development.

“If they want to do something specifically, we hear them out,” Hawkins explained. “The big thing is to not be rigid. We individualize for each player and provide evidence for all our methods.”

One example given was former starting pitcher CC Sabathia. He did not have a highly technological development plan, but he knew what he wanted to accomplish. His coaches developed a great relationship with him to help guide his way. Sabathia then put forth the effort and intent into building an incredibly successful MLB career.

And through all the focus, work and determination on developing players, Hawkins was emphatic in stating everything the team does is with one specific intent. “Our sole focus is bringing a championship to Cleveland.”


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     Alan Jaeger, Ron Wolforth and Kyle Boddy are pseudo-intellectuals that have fooled other pseudo-intellectuals.

     They cannot spell Latissimus Dorsi.

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0032.  Rangers continue quest for pitching depth
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
January 06, 2016

News these days is hard to find at Globe Life Park, where general manager Jon Daniels and the rest of the Texas Rangers’ front office punch the clock as baseball’s off-season enters the home stretch.

The tasks Daniels has left to complete this winter aren’t glamorous — among them, preparations for a pitching minicamp and the annual trip to the Dominican Republic.

From a player acquisition standpoint, free-agent outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton aren’t coming to town — with their anticipated multiyear contracts beyond the Rangers’ budget — and neither is right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

A source said that a trade with Miami for outfielder Marcell Ozuna also isn’t likely.

Colby Lewis, though, will sign up for 2016 next week on a one-year deal worth $6 million, assuming he passes a physical exam scheduled for Monday. Adding another veteran bat, along with depth pieces at catcher and in the infield, is under consideration.

And there’s this possibility: another starting pitcher in addition to Lewis.

A team can never have enough pitching, or so they say, and the Rangers learned that in both the disastrous 2014 season and in 2015 — when their top two starters to open spring training ended up on the disabled list by the first week of the season. Derek Holland came back. Yu Darvish is expected back by May. The Rangers, meanwhile, are exploring all options to keep their starters healthy, and that includes having a surplus of arms at the ready.

“The only guy in the rotation that had a full healthy year last year was Cole Hamels,” Daniels said. “Even Colby had off-season knee surgery. There’s risk there. I think that’s why we’ve focused on building that depth.”

Darvish, who has returned from Japan and is working out in Arlington, is the most intriguing of the Rangers’ starters as he attempts to come back from Tommy John surgery last spring.

Assuming he rejoins the rotation, the Rangers are well aware of the pitfalls with stuff and command that Tommy John recipients can encounter early in their returns.

But the Rangers also believe that Darvish is in the same class as elite pitchers who have returned from Tommy John and had fewer issues.

The performances of Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, Jose Fernandez and even John Smoltz in their first season after Tommy John have buoyed the Rangers’ hopes for Darvish, who will resume his throwing program next week.

“The No. 1 priority is to get him back to full health, and we’re on a good path toward that,” Daniels said. “I look at upper echelon starting pitchers who have come back from Tommy John, the cream of the crop which he clearly fits in, there are a lot of guys who don’t have problems.”

Nevertheless, the club will keep close tabs on Darvish, and he won’t be alone. Neither Holland nor Perez has pitched a full season since 2013. Holland made 15 starts the past two seasons, and Perez started 22.

While Darvish’s late start to the season should satisfy the workload concerns for his new elbow ligament, there is some concern that Holland and Perez might not be able to handle a full workload.

That’s where the extra arms come in.

A.J. Griffin and Cesar Ramos join a group that already includes Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez, Anthony Ranaudo, Phil Klein and Myles Jaye. Daniels said that there are some affordable options still on the market who interest the Rangers.  The Rangers used Gonzalez, Martinez and Ranaudo a few times last season as spot starters to give the regulars a break in a quasi six-man rotation — a five-plus-one situation. It’s an option in 2016 as the Rangers consider how to manage their rotation, and consider acquiring another starter in addition to Lewis.

“All of that is on the table,” Daniels said. “We’ve got to get to camp and evaluate our staff. But that’s why it is so important to build that depth.”


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     Rangers general manager, Jon Daniels, said:

01. “The No. 1 priority is to get Yu Darvish back to full health."
02. "We’re on a good path toward that.”
03. “I look at upper echelon starting pitchers who have come back from Tommy John."
04. "Mr. Darvish fits in the cream of the crop."
05. "There are a lot of guys who don’t have problems.”

     Mr. Darvish needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0033.  hitting

I know of how you found the key to unlock your greatness as a pitcher using high speed film, but have you taken a look at it lately for assisting hitters?

One example, Miguel Cabrera strikes me as instructive in how his bat's barrel seems almost tethered to his head.

How Hard Miguel Cabrera Hits

Cabrera's hands seem to find the swing plane and the bat tracks behind, while his head remains steady amidst powerful rotation.

Perhaps this accounts for his historic opposite field power?

It makes me think of how my nephew, who has been able to hit since age two and a half, gets hit on his hands quite a bit even now at 10, seemingly because of natural hand eye coordination that occasionally neglects to remember the bat is expected contact device.

Any observations you have are appreciated, especially given how you delighted in shutting down good hitters.

Speaking of Cabrera, for example, what is your answer to the claim that someone like him would be even better if all pitchers used the same motion?

I finally convinced a friend that you discovered and or developed the motion to use, but the counter claim was that it'd be like facing a pitching machine for those of Cabrera's skill level.

My first reaction is that skill levels, height, muscle fitness, will produce differing looks, but that seems to miss something, in my view.


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     Thank you for sending me this link.

     Two things.

     First, Mr. Cabrera is a rear arm dominant hitter.

     By starting the bat with the rear arm, the bat's head does not loop under the baseball.

     Second, Mr. Cabrera keeps his eyes stable.

     To do this, Mr. Cabrera does not move his front foot.      Rear arm dominance and stable eyes result in solid contact.

     With my rear arm only swing, I teach my baseball hitters to be rear arm dominant hitters.

     With my no-stride body action, I teach my baseball hitters to have stable eyes.

     If I were make one suggestion, I would suggest that Mr. Cabrera push backward with his rear leg.

     Mr. Cabrera needs to rotate his hips and shoulders through the swing.

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0034.  hitting

Thank you again for your insights on M. Cabrera's hitting.

If you don't mind, could you comment on this portion of my email, as I can see some merit in the argument while also being convinced that your motion is what pitchers need to be their best:

"Speaking of Cabrera, for example, what is your answer to the claim that someone like him would be even better if all pitchers used the same motion?

I finally convinced a friend that you discovered and or developed the motion to use, but the counter claim was that it'd be like facing a pitching machine for those of Cabrera's skill level.

My first reaction is that skill levels, height, muscle fitness, will produce differing looks, but that seems to miss something, in my view."


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     To be able to successfully pitch to the four types of baseball batters, baseball pitchers need to throw fastballs that move to opposite sides of home plate, two minus 10 mph breaking pitches that move to opposite of home plate and two minus 20 breaking pitches that move to opposite sides of home plate.

01. The fastball that I teach that moves to the glove arm side of home plate, I call my Torque Fastball.

02. The fastball that I teach that moves to the pitching arm side of home plate, I call my Maxline Fastball.

03. The minus 10 mph breaking pitch that I teach that moves to the glove arm side of home plate, I call my Torque Fastball Slider.

04. The minus 10 mph breaking pitch that I teach that moves to the pitching arm side of home plate, I call my Maxline Fastball Sinker.

05. The minus 20 mph breaking pitch that I teach that moves to the glove arm side of home plate, I call my Torque Pronation Curve.

06. The minus 20 mph breaking pitch that I teach that moves to the pitching arm side of home plate, I call my Maxline True Screwball.

     For special situations, I also teach 20 mph breaking pitch that moves to the pitching arm side of home plate, I call my Maxline Pronation Curve.

     With my baseball pitching motion, my baseball pitchers release every pitch with the pitching forearm vertical at release.

     As a result, baseball batters cannot recognize the type of pitch until it is too late to adjust.

     To watch the effect of 'too late to adjust,' open section 11: James Jeffrey Sparks of my Baseball Pitching Instructional Video and see how these batters reacted.

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0035.  College Baseball Pitcher That Trained With Me for Four Days

I can almost throw my fastballs a full intensity and have been training every day.

I have improved greatly on the maxline fastball football throws and can see more movement every day with the maxline fastball baseball throws.

I have to really focus on getting the circle of friction facing more towards home plate and keeping my fingers horizontal.

The reverse breaking pitch is also getting a lot better and I am getting my elbow up and pronating the upper arm trying to drive through the seam and not brushing it.

The maxline and torque curves are getting easy to command and have very hard break.

I still have trouble with the torque fastball. It still is having to much slider action.

I also want to ditch the traditional slider and throw your slider. I found the grip in your material and can get break on it sometimes.

1. How can I work on this pitch and what are some "cues" to help me execute it?

2. Where should I finish my pitching hand on your slider?


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     This is fun, isn't it?

     Those curves will make you invincible.

     With the Torque Fastball, you should try to get 12-6 backspin and see if that stops the slider action.

     Your Maxline Fastball, Maxline Fastball Sinker and Maxline Pronation Curve, both four-seam and two-seam, will give you more than you need for now against the glove arm side batters.

     With regard to my Torque Fastball Slider: At this time, I recommend that you continue to throw the two-seam Torque Pronation Curve.

     Nevertheless, I will answer your questions.

01. To my Torque Fastball Slider, you have to close your glove foot and drive your body to the glove arm side of home plate.

     To spiral the Torque Fastball Slider, you have to pronate the release similar to the Torque Pronation Curve. You cannot pull the spiral, you have to diagonally drive the tip of Middle finger through the baseball.

02. After you pronate the spiral release of my Torque Fastball Slider, the thumb of your pitching hand must point downward or farther.

     It is like my Maxline Fastball Sinker in that you need to also inwardly rotate your pitching upper arm to get the pronated release.

     You have to get your pitching elbow very high and inwardly twisted through release.

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0036.  Royals sign Chien-Ming Wang
Fansided
January 10, 2016

Perhaps the announcement was lost because the KC Royals had signed Alex Gordon during the previous day, and that was going to dominate the coverage. Or, perhaps we did not notice because it was a minor league signing. However, on January 7th, the Royals signed Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract.

Should Wang make the major league roster, he would have a $1 Million base salary, with an additional $1.5 Million in incentives as a starter, or an additional $250,000 as a reliever. Considering that Wang has not pitched in the majors since 2013, he certainly has a tall task ahead of himself.

It is also a reminder of how far that Wang has fallen. There was a time when it seemed as though he was going to be among the better starters in the American League. He won 19 games in 2006 and 2007, leading the league in the fewest home runs per nine innings both season. His 19 victories in 2006 led the AL, and helped him finish second in the Cy Young Award ballot.

In the midst of another strong season in 2008, Wang broke his foot while running the bases. The injury, which was expected to sideline him for six weeks continued to linger, as he did not pitch again that season. Wang struggled the following year, and missed the 2010 season after setbacks in his rehab from shoulder surgery the previous year.

Those injuries derailed his career. From the point that he broke his foot, Wang has posted an 8-14 record with a 6.60 ERA and a 1.715 WHiP in 163.2 innings. He has not pitched in the majors since a six game stint in 2013, and has struggled in the minor leagues. Last season, pitching in both the Mariners and Braves systems, Wang posted a 6-11 record with 5.88 ERA and a 1.692 WHiP despite his shutout on August 15th.

The Royals have had success with pitchers who missed a great deal of time due to injury or had lost their effectiveness. Just last year, they received solid contributions from Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton, even if the latter did not end the season in Kansas City. Should Dave Eiland be able to work his magic yet again, Wang could find himself as another underwhelming signing who turned out to be a key piece in the Royals success.

Chances are, Chien-Ming Wang will serve as AAA depth for the KC Royals, mentoring their young pitchers. However, if there is any team that could find whatever is left of Wang’s ability, it may well be the Royals.


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     The article said:

01. "In 2006 and 2007, Chien-Ming Wang won 19 games in 2006 and 2007."
02. "Mr. Wang finish second in the Cy Young Award ballot."
03. "In 2009, Mr. Wang had shoulder surgery."
04. "Mr. Wang missed the 2010 season."
05. "On January 07, 2016, the Royals signed Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract."
06. "Chances are, Chien-Ming Wang will serve as AAA depth for the KC Royals, mentoring their young pitchers."

     Mr. Wang is back in professional baseball.

     Best wishes.

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0037.  Smoltz: Radar guns not good for youth sports
Atlanta Journal Constitution
January 12, 2016

Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so he knows a good bit about pitching. He also underwent several elbow and shoulder surguries during his career too so he also knows a lot about protecting a pitcher's health as well.

On Tuesday, he spoke at the Youth Sports Health Symposium in Windermere, Fla., and called for a ban on radar guns being used in youth sports to gauge the speed of pitches. He believes the radar guns are causing youngsters to frequently throw the ball as hard as they can, potentially causing long-term damage to their arms.

“I would call for every organization, maybe not high school and definitely probably not scouts are going to do this, but I would eliminate the radar gun. Let the pro scouts use it, no one else," said Smoltz, who is the only pitcher in baseball history with 200 wins (he had 213) and 150 saves (154).

"I would ask every organization to put it away, quit using it for social media, quit using it for guidelines for kids to see how hard they throw. To me, if you abolish the radar gun and only let the true scouts dictate what that is, I think you do the sport a service for the young kids who are trying to throw as hard as they can. I think that would help."

The purpose of the symposium was to share information on injuries and health issues that impact young athletes.


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     When youth baseball pitchers competitively pitch before the growth plates have fully matured, they risk destroying their pitching elbow before they have a chance to learn how to pitch.

     Whereas the medial epicondyle growth plate is the latest growth plate to mature at 16 biological years old, we cannot expect youth baseball pitchers to not competitively earlier.

     Therefore, I recommmend that between 10 chronological years old to 13 biological years old, youth baseball pitchers complete my 60-Day Youth Baseball Pitchers Motor Skill Acquisition program once a year.

     When youth baseball pitchers are 13 biological years old, I recommend that these youth baseball pitchers pitch once through the line-up and twice through the line-up each week for two consecutive years.

     With adult baseball pitchers, my baseball pitching motion prevents all pitching injuries.

     However, I cannot guarantee that my baseball pitching motion will prevent all pitching injuries in youth baseball pitchers.

     If youth baseball pitchers used my baseball pitching motion, the growth plate of the medial epicondyle is most likely to pre-maturely close.

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0038.  After bullpens, Harvey and Bundy on track for spring training
Baltimore Sun
January 13, 2016

With this year’s January minicamp now in the books, bullpen sessions from top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey have Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace convinced that two of the team's best assets are in a good place entering spring training.

“It’s great to know that they’re on schedule, they’re part of the group,” Wallace said Wednesday after a 15-pitch session off the half-mound for Bundy and a full bullpen for Harvey. “They’re, for a lack of another term, normalized. It is nice.”

Bundy threw just 22 innings in 2015 because of shoulder stiffness caused by calcium buildups, a rare issue that caused a third straight season in which the 2011 first-round draft pick was sidelined by injuries. He had Tommy John surgery in 2013, and returned for the second half of the 2014 season and has 63 1/3 innings since 2012 ended. Most recently, he had forearm tightness in the Arizona Fall League.

Harvey’s impressive 2014 season ended because of a flexor mass strain in his forearm, and a combination of a fractured leg and more elbow issues kept him from pitching in a game in 2015. He was also shut down in the fall instructional league with a flexor mass strain.

“You’re happy for them. That’s what you are,” Wallace said. “It’s nice on our end to see them, but still there’s a long way to go. We’ve got to go through spring training, we’ve got to go through all that stuff, but it certainly is refreshing to know that they’re on the mound Jan. 13 and they’re throwing the baseball and they’re right on track to be a part of spring training on Day 1. So, that’s nice. That’s refreshing.”

Bundy said he didn’t think he was even throwing at 70 percent during his short session, and long-tossed out to 150 feet, "no problems."

“It felt fine,” he said. “I’ve just got to work on mechanics now and repeat my delivery. That’s kind of what I’m focusing on now in the offseason.”

The next few weeks before spring training will see him continue to throw on flat ground and the half-mound ahead of getting on a mound as early as next Wednesday. He hopes that next time he’s pitching with the Orioles, even in spring training, he’s asked afterward how he felt about his outing, not how his arm feels.

“I’m kind of ready to be over all the injuries and stuff like that and come to spring training healthy and ready to compete for a spot,” Bundy said. “That’s the main goal.”

Harvey’s bullpen session came after several back home in North Carolina, where he trains with his father, Bryan, a former major league pitcher. Wallace said such extensive work at home is fine by the organization because “there’s a trust factor” after several years.

Harvey reported to his father, who was in attendance, that he felt good after the session.


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     Orioles pitching coach, Dave Wallace, said:

01. “It’s great to know that they’re on schedule."
02. "They’re part of the group.”
03. “They’re, for a lack of another term, normalized."
04. "It is nice.”
05. “You’re happy for them."
06. "That’s what you are.”
07. “It’s nice on our end to see them."
08. "But, they are a long way to go."
09. "We’ve got to go through spring training."
10. "We’ve got to go through all that stuff."
11. "But, it certainly is refreshing to know that they’re on the mound January 13 throwing the baseball."
12. "They’re right on track to be a part of spring training on Day 1."
13. "So, that’s nice."
14. "That’s refreshing.”

     If Mr. Wallace is the Orioles pitching coach, isn't he at least partly responsible for the pitching injuries that Mr. Bundy and Mr. Harvey have suffered?

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0039.  Unique throwing motions the norm for relievers at Orioles minicamp
Baltimore Sun
January 13, 2016

One coach told them they're all unicorns, but many of the young pitchers populating the Orioles' minor league minicamp this week had a better idea for what to call themselves last year: Sling City.

Ashur Tolliver, a left-hander who describes his own unique throwing motion as part sling, part speed, part low three-quarters, said the T-shirt was all but designed. It would carry those words and a large man throwing from all the unique arm angles that came out of the Bowie Baysox bullpen last season.

Seemingly ever since finding a gem in sidearmer Darren O'Day as a waiver claim in 2011, the Orioles' minor league system is full of pitchers whose own quirky mechanics, unorthodox deliveries and uncommon arm actions indicate they're trying to replicate that success on a larger scale.

"That's kind of who we are," manager Buck Showalter said. "We've got to put the pieces together, and we've got to make sure we have more than one guy who can serve that piece's purpose. That's why Tolliver's here. That's why [Donnie] Hart's here. That's why [Andrew] Triggs is here."

Said Tolliver: "We had guys that were throwing down low, low three-quarters, a few sidearms from the left and right side. We only had maybe one or two guys that were just standard, over-the-top. It seems like they were the odd men out."

Indeed, as the Orioles press through their minicamp with 15 young pitchers who could figure to be a part of the major league roster this year, those with traditional motions are outnumbered.

Showalter and his staff got first-hand, up-close looks at several of the more unique motions Tuesday in bullpen sessions. Triggs, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, and gets such extension with his large frame that he nearly lands on the grass in front of the pitcher's mound. He has a lively, low-90s sinker along with it, one that wowed Orioles closer Zach Britton in a bullpen session Tuesday.

Tolliver, a 2009 Orioles draft pick who has overcome several injuries to regain a fastball that reaches into the mid-90s from the left side, delivers his with a slinging, low three-quarters motion that's faster than typical and allows the ball to jump on hitters.

Hart, who climbed from Low-A Delmarva to Double-A this year and pitched in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, is almost a mirror of O'Day's sidearm delivery, but from the left side.

Add in the sidearm tosses of right-hander Mychal Givens, the deception from 6-foot-6 right-hander Joe Gunkel, and a slight-of-hand delivery from left-hander Joe Beliveau, and there's almost certainly a long-term companion in unorthodoxy for O'Day in the Orioles bullpen.

The pitchers, many of whom helped the Baysox to the Eastern League championship last season, embrace their unique skills. Givens said Bowie pitching coach Alan Mills told them as much. His message?

"We're unicorns," Givens recalled him saying. "We're different. You don't see a lot of guys who throw awkward the way we do, so go out there, have fun with it and pound the zone."

Givens, whose low arm slot and fastball that runs as high as 98 mph gave major league hitters fits in his 30 innings last season, was one of many of these pitchers who came about their throwing mechanics naturally. He threw that way as a shortstop and Tolliver had his motion for as long as he can remember, too.

Others stumble into it after a life of conventional throws, as Hart did as an admittedly unremarkable college pitcher at Texas State. He also played first base, and made one sidearm throw to second base that caused his whole career to change.

He wouldn't have been drafted unless he had his sidearm delivery, and wouldn't be at minicamp without O'Day's advice last year during spring training. He saw O'Day's rising four-seam fastball in person at minor league camp one day, and heard from O'Day how he used it to keep left-handed batters from lunging out across the plate at his pitches.

Hart used that tactic against right-handed hitters, and said it "opened up everything for me [last] season." He went from repeating in Delmarva all the way to Bowie, his WHIP hovered around 1.00 all season, and he kept the ball on the ground well.

O'Day helped Givens become more comfortable with his own quirks in their interactions as well.

"Darren said, 'Take what you do, take the knowledge and whatever's comfortable to you and go out and run with it,'" Givens said. "A lot of people are going to try to fix your kinks, but you know your body."

Mills said he doesn't adjust anyone's delivery unless it impacts his ability to command his fastball. Givens said the ability to throw strikes is just as important as the arm action, something he learned as he harnessed his control in 2015.

They all take heart in the fact that the Orioles are seemingly indiscriminate when it comes to who gets chances — you don't need to be a picture of perfect mechanics with premium velocity, as long as you can get batters out.

"You get the sense that Buck likes that," Hart said. "You get a sense that he likes different arm slots, different angles. You look at the success Givens had last year in the big leagues. … Every starter you see is, more times than not, a straight over-the-top guy that throws the ball at an angle. Then you get guys coming in from our bullpen, it's side to side, up and down. It's one thing you see a lot of in this organization. It's fun to see it, that's for sure."


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     The article said:

01. "One coach told them they're all unicorns."
02. "Many of the young pitchers had a better idea for what to call themselves last year: Sling City."
03. "Ashur Tolliver describes his own unique throwing motion as part sling, part speed, part low three-quarters."
04. "The Orioles' minor league system is full of pitchers whose own quirky mechanics."

     Olympic high jumpers use the same mechanics.

     Olympic shot putters use the same mechanics.

     And so on.

     They do that because there is only one way to maximize skills.

     That is correct.

     There is only one baseball pitching motion that prevents pitching injuries and maximizes release velocity and consistency; my baseball pitching motion.

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0040.  Rays look for more focus from top prospect Honeywell
Tampa Bay Times
January 14, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, FL: Brent Honeywell has the kind of stuff, including an unusual and impressive screwball, to be a quality major-league starter and the confidence to believe he can do so sooner rather than later.

But for him to get there, the Rays say the 20-year-old right-hander, one of 20 prospects taking part in this week's winter development camp, has to realize how tough the path can be.

"He has good stuff, and he needs to work on focus, which (coordinators Dewey Robinson) and (Dick Bosman) and all our pitching coaches will help," farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "Sometimes I think he thinks it's easy. And it won't be. But he has the stuff once he gets over that hurdle of focusing more, he can be a really good pitcher.

"He has that stuff. He has that acumen. We're working on that maturation part a little bit. … He has that right raw resource, but now we have to refine it. It's like that tobacco leaf — we're trying to make it into a Cuban cigar, we have to roll it right."

Honeywell, a second-round pick in 2014, was 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA last season at Class A Bowling Green (4-4, 2.91) and advanced Class A Charlotte (5-2, 3.44), where is likely to start 2016.

"I had a fun year," he said. "I did go through a bunch of ups and downs. I got down to Port Charlotte and my first two games I got smoked, and everybody was (saying), 'How do you bounce back from that?' But you learn. It's what you learn on the way up that develops you into being a big-league pitcher."


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     Rays farm director, Mitch Lukevics, said:

01. "Brent Honeywell Jr. has good stuff."
02. "But, Mr. Honeywell needs to work on focus.
03. "Rays coordinators Dewey Robinson and Dick Bosman and all our pitching coaches will help."
04. "Sometimes I think he thinks it's easy."
05. "It won't be."
06. "However, until Mr. Honeywell gets over that focus hurdle, Mr. Honeywell has the stuff."
07. "Mr. Honeywell can be a really good pitcher."
08. "Mr. Honeywell has that stuff."
09. "Mr. Honeywell has that acumen."
10. "We're working on that maturation part a little bit."
11. "Mr. Honeywell has that right raw resource."
12. "But now, we have to refine it."
13. "It's like that tobacco leaf, we're trying to make it into a Cuban cigar, we have to roll it right."

     Rays minor league baseball pitcher, Brent Honeywell, Jr., said:

01. "I had a fun year."
02. "I did go through a bunch of ups and downs."
03. "I got down to Port Charlotte and my first two games I got smoked."
04. "Everybody were (saying), 'How do you bounce back from that?'"
05. "But you learn."
06. "It's what you learn on the way up that develops you into being a big-league pitcher."

     That sounds as though Brent Honeywell, Jr. knows what he is doing.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, January 24, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0041.  Seminar on arm injuries set
Newsday
January 14, 2016

With the epidemic of arm injuries among major league pitchers, including hometown heroes Matt Harvey and Masahiro Tanaka, the situation is on the minds of baseball fans everywhere.

Intrigued, confused and maybe even concerned fans, coaches, parents and players will have the rare opportunity to learn about the issue from a 20-year major league baseball team physician and a World Series-winning manager Saturday on Long Island.

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who caught for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1980-92, and former team physician Luga Podesta (Dodgers 1990-2006; Angels 2010-13) will highlight a panel of five experts in a free seminar titled “Keeping young arms throwing and dispelling the myths” Saturday morning at Ward Melville High School’s auditorium. The seminar, which will focus on young pitchers, will be sponsored by St. Charles Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

“We really just want to dispel some of the myths and give coaches good tools back home wherever they play and have parents have a better understanding,” director of sports medicine development Ray Nelson said.

The seminar will range from the right age for a young pitcher to start throwing curveballs to discussing Tommy John surgery — which Nelson said has the reputation of “being a golden parachute.”

(Four of the five members of what is expected to be a superb starting rotation for the 2016 Mets have had Tommy John surgery: Harvey, Jacob deGrom, still-rehabbing Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, a star pitcher for Ward Melville during his high school days. Only Noah Syndergaard has avoided it.)

The panel also will discuss stretching, icing, pitch counts, throwing ages and techniques and take questions from the audience.

Podesta, who works with St. Charles Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, asked Scioscia, a friend, to be a part of the event.

“I’m extremely excited,” Nelson said. “You don’t see the likes of Mike Scioscia, the World Series ring-holder as a player and coach, often.”

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the seminar is expected to begin at about 8:30 and last until 1 p.m. Vendors will be present and there will be raffle prizes, such as gloves and hats. Parents, young athletes, high school players and coaches, and college student-athletes already have registered for the event.

“An event like this with these people for free doesn’t come around too often,” Nelson said. “So I just think they have a unique opportunity to learn some valuable things they can take for years.”


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The article said:

01. "A panel of five experts will present a free seminar titled: “Keeping young arms throwing and dispelling the myths,” next Saturday morning at Ward Melville High School’s auditorium."
02. "St. Charles Orthopedics and Sports Medicine will sponsor the seminar."
03. "Doctors from St. Charles Orthopedics and Sports Medicine will focus on the needs of youth baseball pitchers."
04. "Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m.."
05. "The seminar begins at about 8:30 and ends at 1:00 p.m."
06. "The panel will discuss stretching, icing, pitch counts, throwing ages and techniques."
07. "In addition, the panel will tell parents the appropriate age for youth baseball pitchers to start throwing curveballs."
08. "Former team physician, Luga Podesta (Dodgers 1990-2006; Angels 2010-13) will highlight a panel of five experts."
09. "Dr. Podesta asked Mike Scioscia to attend."

     This will be four and one-half hours of misinformation that will insure that these panel members will make a lot of money treating pitching injuries in youth baseball pitchers.

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0042.  Spin that curve: How Richards uses RPM to baffle hitters
MLB.com
January 14, 2016

Earlier this week, we looked at the "spectrum of Statcast" showing how spin rate and velocity intersected for various pitch types.

The only pitch in baseball this year to top 3,000 rpm was Garrett Richards' curveball, which came in at 3,086 rpm, making it among the game's most impressive offerings.

Most of the first year of Statcast™ has been about identifying what we can measure, and how much of it is useful, and why.

Spin rate in particular stands out, because while measuring things like foot speed or arm strength is simply putting numbers to things we've always seen, spin rate is something most of us had never even considered before 2015, much less put numbers to.

Spin for curveballs works in opposition to what we learned about spin for fastballs.

While high spin for fastballs generally means more fly balls (since the spin helps the ball repel gravity for slightly longer and stay up) and low spin induces grounders, it's the exact opposite here.

Curves with spin in the lower range -- between 1,000 rpm and 1,750 rpm (guys like Scott Kazmir and Kyle Gibson) -- tended to get fewer grounders, in the low 40 percent range.

Curves with higher spin were more likely to jump to 50 percent or higher in terms of grounders.

Richards, the king of high spin, managed a stellar 75-percent grounder rate on his curve, which is to say that three quarters of the curves that hitters make contact with went into the ground. Only twice all year (Chase Utley and Luis Valbuena) did Richards allow an extra-base hit on the curve.

What makes the spin on a curve so different from the spin on a fastball?

In both cases, the spin is doing the same thing, which is doing its best to drive the ball in the direction of the spin.

But, with a fastball, the pitch is released with backspin, which is another way to say the ball is spinning front to back, from the pitcher's view, and against gravity.

With a curve, it's with topspin, or essentially spinning toward the plate, and the ground.

In that case, more spin on a curveball should mean more downward movement, and in Richards' case, that's exactly what it means. In 2015, 207 pitchers threw at least 100 curveballs.

Check out the vertical movement leaders:

2015 curveball vertical movement leaders (minimum 100 thrown)

1. Mike Fiers, -11.99 inches
2. Richards, -11.43 inches
3. Evan Scribner, -11 inches
4. Chris Tillman, -10.08 inches
5. Joakim Soria, -9.96 inches

Richards' curve drops nearly a foot on average, and it's pretty difficult to get elevation on a pitch like that.

You might also notice that Richards ranks second behind Fiers, and that might make sense, given that the Astros traded for him alongside Carlos Gomez last summer after being the team that publicly put spin rate on the map when they rescued Collin McHugh from obscurity and turned him into a capable starter because they saw something in his spin rate.

But while Fiers also has an excellent curve that induces grounders, he's not nearly as high as Richards is on the spin charts. In fact, his average of 2,534 rpm is merely 33rd.

What gives?

We've learned that not all spin is created equal, particularly as it pertains to breaking pitches.

A pitch's total spin is comprised of useful spin (which increases the movement of the ball) and what's often referred to as gyrospin, similar to bullet spin, which doesn't really do much of anything.

What we've learned as we measure total spin is that it's important next to try to identify how much of the two types of spin make up the total number. If Fiers and Richards have the same useful spin, but Richards is also adding on additional less useful gyrospin to inflate his total spin number, that would sure explain the movement discrepancy.

So, back to the original question:

Is more spin on a curveball good?

It seems like it might be if you want movement and grounders, and while fastballs that induce flies can be useful, slower breaking pitches in the air don't generally end as well for the pitcher.

David Hale, or example, had one of the lowest curve spin rates, and he allowed a slugging percentage of over .500 against it, though Coors Field surely isn't any pitcher's friend -- and we shouldn't say with certainty yet that "more is better," because we need more evidence.

With the caveat that we need to learn more about useful spin, and with the knowledge that speeds and setting up the hitter with other good pitches certainly matter as well, spin certainly has an impact on a curve.

In Richards' case, even if he doesn't know or care about the spin, it's served him well. Who could argue with a career .149 batting average against it?


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     The Magnus Effect explains why curveballs move downward faster than the downward force of Gravity.

     The intermediate friction of the baseball's four seams colliding with air molecules rotating forwardly causes greater pressure at the top of the baseball and less pressure at the bottom of the baseball.

     The Marshall Effect explains why sliders and sinkers move downward from release to catcher.

     The continual friction of the 'circle of friction' causes downward movement throughout its flight.

     Rather than use 'spectrum of Statcast' to determine the rpms, I prefer my 500 frames per second 16 millimeters high-speed film.

     From the front view, my high-speed film enables my baseball pitchers to count the number of rotations of the baseball throughout its flight.

     Because Brent Strom taught Mike Fiers how to pronate the release of my Maxline Pronation Curve, Mr. Fiers achieves more rotations inflight.

     If readers watch my Dr. Mike Marshall's Baseball Pitching Motion video, then you are able to count the number of rotations Jeff Sparks achieved.

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0043.  Dodgers to try outfielder Schafer on mound, too
MLB.com
January 14, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA: Jordan Schafer the outfielder will also be Jordan Schafer the pitcher when he tries to make the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee this spring. The club has not confirmed the signing.

The Dodgers envision Schafer in a hybrid role as a defense-first center fielder and a left-handed reliever, with the emphasis on pitching. He was a pitcher in high school but has not taken the mound in a professional game.

Schafer earned $1.55 million last year and reportedly will receive $1 million this year if he makes the Major League roster.

Schafer, a free agent with five years of Major League experience in the outfield, was released by the Twins last June after returning from a right knee strain. He was Minnesota's starting center fielder on Opening Day last year and was originally drafted in the third round by Atlanta in 2005.

There have been a number of pitchers who converted to position players over the past 15 years, with Rick Ankiel and Brian Bogusevic being two of the more prominent ones. There have also been pitchers such as Micah Owings and Madison Bumgarner getting regular reps as pinch-hitters, though never playing the field. Switching from the field to the mound is more rare, though Jason Lane made the change in 2014, appearing in three games for the Padres seven years after his last big league appearance as an outfielder with San Diego.

The most recent example of a player signed with the intention of serving as a hybrid was Brooks Kieschnick. He was a two-way star at the University of Texas and was taken 10th overall in the 1993 Draft by the Cubs, who chose to use him as an outfielder. After bouncing around the Majors and Minors for a decade, the Brewers signed him before the 2003 season and used him as a right-handed reliever and left-handed hitting pinch-hitter.

Over the course of two seasons, Kieschnick hit .286/.340/.496 in 144 plate appearances and posted a 4.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 74 relief appearances (96 innings). He played in three games in the outfield in 2003 and became the first player in Major League history to hit home runs as a pitcher, designated hitter and pinch-hitter in the same season. He did not play the outfield in 2004 but did have 68 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter. He was released by Milwaukee during Spring Training in 2005.


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     The article said:

01. "The Dodgers envision Jordan Schafer in a hybrid role as a defense-first center fielder and a left-handed reliever, with the emphasis on pitching."
02. "Mr. Schafer was a pitcher in high school but has not taken the mound in a professional game."

     If Mr. Schafer has not pitched since high school and has five years of major league experience, then Mr. Schafer will need several years to become the best baseball pitcher he can be.

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0044.  Knee brace now part of CC's regular gear
MLB.com
January 15, 2016

NEW YORK, NY: CC Sabathia has admitted to being "hard-headed" about the bulky brace that was suggested to protect his right knee, but after the veteran Yankees left-hander enjoyed a run of success while wearing it late last season, he now expects it to be a companion through the remainder of his career.

"I'm definitely going to wear it off the mound," Sabathia said. "I'll probably do it sometime in the middle of January and see how it feels."

There is no denying that the wear and tear of 2,988 2/3 innings over 15 big league seasons has caught up with the 35-year-old Sabathia, who has been told that he is pitching with bone-on-bone arthritis in a knee that eventually will require replacement surgery.

Sabathia has accepted that reality, telling MLB.com late last season, "That's the price you pay." For now, with the brace on and a month in rehab for alcoholism behind him, he believes that there still are meaningful innings to contribute to the Yanks' rotation in 2016.

Sabathia's final five starts of 2015, all made while wearing the brace, raised those hopes. He pitched to a 2.17 ERA over that 29-inning span, limiting the Orioles, Rays, Mets, White Sox and Red Sox to a .224 average and a .647 OPS. Most importantly, Sabathia said that he was pain-free.

The knee brace was suggested to Sabathia last February as he returned from season-ending surgery, but he felt uncomfortable and opted instead to switch to a compression sleeve.

"I think it kept him from extending too far, his knee," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think that's when he'd get the shooting pain, and he would have to favor it. It kind of keeps him from doing that. That seemed to make a big difference."

The difference, Sabathia learned, is that the brace keeps the joints in his knee from rubbing when the leg hits the ground. That wards off jolts of pain and allows him to better repeat his delivery.

"As anyone, you hate to be where if you take a step and land on your leg [you're] ... not sure what's going to happen," Girardi said. "That's kind of hard to deal with. I think it gave him some peace of mind."

With seven starters vying for slots in a rotation that the Yanks would still like to upgrade, general manager Brian Cashman has said he isn't ready to guarantee Sabathia one of those spots, but they remain encouraged by those final five starts.

"Hopefully, he found that secret formula that allowed him to get full extension over the rubber to finish off his pitches with that new brace," Cashman said.

Sabathia is set to earn $25 million this season, and a $25 million vesting option will kick in for 2017 as long as he does not end 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury, does not spend more than 45 days in 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury or does not make more than six relief appearances in 2016 because of a left shoulder injury.

Because of that, the Yankees have plenty of incentive to find out if Sabathia can be a solid back-end starter to finish out his contract. If he can, the brace will have been a big reason.

"Just the confidence that I can go through my delivery and not have to worry about feeling anything; hopefully, I can just keep that up, and keep going," Sabathia said.


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     The article said:

01. "CC Sabathia has accepted that reality (pitching with a knee brace)."
02. "Mr. Sabathia believes that there still are meaningful innings to contribute to the Yanks' rotation in 2016."
03. "In Mr. Sabathia's final five starts of 2015, all made while wearing the brace, raised those hopes."
04. "Mr. Sabathia pitched to a 2.17 ERA over that 29-inning span."
05. "Most importantly, Mr. Sabathia said that he was pain-free."

     If Mr. Sabathia were to land on the heel of his glove foot and rotate his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot, then Mr. Sabathia would not just pain-free, but he will also increase his release velocity and consistency.

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0045.  Cadaveric Replacement Ligament

In Q/A #28 you wrote: Using a live graph from their own body is bad enough, now they take Ulnar Collateral Ligaments from dead people. I question the strength of dead people's rotting ligaments."

Because a tendon has no blood supply, an Ulnar Collateral Tendon will never be stronger than the day it leaves the operating room table.

1. Do you still believe that tendons have no blood supply?

2. If so, is it possible that a cadaver replacement Ulna collateral Ligament could generate blood supply that would enable healing from the trauma of improper force application technique in traditional pitching?


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     Born-with Ulnar Collateral Ligaments grow with the bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons from birth.

     To do that, they have to have blood flow.

     For bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons to become strong, they have to have physical stress.

     When baseball pitchers rupture Ulnar Collateral Ligaments, they cannot sew the ruptured sides of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament together like orthopedic surgeons do with the Achilles Tendon.

     All orthopedic surgeons can do with ruptured Ulnar Collateral Ligaments is to remove the tendon of the Palmaris Longus muscle, drill holes in the medial epicondyle and coronoid process and thread the tendon of the Palmaris Longus muscle through these holes.

     When orthopedic surgeons remove the tendon of the Palmaris Longus muscle, they eliminate the born-with blood flow and the response to stress to make the connective tissue stronger.

     I doubt that using the removed tendon of the Palmaris Longus muscle of the patient will receive blood flow.

     For sure, when orthopedic surgeons use the removed tendon from dead people, the faster these tissues deteriorate.

     Luckily, when baseball pitchers with ruptured Ulnar Collateral Ligaments pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after they release their pitches with my baseball pitching motion.

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0046.  College Baseball Pitcher that Trained In My Backyard

Yes I love spinning pitches it's very fun.

To get more run on the maxline fastball would I just drop step more, face the circle of friction more towards the inside, and pronate more?

I have been working on the pronation slider and still trying to get the movement I want on it.

I have been working on the sinker/screw ball but need to be more consistent on getting my elbow up towards my ear and also keeping my hand in the right position.

Also in earlier emails you said:

"When you start to rotate your hips and shoulders, you need to make sure to get your pitching arm is in the 'Slingshot' position so that you are able to drive the baseballs straight toward the center of strike zone."

1. Does this mean to not move the ball from loaded slingshot to slingshot position until the heel of the foot lands?

I felt like I did this correct a few times and it helped me command the ball a lot better, but I did not quite know how I performed it with the traditional wind up.


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     Yes. But, like all my Maxline pitches, you have to get your pitching elbow high and powerfully inwardly rotate your pitching upper arm and turn your pitching thumb downward and farther.

     To get maximum spin velocity on my Maxline Fastball Sinker and my Torque Fastball Slider, you have to not only get your pitching elbow as vertical as possible, you have to inwardly rotate your pitching upper arm as powerfully as you are able.

01. When the heel of your glove arm side foot lands, you need to have your pitching arm in the 'Slingshot' position.

     This means that while you are moving the entire pitching arm side of your body forward, you are also moving the tip of your pitching elbow to point at home plate.

     Immediately after the heel of your glove arm side foot lands, you 'horizontally rebound' your pitching forearm, wrist, hand, fingers and baseball.

     Then, you start to inwardly rotate your pitching upper arm.

     When your pitching forearm is perpendicular to the driveline, you use your Triceps Brachii muscle to powerfully extend your pitching elbow.

     As you get closer to releasing the baseball, you 'force-couple' your pitching elbow backward and use your Pronate Teres muscle to 'pronation snap' your forearm, wrist, hand and fingers.

     If you do the 'force-coupling' and 'pronation snap' correctly, your pitching arm will recoil upward.

     All power comes from the explosive forward rotation of your hips and shoulders over your glove foot.

     Get behind the baseball and lean the power of your entire body on the baseball.

     Start with your pitching arm in the 'Loading Slingshot' in line with second base and home plate and never reverse rotate your hips or shoulders.

     All power goes toward home plate.

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0047.  Cadaveric Replacement Ligament

In your answer did you mean to write:

"For sure, when orthopedic surgeons use the removed tendon from dead people, the faster these tissues deteriorate."

I thought they were using a dead persons Ulna Collateral Ligament not tendon. That's what I thought might be innovative.


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     Nope.

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0048.  Cadaveric Replacement Ligament

In regard to tendons:

Are you saying that tendons in a healthy living body don't receive any blood flow or that tendons once they are removed from their born with position (e.g., Palmaris Longus) and replace a ligament that only after that event do they not have blood flow?


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     Yep.

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0049.  College Baseball Pitcher that Trained In My Backyard

Thank you for all your replies.

They are helping a lot.

My bullpens at school are going great and my pitches are moving and breaking well.

I need to get my fastballs lower in the strike zone.

1. How do I do this?

2. When I throw the probation curve, do I pronate the upper arm or just the forearm and wrist?

Pronating the upper arm on my fastballs has helped a lot especially with force-coupling.


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01. You need to drive and release all of your pitches at waist high.

     This means that your horizontal driveline is the same for all pitches.

     With every pitch that you throw, 'stick' your pitching hand into the center of home plate at waist high.

     Let the sideward 'circle of frictions' of the four-seam and two-seam fastballs move the baseball to both sides of home plate.

     Because the four-seam fastballs have a small sideway 'circle of frictions,' the Torque and Maxline four-seam fastballs will move toward opposite sides of home plate and appear to move upward.

     Because the two-seam fastballs have large sideways 'circle of friction,' the Torque and Maxline two-seam fastballs move to both sides of home plate and slightly downward.

     Because Sinkers and Sliders have the 'circle of friction' on the top/front of the baseball, Sinkers and Sliders start at waist high and move downward to cross home plate at thigh high.

     Because the Pronation Curves have 12-6 rotation with maximum spin velocity, Pronation Curves start at waist high and cross home plate at knee high.

02. With all pitches, you inwardly rotate your pitching upper arm as powerfully as you are able.

     Then, after you have powerfully extend your pitching elbow, with the back of your pitching hand facing toward home plate, you horizontally drive the little finger side of your pitching hand through the top seam of the baseball, just like you release the square Lid off four-gallon bucket.

     Finish all of your pitches with a powerful 'pronation snap,' but especially the pronation curve.

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0050.  Football Throwing Technique

Could you help me learn to throw a football properly?


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     You have to learn how to drive your throwing hand in a straight line and pronate (turn the thumb of your throwing hand to point downward).

     To learn these skills, you need to learn how to 'horizontally sail' the square Lid off a four-gallon bucket.

     In the Football Training Program section of my Baseball Pitching Instruction Video, I have students demonstrate 'horizontally sailing' the Lid.

     You should start with the 'Slingshot' pitching arm action.

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0051.  College Baseball Pitcher that Trained In My Backyard

When you say "You need to drive and release all of your pitches at waist high."

Do you mean release the ball at my waist or release the ball at the horizontal driveline of the batter's waist?


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     Good point.

     You should release all pitches from as high as you are able to reach.

     That means that you drive your pitching hand at a slight downward straight line toward waist high in the center of home plate, not downward toward the ground.

     You need to stand tall and rotate over your glove foot.

     That means that you will release your pitches from over seven feet high and drive at a slight downward angle to waist high in the middle of the strike zone.

     Therefore, you will lean forward from the highest point of your acceleration phase and release.

     To see what that looks like, watch Jeff Sparks from the side view at 500 frames per second in my Dr. Marshall Baseball Pitching Motion.

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0052.  Stubby Overmire

Did you ever have Stubby Overmire as a pitching coach when you were with the Tigers?


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     Yes, in 1968, when I pitched for the Toledo Mudhens.

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0053.  ‘I’m Not a Freak,’ Marshall Insists After 10th Victory
United Press International
July 04, 1974

Mike Marshall has been called a “physical freak” by some, but his managers call him only one thing—“super.”

Marshall appeared in his 52nd game of the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday night and his 12th straight game, extending his major league record for consecutive appearances in the process, as the Dodgers set down the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2.

Marshall relieved in the sixth inning and scattered four hits the rest of the way to earn his 10th victory of the season against three losses. Marshall stands a good chance of becoming the first reliever to win 20 games. The present mark for most wins by a reliever is held by Elroy Face of the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates—18.

Marshall, when asked how he felt about being called a “physical freak” by the press, because of the tremendous amount of pitching he’s done, turned the question away.

“No, I’m not a physical freak. I could explain why, but I don’t have the time and you guys wouldn’t understand it if I did because of you lack of physiological background.”

Marshall, who has a master’s degree in education, probably could explain it, but his manager has no need for explanations.

Walt Alston said: “I’ve never seen anyone like Mike Marshall.” And Alston has managed relievers like Ron Perranoski, Larry Sherry and Clem Labine.

But Marshall wasn’t overly impressed.

When told of Alston’s appraisal, Marshall grinned and said: “That’s what Gene Mauch (manager of his former team, the Montreal Expos) said, too."


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     Thank you, Brad Sullivan for finding this article.

     Maybe, professional baseball will remember who I was, what I did and what I am able to teach.

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0054.  MIKE MARSHALL’S ARM A THING OF WONDER
By Bill Lyon
Knight Newspapers
July 11, 1974

“I believe that Mike Marshall will never be a super relief pitcher again because nobody will ask him to do what we asked him to do, and Marshall has to be used a lot to be effective.”—Montreal manager Gene Mauch.

Well, so much for Gene Mauch as a seer into the future.

Mike Marshall has a right arm that must be made out of silly putty. Use it. Abuse it. Twist it. Bend it. It’s still there.

If you could make a car as durable as Mike Marshall, you could bankrupt Detroit by October.

Which, incidentally, will be about the time Mike Marshall will be pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series.

Mauch had Marshall in the Montreal bullpen and used him and he used him and he used him and … well, Montreal won 149 games in 1972 and 1973 and Mike Marshall either won or saved the staggering sum of 77 of them. That means he had a hand, or more accurately, an arm, in 52 percent of the victories.

Then, over the winter, Montreal swapped baseball’s most indefatigable relief pitcher to the Dodgers. The Expos got a .300 hitter and a solid centerfielder in Willie Davis, and around the league the smart guys were winking and nudging each other knowingly, certain that canny, wily ol’ Gene Mauch had struck again.

He’d used up Mike Marshall, drained every last usable pitch out of his arm, and then used the skeleton as bait to steal an established star.

Mike Marshall, the smart money was saying, had an arm like a 1956 Chevy with an odometer that had passed 100,000 miles a couple of times.

Well, Mike Marshall, who wasn’t supposed to even be able to comb his hair by himself, was so used up and burned out that all he has done recently is establish a major league record by appearing in 13 consecutive games, 17 of the last 20 L.A. has played, and 57 of the Dodgers’ first 85.

At that sort of pace, he would wind up with something like 110 appearances. And, it would seem, an arm that makes creaking noises and has been stretched out so far the knuckles brush the ground.

Mike Marshall just shrugs.

“I don’t know what the limit is,” he said. “But I haven’t found it yet.”

It was suggested last week that he might be just a teeny bit on the pooped side.

“Tired? How? We’ve only played half a year,” he replied.

“The guy is an absolute fantastic physical specimen. After you’re around him for a while,” says Red Patterson of the Dodgers, “you get the feeling he can’t hurt himself no matter how much he does, It’s like he’s indestructible.

“I’ve never seen him stick his arm in a bucket of ice or put a heat pack on it. He jogs a lot. I know that. You’d think his arm would fall off or something, but he just seems to thrive on work. I’ve seen him pitch five or six days in a row and the next day, he’s out throwing batting practice.

“He didn’t get in—for a change—the other day, so instead, he went out and went through a hard warmup, just like he was in the game. The guy apparently knows himself and what he’s capable of. He tried to tell me about it one time, about kinesiology. That has to do with the muscles. He’s an expert on the subject. Most of us can’t even spell it.”

Patterson keeps the Dodger stats, and his file on Marshall is positively bulging. The 31-year-old has worked 105 2/3 innings with an ERA of just over 2.00, third best in the league, and he has an 11-3 record with 13 saves.

“The real tipoff on how valuable he’s been,” Patterson said, “is that since June 16, we haven’t had a complete game from our starters. Normally, you figure a team would be getting bombed with that sort of record. But we’ve won 14 of the 21 we’ve played since June 16 and Marshall has either won or saved all 14 of them.

“And we’ve got a 17-9 record in one-games, and in those, Mike is 10-2.”

Marshall’s stunning effectiveness may lie in part in what Mauch said: “Marshall has to be used a lot to be effective.”

Mauch also said: “He’s a man. He may not be everybody’s favorite type of person, but he’s a man. I had to go to him time and again when I knew he wasn’t at his best. But he was the best I had. He knew it and I knew it.”


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     Thank you again Brad Sullivan for finding this article.

     Maybe, professional baseball will remember who I was, what I did and what I am able to teach.

     Someone please explain to me why I am not teaching and training baseball pitchers for at least one professional baseball team.

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0055.  Clevinger talks comeback from Tommy John
MLB.com
January 14, 2016

CLEVELAND, OH: It is no surprise that Indians pitching prospect Mike Clevinger, with long brown hair that shoots out from beneath his baseball cap while on the mound, has been mistaken for Mets star Jacob deGrom. The young right-hander has grown accustomed to the comparison.

"I felt like I've made a couple kids' days," Clevinger said with a laugh. "They're like, 'Oh, deGrom?' I'll just be like, 'Hey,' walking into stadiums."

Cleveland can only hope that Clevinger develops into a deGrom lookalike in terms of performance on the mound, too.

During a recent sit-down with MLB.com at MLB's Rookie Career Development Program, Clevinger discussed a variety of topics, including his comeback from Tommy John surgery. The pitcher is currently ranked as the Tribe's 15-best prospect and be will be in camp with the Indians this spring after being added to the 40-man roster this offseason.

Following a strong showing in 2015, Clevinger received the Indians' Bob Feller Award as the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year. That is quite an achievement, considering the righty missed most of the '12 and '13 seasons due to reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow.

"I felt like it was just a big comeback year for me," Clevinger said, "just finally getting back, getting my feet underneath me, back from Tommy John. I feel like I didn't rebound as fast as what I guess the usual rate is for Tommy John. ... It took me a while to get my arm back, and then I felt like, once we started breaking down mechanics and got that into place, that's when the command came back with the arm. And it was just like a puzzle, and the pieces just finally fit together."

The 25-year-old Clevinger -- acquired from the Angels in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano on Aug. 7, 2014 -- turned in a 2.73 ERA with 145 strikeouts and 40 walks in 158 innings for Double-A Akron this past season. In all of Double-A, the righty ranked second in WHIP (1.06), third in strikeouts and fourth in opponents' average (.219).

Clevinger then turned in 15 1/3 shutout innings with 17 strikeouts and only five hits relinquished in two postseason starts for Triple-A Columbus.

"It was one of the highlights of our development system last year, the progress Mike made," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said last month. "He's on a really good path."

Clevinger said he has made tremendous strides with his mechanics since joining the Indians and added that he is finally feeling comfortable again after his career-altering injury.

"I do feel for the first time that I'm comfortable where I'm at and with what I'm doing," he said. "I could write a book about coming back from Tommy John, it feels like. That was definitely the biggest feat of my life. ... It was more the mental grind to get back through it, to keep going. And then it's like, you're the guy that's hurt, you're not being used. You're almost like the lost toy. That's just how I felt.

"So it was grinding through that, and then, once I got into the season, and once I hit the struggles in the season, it wasn't the same kind of mental breakdown with those struggles. It was like, 'Well, I knew this was going to happen. I've got to wait. I've just got to wait.'"

Patience paid off for Clevinger last season, putting him firmly on the Indians' radar.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Following a strong showing in 2015, Mike Clevinger received the Indians' Bob Feller Award as the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year."
02. "That is quite an achievement, considering the righty missed most of the '12 and '13 seasons due to reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow."
03. "Mr. Clevinger said he has made tremendous strides with his mechanics since joining the Indians and added that he is finally feeling comfortable again after his career-altering injury."

     Mr. Clevinger's success will be short unless the tremendous strides with his mechanics include pendulum swinging his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement all the while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0056.  Aiken sets sights on healthy return with Indians
MLB.com
January 17, 2016

CLEVELAND, OH: It was a strange feeling being on a mound again. Brady Aiken thought back to the last time he threw a pitch from the rubber and the left-hander remembered the pain in his arm. That was nearly a year ago. Now, he was standing on slab of bullpen dirt at the Indians' spring complex.

Aiken went through his windup, fired a fastball and heard it pop into the catcher's mitt.

"It was a very big moment for me," Aiken said from Arizona.

That was on Monday at Cleveland's Spring Training headquarters in Goodyear, Ariz. Aiken went through another conservative mound workout on Friday morning. He threw only fastballs, at only an estimated 50-percent effort level, but these were important pitches for the 19-year-old. They marked the next step in the road back to being an ace in the making.

The Indians knew the risk when they picked Aiken with the 17th overall selection in the 2015 June Amateur Draft. He was in the early stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery -- to repair an injury that supported Houston's fears from the previous summer. Aiken, selected first overall by the Astros in 2014, went unsigned after a bitter chain of events.

That is all ancient history now. Aiken is thrilled to be in the Tribe's care, and the Indians have been impressed with how he has handled himself through the rehab process.

"I think the very best thing you can say about Brady is the fact that he's just one of the guys," said Carter Hawkins, the Indians' director of player development. "There are 15 guys in that rehab group, and it'd be really easy, just considering the attention Brady's gotten -- the fanfare, the publicity -- for him to treat the process different than one of the other 14 guys.

"But, really, the fact that he's fit in so well has certainly been impressive. And, the fact that as a young player, he's been able to go through the rehab process with such focus and dedication, that aspect of things has been very encouraging as well."

Aiken officially signed with the Indians on June 19 -- 11 days after the Draft -- and was already in Arizona to continue his rehab with Cleveland when he signed his name on the dotted line. He was looking forward to turning the page on the episode with the Astros. Houston agreed to a $6.5-million signing bonus in '15, but then lowered its offer to $5 million after concerns stemming from a post-Draft physical.

When Aiken opted not to sign with the Astros, he joined Danny Goodwin (1971) and Tim Belcher (1983) as the only No. 1 picks in the Draft's history not to sign.

After being picked by Cleveland, Aiken and his representatives went to work on looking into the team's medical staff and track record. The southpaw had sustained the elbow injury while pitching for IMG Academy's post-graduate team on March 26 last year and then underwent Tommy John surgery six days later. If Aiken was going to sign with the Indians, he wanted to know he was in good hands.

"That was a big thing," Aiken said. "We saw that they've had success at the big league level with Tommy John guys. Obviously, the main thing in baseball, you can't play if you're not healthy. So, having a good rehab system and having good coordinators and things like that, knowing that they are successful in the Tommy John recovery, that was a very big thing for me."

As he has gotten to know Cleveland's rehab and medical staff in Arizona, Aiken has increasingly trusted that he made the right decision when he signed.

"I love it. I don't think there could be a better fit, especially right now," Aiken said. "I wanted to make sure that my rehab was going to be done correctly and not rushed. Everything they've done so far to this point has helped me achieve that."

With Aiken, the Indians have the luxury of time.

This is not a situation where the Major League team lost a key starting pitcher, nor is there motivation to get the player back to the big leagues as soon as possible. Aiken is a prospect who has yet to work in a professional game. Both he and Cleveland have a wide perspective to approaching his rehab schedule, knowing that they are planning for a career, not just a season.

"There's no timeline specific to Brady, where we're saying we have to get him back on the mound," Hawkins said. "He's so young. He's got so much time. We're just going to do the rehab as efficiently as we possibly can and, as soon as he's ready to roll, we'll get him out there."

Aiken, while surely frustrated at times by the monotonous and gradual nature of a Tommy John rehab schedule, which typically requires 12-18 months for recovery, is keeping the big picture in mind throughout the process.

"You have to be smart," Aiken said, "because it's not about the next year. It's about the next 10, 15 and so on years. I haven't even thrown a pitch yet in professional baseball. I'm trying to make sure that that's not my last pitch. I'm trying to make sure that I can last for a long time."

That means not looking too far ahead. It means following the daily schedule without pushing harder than the rehab team instructs.

"I think that's really a tough part," Aiken said. "It's just the waiting game and trying to hold back."

Aiken can't wait for Monday. He'll be back on the mound again.

And, this time, he can recall how healthy he felt the last time he toed the rubber.

"Getting off the mound again and feeling good," Aiken said, "and just letting everything go nice and easy and fluid, it felt very exceptional."


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     The article said:

01. "After being picked by Cleveland, Aiken and his representatives went to work on looking into the team's medical staff and track record."
02. "The southpaw had sustained the elbow injury while pitching for IMG Academy's post-graduate team."
03. "Mr. Aiken injured his Ulnar Collateral Ligament on March 26, 2015."
04. "Mr. Aieken underwent Tommy John surgery six days later."

     Indians' director of player development, Carter Hawkins, said:

01. "I think the very best thing you can say about Brady Aiken is the fact that he's just one of the guys."
02. "There are 15 guys in that rehab group."
03. "It'd be really easy, just considering the attention Brady's gotten."
04. "Mr. Aiken could treat the process different than one of the other 14 guys."
05. "But, really, the fact that he's fit in so well has certainly been impressive."
06. "And, the fact that as a young player, he's been able to go through the rehab process with such focus and dedication."
07. "That aspect of things has been very encouraging as well."
08. "There's no timeline specific to Brady, where we're saying we have to get him back on the mound."
09. "He's so young."
10. "He's got so much time."
11. "We're just going to do the rehab as efficiently as we possibly can."
12. "As soon as he's ready to roll, we'll get him out there."

     To return to competitive pitching from Ulnar Collateral Ligament replacement surgery, Mr. Aiken needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement all the while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, January 31, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0057.  Glove Foot Landing (the 'heel' of the glove foot landing)

In Q# 46 you wrote: "When the heel of your glove arm side foot lands, you need to have your pitching arm in the 'Slingshot' position."

This is a seismic shift in your pitching motion.

Jeff Sparks is nowhere near the Slingshot position when his glove foot lands.

How would you instruct Jeff today to get him into this new landing position?


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     I teach my baseball pitchers to start their pitching and glove arms before they step forward with their glove foot.

     When their pitching arm is forty-five degrees behind their body, I want my baseball pitchers to start their step forward.

     When the heel of their glove foot lands, I want my baseball pitchers to have their pitching hand at driveline height ready to start their acceleration phase.

     Therefore, when the heel of their glove arm side foot lands, I want my baseball pitchers to have their pitching arm in the 'Loading the Slingshot' position.

     It is not until my baseball pitchers start to pull backward with their glove foot and drive the entire pitching arm side of their body diagonally across the glove knee.

     Simultaneously, my baseball pitchers 'throw' their pitching upper arm forward and upward to vertically beside their head.

     When my baseball pitchers feel that they are able to drive the entire pitching arm side of their body and pitching upper arm behind the baseball, they 'throw' their pitching elbow inward.

     The action of the pitching elbow moving toward the head causes their pitching wrist, hand, fingers and baseball to move away from their head.

     This is the 'horizontal rebound' that triggers the explosive inward rotation of the pitching upper arm.

     When the pitching forearm is perpendicular to the driveline toward home plate, my baseball pitchers start the explosive extension of the pitching elbow.

     When the pitching elbow approaches full extension, my baseball pitchers start the explosive 'pronation snap' and force-coupling through release.

     So, to answer your question, I meant 'Loading the Slingshot' position.

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0058.  Scioscia discusses baseball injury prevention in visit to Long Island high school
Newsday
January 17, 2016

Jan. 16 may be a strange date to discuss baseball, but when it’s 50 degrees outside and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia is on Long Island, you discuss baseball.

Scioscia was the guest of honor Saturday at Ward Melville, where a panel of sports doctors discussed injury prevention. One doctor likened the overuse of young pitching arms to abuse.

“I tell parents and I tell kids all the time, the only person who is going to protect your arm is you,” said Dr. Luga Podesta, a former major league team physician. “It’s almost getting to the point of child abuse.”

One of the topics was Tommy John surgery.

Podesta and his colleagues at St. Charles Orthopedics in East Setauket dispelled beliefs that pitchers throw harder after that particular surgery, noting that only 69 percent of players who have it return to pitch more than 10 professional games. And he said their average fastball is slower than it was before the injury.

A young pitcher who has the surgery also is at a greater risk of having a repeat injury, said Podesta, who was a team doctor with the Dodgers from 1990-2006 and the Angels from 2010-13. He added that some players rush to surgery when there are better options.

“I think what you are seeing now is a pitcher with other options for rehab to get their ligament back to where it needs to be jumping into Tommy John because they think it’s some magic cure, which data is showing it’s not,” said Scioscia, who handled pitchers for 13 years as a catcher for the Dodgers. “So I think that’s an important part that a young athlete has to know.”

Scioscia, whose career ended after the 1992 season because of a shoulder injury, said that during his playing days, he never discussed pitch counts or innings with a manager or pitcher. Now it’s a rule of thumb.

“I think as you have kids at an earlier age being more aggressive and training and getting sports-specific, which is what happens in our culture sometimes, there is that problem of overuse,” he said.

Scioscia credits his prolonged tenure to not specializing in baseball while growing up in Pennsylvania. “You played enough to enjoy it," he said, “but once middle of July came, end of July, I was thinking about football.”

Dr. Philip Schrank, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Charles, noted the growing number of high school pitchers requiring elbow and shoulder surgery. “There is an absolute epidemic going on in Suffolk County with these pitchers] falling apart,” he said.

The doctors said young pitchers require three to four months of complete rest from throwing to preserve their arms until they’re “old enough to shave.”

Ward Melville junior Ben Brown said he understands what the panel said but added that taking off months to rest isn’t always easy — even when it hurts to pitch. “Definitely, all of the time,” Brown said. “You’ve got to come to reality and say I got to short myself up and not throw so much.”


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     Former major league team physician, Dr. Luga Podesta, said:

01. “I tell parents and I tell kids all the time, the only person who is going to protect your arm is you.”
02. “It’s almost getting to the point of child abuse.”

     Which is it, the parents or the kids?

     Angels field manager, Mike Scioscia, said:

01. “I think as you have kids at an earlier age being more aggressive and training and getting sports-specific."
02. "Which is what happens in our culture sometimes."
03. "There is that problem of overuse.”

     If the problem is over-use, then what restrictions should parents set?

     Here are my restrictions:

01.  From 10 chronological years old until 16 biological years old, Youth baseball pitchers need to master the skills that enable baseball pitchers to succeed against the four types of baseball batters.

02.  From 10 chronological years old until 13 biological years old, youth baseball pitchers need to complete my 60-Day Youth Baseball Pitchers Motor Skill Acquisition Program once each year.

03.  From 13 biological years old, youth baseball pitchers complete my 60-Day Youth Baseball Pitchers Motor Skill Acquisition Program and pitch once and twice through the line-up per week for two consecutive months.

04.  From 16 biological years old, youth baseball pitchers complete my 120-Day Youth Baseball Pitchers Interval-Training Program and pitch once and twice through the line-up for four consecutive months.

     I can guarantee that, with my baseball pitching motion, no youth baseball pitcher will rupture their Ulnar Collateral Ligament or have to remove bone spurs or lose extension and flexion ranges in their pitching elbow.

     However, it is possible for youth baseball pitchers to pre-maturely close the open growth plates in their pitching elbow, especially the growth plate of the medial epicondyle.

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0059.  Chen's mechanics may increase his risk of injury
SBNation
January 18, 2016

Wei-Yin Chen is a strong addition to the Miami Marlins staff. Not only has he produced solid results with consistent improvement, but he has also been fairly durable.

In three out of his four years in MLB, he started at least 30 games and pitched over 185 innings. His only trip to the DL occurred in 2013 due to a right oblique strain - he still managed to pitch 137 innings over 23 games that season. Due to his healthy MLB career, I expected Chen to have an excellent pitching delivery with sound mechanics. However, when I took a closer look, that was not the case.

Ideal pitching mechanics effectively transfer energy from the legs, to the torso, to the arm. Timing each movement perfectly is critical to minimize stress on the throwing shoulder/elbow.

Research has shown that it is especially important to synchronize a pitcher's trunk/torso rotation with the throwing arm. A 2015 study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine at Medstar Washington Hospital Center found that early trunk rotation, defined as "trunk rotation before the stride foot hit the ground and occurrence of non-vertical arm position at initiation of trunk rotation," increases risk of shoulder and/or elbow injuries in MLB pitchers.

If the trunk begins to rotate toward home plate before the arm is vertical, there is an improper energy transfer into the throw. This can cause a pitcher to overthrow in order maintain velocity, which can be dangerous. It also causes rotational strain on the elbow and shoulder due to an excessive whipping motion of the non-vertical throwing arm, as it is forced to quickly move into a vertical position and explode through a throw.

Chen throws his fastball 55% of the time. His typical delivery sees a dropping of the front shoulder, signifying a rotation of the trunk towards home plate. However, his arm is still non-vertical.

His motion is a classic example of early trunk rotation, which has been shown to be a statistically significant cause of elbow/shoulder injuries. Chen's delivery might signify a UCL or shoulder injury is in his future. In fact, he already had Tommy John surgery in 2006 during his time with Chunichi in Japan.

It is important to note that pitching mechanics analysis is still an imperfect science.  There is no "perfect delivery" that can prevent injury. While certain mechanics have shown to increase risk, each pitcher is unique. Chen's mechanics seem to be working, as he has had no serious injury since his Tommy John surgery.  Hopefully, we can expect more of the same going into the 2016 season. I'm not too worried, as he already has proven he can withstand the grind of a long MLB season.


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     The article said:

01. "Ideal pitching mechanics effectively transfer energy from the legs, to the torso, to the arm."
02. "Timing each movement perfectly is critical to minimize stress on the throwing shoulder/elbow."

     When baseball pitchers rotate their hips over the pitching rubber, they separate the shoulder rotation from the hips rotation. This is what caused Wei-Yin Chen to strain the Oblique Internus Abdominis muscle on the glove arm side of his lower Rib Cage.      A 2015 study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine at Medstar Washington Hospital Center found:

01. "Trunk rotation before the stride foot hits the ground increases risk of shoulder and/or elbow injuries."
02. "When the trunk rotates toward home plate before the arm is vertical, an improper energy transfer stresses the shoulder and/or elbow injuries."
03. "To maintain velocity, this can cause pitchers to overthrow."
04. "It also causes rotational strain on the elbow and shoulder."
05. "Excessive whipping motion of the non-vertical throwing arm forces pitchers to quickly move into a vertical position."

     When baseball pitchers reverse rotate their hips and shoulders beyond second base, they take their pitching arm laterally behind their body.

     When baseball pitchers forwardly rotate their hips with their pitching arm laterally behind their body, these baseball pitchers forwardly rotate their shoulders with their pitching arm laterally behind their body.

     As a result, the weight of their pitching arm returning the pitching arm side of their body causes their pitching upper arm to involuntarily moves behind their acromial line.

     Eventually, their involuntary stress weakens the front of the pitching shoulder.

     To prevent injuries to the pitching shoulder, baseball pitchers have to pendulum swing their pitching arm directly toward second base and turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate over their glove foot.

     All power belongs to those baseball pitchers that rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

     In short, baseball pitchers have to stop rotating their hips over the pitching rubber.

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0060.  Astors' core starters may rest more in spring
MLB.com
January 20, 2016

HOUSTON, TX: With the nucleus of his starting pitching rotation all coming off career-high innings-pitched totals, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday the team will look into scaling back the workload of some of its key arms during Spring Training.

Lefty Dallas Keuchel (232 innings), the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, and right-handers Collin McHugh (203 2/3) and Lance McCullers (157 2/3 combined between Minors and Majors) are coming off substantial workloads in 2015, something Hinch said will be a factor this spring.

"We've got to be strategic in how quickly we get these guys fired up and into games and how many innings they're going to pitch," Hinch said. "But the preparation is very similar. I'm going to be mostly fixated on the mindset we go out and get better."

Keuchel threw only 15 innings in games last spring and McHugh threw 20 1/3, but how the pitchers prepare between spring starts is also a factor. McCullers wasn't in Major League camp last year, and at 22 years old he doesn't have much wear and tear on his arm.

Keuchel, McHugh and McCullers, barring injury, are locks to make the rotation, with veteran Scott Feldman in line to take a spot if he's healthy following a right shoulder sprain. Brad Peacock, coming off back surgery, will also factor into the competition, Hinch said, along with Mike Fiers and Dan Straily.

If Feldman -- who's in the final year of a three-year, $30 million deal -- is healthy, it will make the rotation competition that much tougher.

"I don't think there's nearly as many openings that are dictated by performance," Hinch said. "I think health is going to be sort of the storyline."


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     Astros field manager, A.J. Hinch, said:

01. "We've got to be strategic in how quickly we get these guys fired up and into games."
02. "But the preparation is very similar."
03. "I'm going to be mostly fixated on the mindset we go out and get better."
04. "I don't think there's nearly as many openings that are dictated by performance."
05. "I think health is going to be sort of the storyline."

     The only way that baseball pitchers are able to withstand stress is to train at the level of stress required to succeed.

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0061.  What's next for Orioles' rotation?
MLB.com
January 20, 2016

BALTIMORE, MD: While the Orioles crossed a major item off their to-do list over the weekend, in agreeing to terms on a seven-year deal to bring back Chris Davis, the rotation is still a priority.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said all offseason that the club is interested in upgrading its pitching staff. While the bullpen again looks to be a strength, Baltimore has yet to add a starter with less than a month until camp begins. The O's ranked 25th in the Majors in starting ERA last season, pitching to a 4.53 mark.

The best available option remaining on the free-agent market is Yovani Gallardo, though the right-hander turned down a qualifying offer from the Rangers and would cost the Orioles their first-round Draft pick (No. 14 overall) that they're hesitant to part with. Re-signing both Matt Wieters -- who accepted his qualifying offer -- and Davis already limits a Draft that was setting up to be one of the most important for the organization in recent memory.

On a smaller scale, Baltimore has also been linked to reclamation project Doug Fister, though his reported contract demands are high. Veteran lefty Mark Buehrle could emerge as an intriguing option if he decides to play. Wei-Yin Chen's departure gives the O's an all right-handed rotation as of now and the 37-year-old Buehrle -- on the short list of free-agent lefties -- has not made it clear whether he will retire or pitch in 2016.

There's also potential for the Orioles to add a starter via trade, though one of the teams with the biggest surplus -- the Rays -- is a division rival and could be hesitant to deal within the American League East. San Diego, Arizona and Seattle are also teams that are rumored to be at least listening in on multiple starters.

If the Orioles don't add a viable rotation pitcher, they'll be tasked with covering the loss of their most dependable starter in Chen, who signed as a free agent with the Marlins, and banking on the rest of the rotation to improve. Chen was the only O's pitcher who made a minimum of 10 starts and had an ERA under 4.00 last season, going 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 31 games.

So who will step up?

Miguel Gonzalez had been the model of consistency until last season, when he was hampered by injury and went a disappointing 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA. Chris Tillman (11-11, 4.99 ERA) showed flashes of being the Orioles' go-to guy; Ubaldo Jimenez (12-10, 4.11) has been streaky his entire career and is capable -- when he's on -- of being utterly dominant. There's also the belief that Kevin Gausman, 24, will come into his own this season. Gausman, who has shuffled between Triple-A and the Majors the past few years should be a regular fixture in the rotation and able to build on a 2015 campaign in which he went 4-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 25 games (17 starts).

Even if the four mentioned above hold serve, the O's depth will once again be tested. Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson, who each made their debut last season, will be among the candidates vying for the fifth rotation spot, assuming Duquette doesn't sign a sure thing in the next few weeks.


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     Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, Dan Duquette, said:

01. "The club is interested in upgrading its pitching staff."
02. "The bullpen again looks to be a strength."

     With Rick Peterson and Dan Duquette's brother using the American Sports Medicine Institute's Dr. Glenn Fleisig's expertise, the Orioles should have a long list of high-quality baseball pitchers from which to select.

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0062.  Anderson must overcome repeated injuries
SBNation
January 20, 2016

When he was drafted by the Rockies in the first round in 2011 out of the University of Oregon, Tyler Anderson was touted as a "safe" pick—a low ceiling but high floor lefty that would be in the majors quickly as a mid to back of rotation starter. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out that way for Anderson and the Rockies.

Despite pitching very well at every professional level, the just turned 26 year-old Anderson has seen his predicted swift rise through the minor leagues hampered by injuries. Specifically, as Anderson said in an interview this past June with the Las Vegas Review Journal, he suffered a stress fracture in his left elbow while pitching for High-A Modesto in 2013 after suffering a sports hernia the year before. The injury limited him to 89 2/3 innings that year. According to Anderson, he then pitched through "nagging and intermittent" elbow pain throughout 2014 until the Rockies shut him down after the 2014 Texas League playoffs. Since that time, Anderson has not been throwing at all to give the stress fracture in his elbow more time to heal.

It's a real shame too, because Anderson really has been a fantastic minor league pitcher since being drafted. In 328 minor league innings across four levels (none above Double-A), Anderson has a 2.39 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. He was even better last year in Double-A, despite playing through pain. With the Tulsa Drillers in 2014, Anderson won the Texas League Pitcher of the Year award thanks to a 1.98 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, a .216 BAA, and a 8.1 K/9 over 118 IP. Those are fine numbers that show Anderson's ability to dominate relatively unsophisticated minor league hitters with his excellent command.

In the early stages of the 2014 season, Anderson was limited to a 75-or-so pitch count by the organization. Only in the second half of the year did the organization allow him to toss more than 80 pitches in an outing (and never more than 100). Still, the caution wasn't enough to avoid a lost year in 2015.

I'm truly interested to see if Anderson, who has been labeled a back-end starter prospect most of his professional career, can use his great command to get major league hitters out consistently. Before that occurs though, he'll have to prove that his left arm is healthy and that it can carry a major league starter's workload.

Before we knew that 2015 would be a lost season for Anderson, he was rated as a future starter by national prospect gurus. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs slapped a 50 Future Value (No. 4 starter) grade on Anderson and ranked him seventh in the system:

The big lefty makes you pause due to the funky delivery, but it creates deception and he's a good enough athlete to make it work for him command-wise. The stuff is at least as good as in college if not a little better: Anderson hit 95 mph earlier this month, but sits 89-92 mostly. His changeup is a weapon to get swings and misses but the question is on the breaking ball. He tinkers with a slider, curveball and cutter at times, but should be able to settle with at least one fringy/useable pitch to keep hitters off his best two pitches.

Meanwhile, Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus had Anderson ranked eighth in the system prior to 2015 and gave him a likely future projection of a No. 5 starter:

Strengths: Pitchability lefty; comfortable working in and out with average arsenal; mechanics come with some funk, adding deception and allowing average fastball velocity to play up; plus low-80s changeup projects heater through bulk of journey before late tumble; short slider/cutter is a weapon, regularly sliding up handles and off barrels; curve is serviceable as change of pace; hitchy motion and arm action disrupt hitter timing.

Weaknesses: Lacks durability; stuff is fringy on paper; deception and quirks may not be enough to keep major-league bats off center; razor-thin margin for error in zone; lacks go to swing-and-miss offering for same side bats.

When healthy, Anderson relies on guile and deception in implementing a vanilla collection of pitches to surprising effect. The changeup is an equalizer, particularly nasty against oppo-side bats thanks to late fade and tumble, and he continues to improve upon his sequencing and placement to get the most out of an average fastball and short slider. Anderson could join Gray in a Triple-A assignment to start 2015, and should be available to help out in Colorado as soon as an opportunity arises, be it in the rotation or as a lefty arm out of the pen. The upside isn't great, but there's value in a steady, back-end arm provided he can stay healthy long enough to rack up some innings.

Obviously the injury this season caused Anderson to sink in the mind of voters (and of national prospect watchers like MLB.com's Jim Callis, who left Anderson completely off the top 30 Riockies end of year prospect list). Honestly, I think people may be selling the value of Anderson a little short with this placement (I placed him 14th in what is now the deepest system since I've been following it) given his minor league production, but I don't blame voters for taking a wait-and-see approach with Anderson's health.

The Rockies placed Anderson on their 40 man roster this past off-season and moved him to the 60 day DL in July, so he's already accrued 86 days of big league service time and has used one minor league option. Ideally, Anderson is able to resume throwing in semi-competitive situations this spring, with the most likely destination after that being AAA Albuquerque. If he proves his mettle with the Isotopes (which is already presuming a lot given his health history), I would not be surprised to see Anderson called up into the starting rotation later in 2016 if the need arises. In a very deep Rockies system, Anderson has arguably the best chance to be a surprise positive contributor to the 2016 team.


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     The article said:

01. "Pitching injuries hampered Tyler Anderson's predicted swift rise through the minor leagues."
02. "Specifically, Mr. Anderson suffered a stress fracture in his pitching elbow."
03. "Throughout 2014, Mr. Anderson pitched through "nagging and intermittent" elbow pain."
04. "Mr. Anderson's changeup is a weapon to get swings and misses."
05. "However, Mr. Anderson's breaking ball is questionable."
06. "Mr. Anderson tinkers with a slider, curveball and cutter."

     Mr. Anderson releases his slider, curveball and cutter over the top of his Index finger.

     When Mr. Anderson releases breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger, Mr. Anderson bangs the olecranon process into the olecranon fossa.

     That is how Mr. Anderson suffered a stress fracture in his pitching elbow.

     To prevent injuring the pitching elbow, Mr. Anderson needs to learn how to release his breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of his Middle finger.

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0063.  College Baseball Pitcher that Trained in my Backyard has Questions

I am now getting the ball down lower after making those adjustments.

My reverse breaking ball will definitely be one of my best pitches but too often I throw it too far over towards the left handed batter. I want to get it in the zone more consistently.

1. How do I get my elbow up higher on this pitch to drive my hand in the zone better?

2. How do I finish my hand in my throwing arm side pocket better?

3. And how should I work my lower half besides drop stepping on this pitch?

My coach also likes my torque curve as my slider as well. It breaks very good but he wants it a little harder how should I do this just throw it as hard as I can?

I have been doing at least 24 bucket lid throws, football throws with all the pitches and wrist weights every day. I have also been doing at least 48 baseball throws with all the pitches and 48 lead ball throws every day.


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     To throw your reverse breaking ball (Maxline Fastball Sinker) to the pitching arm side of home plate you have to drive your pitching hand down your acromial line.

     Where the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion rushes at the beginning, my baseball pitching motion rushes at the end.

     To throw my Maxline pitches, especially the reverse breaking ball, you have to wait until you have your body in front of your glove foot with your pitching shoulder pointing toward home plate.

     My No Glove Foot Step body action Slingshot glove and pitching arm actions drill teaches that rushing and stepping too far prevents getting your body in front of your glove foot.

     You have to stand tall and rotate your hips and shoulders forward together over your glove foot.

     You could try standing in your Set Position and throw without moving your glove foot at all. The power is in front of the glove foot.

     My Torque Fastball Slider is a Torque Fastball that your spiral by pronating your pitching forearm as hard as you are able. Rather than worry about getting the circle of friction on the top front of the baseball, you should start by throwing two-seam Torque Pronation Curves.

     Releasing breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger severely decreases release velocity.

     When your throw breaking pitches, you have to drive the Ring finger side of your Middle finger though the top seam of the baseball.

     Instead of trying to throw the slider hard with your pitching arm, you need to drive the Ring finger side of your Middle finger as hard as you are able.

     Practicing driving the Ring finger side of your Middle finger through the top of the lead ball should increase the release velocity of your breaking pitches.

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0064.  College Baseball Pitcher that Trained in my Backyard has Questions

I did this (drive down the acromial line) with maxline sinker and it helped a lot just need to work on getting it lower in the zone.

Also do you have any fitness regiment workouts or running that I need to do as a pitcher. They work us out hard at the university, but some of it is not so pitcher specific.


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     With my baseball pitching motion, you have to relax until the very last moment, then you explode through release as far forward as you are able.

     You need to turn your back to the batters and stick your pitching hand in the center of the strike zone.

     Covering first base is the only pitcher specific running drill.

     When I had my baseball position players run the bases, I had my baseball pitchers cover first base, then run the foul poles or jog around the field next to the fences.

     I had the baseball position players and pitchers run at the same time until everybody finished running.

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0065.  Nationals sign Arroyo to minor league contract
Washington Times
January 27, 2016

Veteran right-handed pitcher Bronson Arroyo agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals and has been invited to spring training, the team announced Tuesday night.

Arroyo, 38, has not pitched since 2014. He underwent Tommy John surgery after being placed on the disabled list midway through that season.

In his 15 major league seasons, Arroyo has a 4.19 ERA. He has been named an all-star once, played for four teams, and had an extended run with the Cincinnati Reds when Dusty Baker, now the Nationals’ manager, was in that role.

One thing Arroyo does do when healthy is produce a lot of innings. From 2004 through 2013, he averaged 207 innings a season.

At this point, he’s a backup plan for the Nationals’ rotation. At the top are Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross and Tanner Roark figure to roundout the rotation.


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     The article said:

01. "Bronson Arroyo agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals."
02. "Mr. Arroyo has not pitched since 2014."
03. "Mr. Arroyo underwent Tommy John surgery."
04. "In his 15 major league seasons, Mr. Arroyo has a 4.19 ERA."
05. "Mr. Arroyo had an extended run with the Cincinnati Reds when Dusty Baker, now the Nationals’ manager."

     It took Mr. Arroyo fifteen years of major league pitching to injure his Ulnar Collateral Ligament.      To return to the major leagues, Mr. Arroyo needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0066.  How to make your kids hate sports without really trying
CNN.com
January 21, 2016

Christine Carugati, 18, of Langhorne, Pennyslvania started getting recruited to play college lacrosse the summer after the ninth grade. You heard that right -- when she just finished her freshman year in high school.

"What ninth grader knows what they want and what ninth grader, never mind an adult, isn't easily swayed, thinking somebody wants me. It's very intoxicating for any age but for a child especially, so my counsel was to keep all your options open," said her mom, Mary Carugati, during an interview.

And now it appears the courting process is starting even earlier. Syracuse University made headlines recently with word that an eighth-grade girl had verbally committed to play on its women's lacrosse team, a move that appears to be the youngest ever commitment to a men's or women's college lacrosse team, according to Lacrosse magazine.

Terry Norpel Dzelzgalvis, who coached recreational league lacrosse for 12 years and played lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania, said the trend to younger and younger commitments is a big concern in youth sports today.

"It's ridiculous, and the parents aren't putting their feet down," she said. (Full disclosure: Norpel Dzelzgalvis and I are friends from college.)

The early recruiting by colleges combined with parents' unwillingness to stand up and say no to such practices is just one example of how youth sports has changed and for the worse, coaches, players, authors and parents I interviewed for this story say. And, there are plenty of stats to back up how concerning the problem should be for parents who want the best for their kids.

Seventy percent of children leave organized sports by the age 13, according to research by the National Alliance for Sports. Let's put it this way: If your daughter or son plays on a soccer team, seven out of 10 of the members of that team won't be playing soccer or any organized sport whatsoever by the time they enter their teenage years.

"Kids are telling us this is not for me. It might be for you, but it's really not meeting our needs," said Mark Hyman, author of three highly-regarded books on kids and sports, including "Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids."

Hyman, who is an assistant professor of management at George Washington University, likes to compare the situation to what might happen in the business world with the same kind of fallout. "If 70% of Walmart's customers walked out of the store and said, 'This is not for me. I'm not coming back,' the status quo would not stand. Walmart would figure out a different business model but in youth sports, we seem to be very satisfied with a 70% dropout rate."

We shouldn't be satisfied and should be very worried about how many kids are dropping out, said John O'Sullivan, a former college and professional soccer player, who has coached on every level from children to college, and who now devotes his energy to the Changing the Game Project. His organization's goal is to return youth sports to the children and to "put the 'play' back in 'play ball.' "

"As I say to all the parents at my parents talks, 'This isn't a sports issue. This is a wellness issue,' " said O'Sullivan, citing how this generation is the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents and it's due to inactivity. "We know all the benefits of activity from better grades to less drugs, less pregnancy, more likely to go to college and on and on and on and yet at the same age when most kids are walking away from sports is that critical age where if they're active then, they're likely to be active for life."

Why Kids Are Walking Away

One of the main reasons kids are walking away is because of injuries due to overuse, many of the people I interviewed for this story say. Every year, more than 3.5 million children under the age 14 need treatment for sports injuries, with nearly half of all sports injuries for middle and high school students caused by overuse, according to research.

This is something Hyman knows all too well, he says. His son was a star pitcher at age 10 (he was the coach), and Hyman often thinks about the "pretty profound mistake" he made getting swept up in his son's success.

By the time his son was 16, he had a ruptured ligament in his elbow, which spelled the beginning of the end for him, said Hyman. "Was I too invested in his youth baseball career? Yes. Should he have pitched less? Yes. Should I have said no to some opportunities he had to play on teams during times of the year when he should have been resting? Yes," he said.

"So, I guess I'm an example of a parent who I think made some mistakes and probably could help parents understand that they shouldn't be in a hurry, that if their kids really have talent and passion that they are going to be OK whether they're playing on six travel teams or just the rec league."

O'Sullivan, who has two young children ages 8 and 10 who play sports, says having a child concentrate on one sport -- and one sport only -- before their middle teenage years is a big part of the problem. Parents believe they need to give their kid an edge, he said, but the irony is they may be hurting their child's athletic future more than helping.

"I'd say that overwhelming emotion is one of fear: 'What if I don't give my kid this chance? Am I a bad mom? Am I a bad dad? Will my kid fall behind?' " said O'Sullivan, author of "Changing the Game: The Parent's Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids." "The actual science and evidence that we look at though shows that except in sports like female gymnastics where kids hit their peak when they're 14- (and) 15-years-old, specializing in one sport before the age of 12 is going to be a far less likely path to actually elite level performance."

Most kids who do specialize early often say, when they are asked about any regrets, that they wish they did other sports, he said.

Research by the U.S. Olympic Committee shows that the vast majority of elite level athletes are multisport athletes until their middle teenage years, he added.

"I just think it helps if you participate in multiple sports," said Norpel Dzelzgalvis, the former Division I college player and former coach. "I think that if you look at most college rosters, you will see that these student-athletes have excelled in multiple sports, and not just the one for which they were recruited to play in college."

Carugati credits Norpel Dzelzgalvis, one of her daughter's lacrosse coaches from the time she started playing in the second grade and up through the eighth grade, as one of the reasons why her daughter continued to play lacrosse, along with soccer and basketball.

"They never made those girls feel like they couldn't play another sport," said Carugati, a mom of three and marketing consultant, who volunteered for her daughter's recreational league lacrosse program.

Said Norpel Dzelzgalvis, "We never wanted to tell kids who were 11 years old, 'I'm sorry but you have to commit to this as your year-round sport.' I mean there's plenty of time for that but kids would come to us and say, 'Well, our soccer coach said to us we'll be off the team if we go to our lacrosse game instead of our soccer game.'"

Coaches and parents need to 'redefine' success

More coaches, who are more focused on keeping the game fun and watching players develop skills that help them for life as opposed to winning at all costs, would no doubt help.

But, it isn't easy to ignore those pressures to win, says Hyman. He remembers how all the parents were pleased when the team was winning and how those victories reflected positively on him as coach. "Looking back, none of those things really matter when your kid is 8- or 9- or 10 years old. They should be the least important things," he said.

Coaches should be guided by long-term, not short-term, success, said O'Sullivan.

"So, you know what, on a 9-year-old team, on an 11-year-old team, 12-year-old team, every kid should play every game. Anyone who doesn't say that doesn't care about kids and doesn't understand anything about talent development. You can't know if an 11-year-old is going to make it or not."

The concept of success in sports also needs to be redefined, says Janis Meredith, a coach's wife for 29 years and a sports mom for 21 years, who likes to say she has "seen life from both sides of the bench."

She writes about sports parenting on her blog JBMThinks.com and is the author of a sports parenting survival guide, including "22 Ways to Let Kids Be Little in Youth Sports."

"Success doesn't mean that you're always going to be the star on the team. It doesn't mean that you are always going to start," said Meredith, who tells the story of how her daughter, when she was a senior in high school, thought about quitting the basketball team because she was getting less playing time that she had during her junior year.

Her daughter ended up sticking with the team, and decided that her role on the team was going to be "the encourager." At the end of the season, at the awards' dinner, her coach saluted her as the most encouraging player on the team, said Meredith.

"And I thought, OK, my daughter wasn't the leading scorer, but you know what, that was success, that she stuck with it and that she turned around her attitude, and that she recognized her role. That to me is success," she added.

Parents are too often "looking at the only kind of success that ends with a scholarship and there are other ways to have success."

Not to mention that the chances of your child playing college sports is very small. For example, only about 3% of women and men athletes who play high school basketball go on to play in college. according to an analysis by College Sports Scholarships.

The car ride home

I've thought quite a bit about how youth sports has changed since I have two girls, ages 8 and 9 1/2, who both play a variety of sports. I recently dropped off one of my daughters at a soccer practice and was surprised at how many parents were staying to watch. I believe one caregiver was recording the entire practice on her iPhone. Was she doing that so the girls' parents could see how their daughter did that day?

I remembered how when I was a kid and played softball on a church league, no parent, including my own, attended practice and very few attended games. What changed?

The reasons are countless and aren't just about sports, but about parenting, too. As we helicopter and hover as parents, we are more involved than ever. Involvement is OK, experts say, but when our kids' sports life becomes more about us and our needs, then we've crossed the line.

"I think a lot of times parents tend to gauge their own self-esteem on how well their kids do, like, 'I'm so and so's parent. Did you see how well my kid did?' " said Janis Meredith, the blogger. "Maybe they're trying to make up for something that they didn't do when they were younger or something that they did do, maybe they want their kid to live up to them."

Our kids get this message from us when we scream on the sidelines -- even when they tell us not to -- or when we choose to do play- by-play analysis in the car ride home. When O'Sullivan was director of coaching for a number of soccer clubs and he did exit interviews with kids who decided to leave the club, he said one of the saddest things he learned is their least favorite moment in sports was the car ride home after the game, he wrote in a blog post.

Meredith, a mom of three whose children all played sports from age four through college, said her kids never wanted to dissect the game on the drive home.

"I'm a question asker and I tend to ask a lot of questions and so that often got me in trouble because I would say things like, 'What happened?' or 'Why didn't the coach put you in?' ... and they're like, ' Mom, enough, the questions, stop,' " she said. "We learned after a game to let our kids take the lead on the conversation."

Letting our kids take the lead in conversation -- and when it comes to what sports they play and how often -- is a crucial way to keep sports fun and interesting for our children, these experts say.

That is certainly not easy as youth sports has become a multibillion dollar industry, with financial benefits for tournament organizers and apparel manufacturers, and even wins for media companies. (ESPN reportedly pays $7.5 million per year for the rights to broadcast the Little League World Series.)

"The line between professional and college and youth sports has really narrowed," said Hyman, who also is author of "The most expensive Game in Town: The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll of Today's Families."

"Youth sports are now an entertainment product just like the colleges and the pros ... and on some level, I think parents are influenced by that."

Advice for parents

So what's a parent to do?

No, we can't single-handedly change youth sports as we know it, but if each parent started practicing good, positive, supportive behavior, with the focus on the fun of the game and nothing else, that's how you create a movement, said O'Sullivan.

"Then, all of a sudden, good behavior on the sidelines by parents is no longer risky. It's what everyone does. Being quiet on the ride home, it's what everyone does."

Carugati says she was influenced by her niece, who is seven years older than her daughter Christine and who played soccer at Villanova. She played three sports, and never wanted to give any of them up, said Carugati.

"I think I took my lead from my niece and I wanted my daughter to keep enjoying sports," she said. "I saw it every time the season ended my daughter would be looking forward to the next season and the new sport, and with every change of season, there was new excitement. And I really feel like that kept her interested."

And now her daughter Christine, a senior in high school, is gearing up to play lacrosse in college. She received an athletic scholarship from Boston University.

Parents should keep their eye on the bigger picture, said Carugati. "The goal is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted, self-supporting adult with a career they are passionate about," she wrote in an email. "When it's no longer fun, it's time to find something else."


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     In my Special Reports file, I included the "Guidelines for Children's Sports."

     In 1979, Motor Skill and Youth Sport Programs experts Rainer Martens and Vern Seefeldt wrote Guidelines for Childrens' Sports.

01.  Right to Participate in Sports

     a.  Give them all a chance.
     b.  Right to choose
     c.  Guidance, not coercion, is needed
     d.  Overspecialization
     e.  Intensity of competition
     f.  Right to full participation
     g.  'Child first, winning second'
     h.  'I'd rather play and lose than sit on the bench and win'

02.  Right to Participate at a Level Commensurate with Each Child's Maturity and Ability

     a.  What is wrong with grouping children by age only?
     b.  Children's biological clocks run at different rates
     c.  Children also differ in psychological maturity
     d.  Children also vary substantially in ability, even when they are of similar physical and psychological maturity.
     e.  Matching children to sports
     f.  Methods of maturation matching

03.  Right to Have Qualified Adult Leadership

     a.  No substitute for competent leadership
     b.  Qualities of good leaders
     c.  Winning does reflect the quality of leadership

04.  Right to Play as a Child and Not as an Adult

     a.  One of the virtues of sports is that they challenge children to strive for excellence in order to obtain difficult, but valued, goals.
     b.  Kids are not adults
     c.  Not only do some adults have unrealistic expectations of how children should perform in sports, they also expect children to take sports as seriously as they do.
     d.  Keeping the fun in sports
     e.  Achieving Balance

05.  Right of Children to Share in the Leadership and Decision-making of Their Sport Participation

     a.  Fostering Independence
     b.  Sharing the leadership and decision-making begins by giving children the choice of whether or not to participate in sports.
     c.  What is sharing?
     d.  Not abdicating responsibilities
     f.  Listening is important, too!

06.  Right to Participate in Safe and Healthy Environments

     a.  Leadership is the key
     b.  Insuring safety
     c.  Risk of injury exaggerated
     d.  Let them play, but safely

07.  Right to Proper Preparation for Participation in Sports

     a.  Tell them what's expected
     b.  Conditioning and skills
     c.  Mental preparation
     d.  Help in setting realistic goals
     e.  Parent responsibilities
     f.  Athletes' obligations
     g.  Proper preparation makes sports more fun

08.  Right to an Equal Opportunity to Strive for Success

     a.  Winning and success are not the same
     b.  Denying the right to strive for success
     c.  Being successful
     d.  Winning is essential for sustaining a child's interest in sport, but success is.

09.  Right to be Treated with Dignity

     a.  Respecting children
     b.  Denying this right
     c.  Intimidation by teammates
     d.  Preserving dignity

10.  Right to Have Fun in Sports

     a.  Hooray for fun

11.  Rights have responsibilities

     a.  Fulfilling the conditions

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0067.  Pitcher injury risk having zero impact on skyrocketing contracts
Bleacher Report
January 21, 2016

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the best team in baseball wouldn't commit anything more than a three-year contract to a starting pitcher. The Toronto Blue Jays lost some pitchers in the early 1990s, but they won back-to-back World Series.

Imagine trying to do that now.

This winter, even average big league starters have routinely signed three-year deals, and anyone slightly better than average qualifies for five years or more. The Blue Jays watched ace left-hander David Price walk away to the Boston Red Sox for seven years and $217 million, and it cost them $36 million over three years to sign J.A. Happ as a sort of replacement.

Pitchers may be more brittle than ever, but they're also more expensive than ever. Just this winter, 16 free-agent starting pitchers have signed multiyear deals, with 10 of them signing for five years or more. Almost all those deals were for huge money.

"Crazy stuff!" one National League general manager said by text message Wednesday.

It may be crazy, but it also seems unavoidable. Unless you're not trying to win or are blessed with five great young (and therefore still cheap) starters, try assembling a competitive rotation without joining the spending spree.

And even if you have that great young rotation, as the New York Mets do, try keeping it together without eventually committing too many years and too many dollars to pitchers who could easily break down.

Paul Beeston, the former Blue Jays president who once had the three-year limit for pitchers and later limited all his free-agent contracts to five years, may well have been prudent. But after those back-to-back championships in 1992-93, the Jays went 22 years without making the playoffs.

Beeston told Canada's Prime Time Sports last month that he wouldn't have gone longer than five years, even for Price. But the Red Sox, looking at an ace-less rotation and three last-place finishes in the last four years, willingly did.

Still, it's not the Price contract that makes this winter different.

Pitchers signed seven-year contracts each of the previous two winters, with Masahiro Tanaka going to the New York Yankees in January 2014 and Max Scherzer signing with the Washington Nationals a year after that. Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, who weren't free agents, also signed for seven years each.

But in the last two winters combined, just three free-agent pitchers (Tanaka, Scherzer and Jon Lester) signed for more than four years. This winter, those long deals went to aces like Price and Zack Greinke, but also to guys like Ian Kennedy, Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija and Wei-Yin Chen.

The Los Angeles Dodgers even gave out an eight-year deal to Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, although it was so loaded with incentives that Maeda is guaranteed just $25 million over the length of the deal. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers were concerned about Maeda's elbow and his ability to stay healthy.

Johnny Cueto's elbow was also supposed to be a concern, but the San Francisco Giants still gave him $130 million over six years—all guaranteed.

The Giants have plenty of experience with big, long contracts, having once given Barry Zito a seven-year, $126 million deal in December 2006 that, at the time, was the biggest ever given to a pitcher. When the Zito deal didn't work out, it seemed to scare the Giants and some other teams away for a while. But eventually the Giants gave six years and $127.5 million to Matt Cain, only to watch him miss large parts of both the 2014 and 2015 seasons because of injury.

Cain, at least for now, hasn't needed Tommy John surgery, which puts a pitcher on the shelf for more than a year. But two pitchers who had signed six-year contracts—Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds—were among the 25 pitchers on major league rosters who needed Tommy John surgery in 2015.

There's risk with any contract, of course. Position players can get injured and can also see big performance declines that turn their long-term deals into albatrosses. But the long-held belief in baseball, one that has proven out over time, is that pitchers are at bigger risk of both.

But executives who don't win are at even bigger risk of losing their jobs, and owners who don't win are at risk of ordering flashy new signings, regardless of the potential cost.

As Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch said after his team committed five years and $110 million to Jordan Zimmermann, via Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press, "It might sound silly, but I don't care about spending money."

It might sound silly to risk so much money on something so fragile as a pitcher's arm, but in today's baseball world, it can sound even sillier to spend money elsewhere and neglect the starting rotation.

As Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal wrote, after the Baltimore Orioles committed more than $200 million to keep Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Darren O'Day and add Mark Trumbo, it won't be worth a thing if they don't top it off by adding a starting pitcher.

"Otherwise," Rosenthal wrote, "Davis will be nothing more than an ornate showpiece, a freak-show, home-run hitting attraction at Camden Yards."

The Orioles, who have made the playoffs just twice in the last 18 years, have been searching for an ace for years. They've tried without success to develop one, haven't been able to trade for one and haven't been willing to pay for one.

So yes, there's a risk your big-money starter gets hurt or fails to perform. You can take that risk or you can take the other one—the risk of going without that starter.

They spend their money, and they cross their fingers. And the pitchers get rich.


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     When professional organizations have no idea how to teach and train baseball pitchers to not only be injury-free, but are able to master the wide variety of high-quality pitches baseball pitchers to succeed against the four types of baseball batters, all teams are able to do is throw money at baseball pitchers that have had some success.

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0068.  Royals sign veteran Moylan to minor league contract
Kansas City Star
January 23, 2016

The Royals added another veteran pitcher to their list of spring training invites, signing right-hander Peter Moylan to a minor-league deal.

Moylan, 37, is a submarine-style reliever who appeared in 22 games last season for the Atlanta Braves, recording a 3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. He had eight strikeouts and zero walks in limited action.

A native of Australia, Moylan returned from a second Tommy John surgery during the 2015 season. He didn’t appear in the big leagues in 2014.

Moylan previously spent seven seasons in the Braves organization, his best season coming in 2009, when he threw a career-high 73 innings while posting a 2.84 ERA.

He is the Royals’ 18th non-roster invitee heading to major-league spring training in February. The list is highlighted by veterans Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang. Gee and Wang, both right-handers who signed minor-league contracts this offseason, are joined by left-handed pitchers David Huff and John Lannan and infielder Cody Decker.


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     The article said:

01. "The Royals signed Peter Moylan to a minor-league deal."
02. "Mr. Moylan is a submarine-style reliever."
03. "Mr. Moylan appeared in 10 1/3 innings in 22 games last season for the Atlanta Braves."
04. "During 2015, Mr. Moylan returned from a second Tommy John surgery." 05. "Mr. Moylan didn’t appear in the big leagues in 2014."
06. "Mr. Moylan spent seven seasons in the Braves organization."

     Why not!

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0069.  After seven surgeries, ex-Blue Jay Litsch taking up coaching challenge
Sportsnet
January 26, 2016

TORONTO – Jesse Litsch underwent seven surgeries in the hopes of rescuing his pitching career. When that didn’t work out, he spent a year in China coaching middle- and high-school aged players. Next up is a stint as pitching coach for Team Philippines in a February World Baseball Classic qualifier.

Beyond that, the former Toronto Blue Jays right-hander is waiting to see where the game takes him.

“I want to coach,” says Litsch. “I feel like I’ve found my niche with older players … when I got the better kids in the bullpen, being able to teach them different pitches, how to control the game, throwing strikes, mechanics. It would be the same things in pro ball.”

First up is the Feb. 11-14 tournament in Sydney, Australia, one of four qualifiers for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Pitted against the host Aussies, New Zealand and South Africa in competition for one berth to the big event, Litsch is realistic about the Philippines’ chances.

There won’t be much prep time for his squad, which will gather in Sydney on Feb. 6 and start practice the next day, but along with manager Tim Hulett, who also skips the single-A Spokane Indians in the Texas Rangers system, he’ll try to help his group buck the odds.

“We’ve got one former big-leaguer, Clay Rapada, he’s going to be our ace, I assume,” Litsch says of the 34-year-old left-hander who pitched last year for triple-A Sacramento in the San Francisco Giants’ system. “I’m going to throw everybody and see what we’ve got.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s not much expectation, but we all know if you have one good pitcher that throws the game of his life, you can win anything.”

Litsch, a 24th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2004, knows all about exceeding expectations. He made his big-league debut at 22 on May 15, 2007, throwing 8.2 innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles, and won 13 games in 2008 before a series of arm injuries derailed his career.

He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009, couldn’t regain past form in 2010 and ’11, had a platelet-rich plasma injection that went wrong in the spring of 2012, and proceeded to have seven different surgeries – including one in which he had bone and cartilage from a cadaver grafted into his shoulder – in an attempt to resume pitching.

“Put forth a good effort,” he says wryly. “Basically, I just rehabbed, rehabbed, rehabbed until I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I tried everything.”

Then came the coaching gig in China.

Hunting around the internet one day, he stumbled across a posting for a baseball instructor in China. Intrigued, he followed up and it turned out to be an opening at one of Major League Baseball’s three development centres in China.

Rick Dell, MLB’s director of game development in Asia, hired him for the job and Litsch was off to Changzhou, an hour train ride outside of Shanghai.

“It’s a small city of 3.8 million,” Litsch quips.

Once there, he had to quickly pick up enough Mandarin to get around and to instruct his pitchers on the field. At the academy, he worked with teenagers of differing talent levels who had left home to pursue baseball while concurrently completing their studies.

“Seeing the love that the kids have for baseball and the camaraderie they develop” was the best part of his experience, Litsch says. “Some kids like the Tibetans only see their family once a year because it’s a 38-hour train ride home. Seeing how they come together, how it becomes one big family – you hear a locker-room is a big family, I saw it there. But we as coaches became parents because we’re seeing them every day. We’re their guardians because if anything happens, they come to us.”

Among the players Litsch worked with is Xu Guiyuan, an outfielder/first baseman who in July became the first player from one of the Chinese development centres to sign a big-league deal, agreeing to a deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

“I was the only one there with professional experience, let alone big-league experience, so it was always, ‘How was it? What do I do?’” recalls Litsch. “I gave him the lowdown on what to expect and what’s going to happen. He got invited to [fall] instructs and the Orioles like him, so he must have done something right.”

During his downtime in China, Litsch and his wife Andrea did some sightseeing, with trips to the Great Wall and Hong Kong among the highlights. Litsch had been to China in 2004 with an American junior college team, but returning at age 30 with a more mature outlook gave him a new appreciation for things.

“It was a culture shock at first but you roll with it,” he says.

Shortly after Litsch returned, Dell contacted him with the offer to help coach Team Philippines and he accepted, even though the qualifier clashes with his annual charity golf tournament in the Tampa Bay area. The seventh edition of his event will go on with Litsch in Australia.

“I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity,” he says.


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     The article said:

01. "Jesse Litsch underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009."
02. "Mr. Litsch could not regain past form in 2010 and 2011."
03. "Mr. Litsch had a platelet-rich plasma injection that went wrong in the spring of 2012."
04. "Mr. Litsch had bone and cartilage from a cadaver grafted into his shoulder."
05. "In total, Mr. Jesse Litsch underwent seven surgeries in the hopes of rescuing his pitching career."

     Much injured baseball pitcher, Jesse Litsch, said:

01. “I want to coach.”
02. “I feel like I’ve found my niche with older players."
03. "I can teach younger pitchers different pitches, how to control the game, throwing strikes, mechanics."
04. "It would be the same things in pro ball.”
05. “I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity.”

     Seven surgeries and Mr. Litsch says that he can teach mechanics.

     When China sees what Mr. Litsch teaches, Mr. Litsch will join the three protestors that China imprisoned for trying to overthrow the government.

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0070.  Ripped the Ulnar Collateral Ligament off the Medial Epicondyle

I heard about this from a coach about a player. I was wondering your thoughts on the following statement and your thoughts on this injury.

Would this be problematic in the future?

He tore the UCL off the bone, didn’t tear the UCL, just ripped it off the humerus.

Had it surgically repaired.


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     This is the only time that I have heard that a baseball pitcher ripped his Ulnar Collateral Ligament off the medial epicondyle of the Humerus bone.

     I assume that the orthopedic surgeon stapled the Ulnar Collateral Ligament back to the medial epicondyle instead of drilling holes and threading a tendon through those holes.

     It would require a severe jolt to rip a ligament out of the bone.

     The stress of contracting causes the tendons of muscles to grow into the outer surface of bones.

     Co-contractions of antagonistic muscles rip the tendons of muscles out of the bone.

     However, ligaments do not contract. Therefore, ligaments cannot grow into the outer surface of bones.

     Typically, the connective tissue fibers of ligaments tear.

     To prevent his surgically repaired Ulnar Collateral Ligament from ripping off the bone, this baseball pitcher needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, February 07, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0071.  Recent bullpen

Ever since I got back home from our Roy Hobbs World Series Championship last November, I have doubled down my personal efforts to train every day and to see exactly, at age 56, what level I am capable of performing. It's been 100 days of wrist weights, 16 lb. iron balls, iron ball wrist flips, bucket lid throws, etc. as well as overall cardio and lower body general fitness routines.

I have been throwing 50 to 60 pitch max intensity bullpens every day. I have tried to throw 100 pitch bullpens, but if I do that I can only do it about 3 days in a row before I have to take off a day. I don't like taking days off. So I can manage the 60 pitch bullpens on a daily basis. I don't know if it's because I still need more conditioning, or because I am just "old". I do know that I am in the best game ready condition and throwing by far the hardest with the most spin on my pitches now, than since I started playing ball again 6 years ago.

At any rate, Eric and I went to the local indoor cage facility a few nights ago so I could throw a full length bullpen. The local high school team happened to be there working out but we were able to get a lane with a mound. I like to "warm up" by throwing about 20 wrist weights and about 40 of the 10 lb. ball flips.

Some of the high school parents were there and one asked what I was doing throwing all the weights. I said I was getting ready to throw a bull pen. He said, "YOU" are going to throw a bull pen? I said, "Sure". It was so much fun! After I started ramping up, jaws were dropping. Parents stood behind my son who was catching me and watching. The coaches and players were watching out of the corners of their eyes when the mitt would pop. Afterward, the parents wanted to know more.

So Eric and I told them our entire "Mike Marshall" story. I told the parents, if they want their sons to be the best, most injury-free pitchers they can be, they need to learn the "Marshall Pitching Model" through my son.

It's odd that if they see Eric throwing in the low to mid 90's they are very impressed, But because he is a 23 year old physically fit young man, I think they almost expect him to throw very hard. He has explained that you are a big reason for his success, but for some reason that fact is only mildly interesting.  It's only after they see his 56 year old father throwing in the 80's, do they sit up and take notice. Then they begin to listen. I suppose because they see other young men throwing 90 plus it's not that rare. But an "old man" who possesses upper level varsity high school stuff? That's different. That gets their attention. So in roads are being made any way we can do it.

I have about 100 more days until my first men's game of the 2016 season. I am anxious to see just what I will be capable of doing on the mound at that time.

As a side note, my son can't even get anyone to catch a bull pen for him. He was throwing to another young man who had spent 3 years in the Cub and Braves minor league systems, and he told me he hates to catch Eric because he throws so hard and the ball moves violently. He called Eric's maxline fastball the "thumb-breaker".  He said it "tails" so hard, it bites all the way into the mitt, and it is very difficult to "pocket" the ball.

You did good Doc.....you did real good!


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     When "traditional' baseball pitching coaches don't train baseball pitchers, those baseball pitchers are able to become the best, injury-free, highly skilled baseball pitchers that they are able to be.

     You prove that 'traditional' baseball pitching coaches are the obstacles.

     We have to find a way to get the 'traditional' baseball pitching coaches to stop destroying young baseball pitchers.

     Between you, Eric and the college baseball pitcher that trained at my house for four days, I have had great fun.

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0072.  Ulnar Flexion

I believe it is your position that pitchers should ulnar flex their wrist when they release curve balls?

The only way a pitcher can truly ulnar flex the release of your curve ball is to have a perfectly neutral wrist.

If the wrist is flexed at all it is impossible to ulnar flex the release.

If the wrist is flexed at all then you can pronate the release but not ulnar flex it.

Do you want true ulnar flexion on the release of your curve ball?

If so, it's a much more difficult pitch.


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     In the Slingshot position for my Maxline Pronation Curve, the pitching upper arm is vertically beside the head with the pitching forearm horizontally pointing toward second base with the back of the pitching hand facing upward with the pitching forearm maximally supinated and maximally radially flexed.

     Therefore, to release my Maxline Pronation Curve, my baseball pitchers have to maximally pronate and maximally ulnarly flex.

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0073.  Pitcher's Arm velocity, Joints

I write for numerous outlets, and wanted to develop a story on pitcher's arms as Baseball's potentially big concussion-esque issues.

I have written for a quality periodical, but have yet to pitch this story.

If we can get into some of the science of the issue, and I can talk to multiple sources (I might have inroads to speak to retired pitchers) I think that, at least, my quality periodical would be interested in a story on the topic of your book.


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     I don't know how many types of pitching injuries that the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion causes that you want me to explain.

     The 'traditional' baseball pitching motion destroys the pitching elbow, the pitching shoulder, the pitching knee and the lower back just for a start.

     However, rather than bombard you with too much too soon, I will start that most insidious pitching injury of all baseball injuries.

     Fortunately, all pitching injuries are very simple to prevent and simple to increase release velocity and consistency.

01. When baseball pitchers release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger, they bang the olecranon process of the Ulna bone (one of the two bones in the pitching forearm) into their olecranon fossa of their Humerus bone (the bone of the pitching upper arm.)

     Banging these bones together causes the hyaline cartilage of the olecranon fossa to calcify such that baseball pitchers cannot fully extend their pitching elbow (lose their extension range of motion), rip pieces of hyaline cartilage off the olecranon fossa that cause bone spurs to grow through these openings in the hyaline cartilage.

     An unknown fact about releasing breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger is that the Brachialis muscle reflexively tries to prevent banging the bones in the back of their pitching elbow) contracts (eccentrically-the muscle contracts, but the force causes the muscle to get longer) to prevent their olecranon process from banging into their olecranon fossa.

     Lengthening the coronoid process of their Ulna bone prevents baseball pitchers from fully bending their pitching elbow.

     After my 1967 season with the Detroit Tigers, I found that I could not fully straighten or fully bend my pitching elbow. X-rays of my pitching elbow showed that I lost depth in my olecranon fossa and lengthened my coronoid process.

     When 'traditional' baseball pitchers release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger, they rotate their Radius bone outwardly or, in kinesiological terminology, supinated the Radius bone. When baseball pitchers supinate their pitching forearm, they point the thumb of their pitching hand upward.

     To experience what 'traditional' baseball pitchers feel when they supinate their pitching forearm:

01. Raise your pitching elbow to shoulder height with your pitching forearm horizontally behind the pitching elbow and the thumb of your pitching hand pointing upward.

02. Now, drive your pitching hand toward home plate as you would release a breaking pitches over the top of your Index finger.

     Since 1967, I have explained that, instead of releasing their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger, baseball pitchers have to release their breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger such that the thumb of their pitching hand points downward.

     The Pronator Teres muscle rotates the Radius bone inwardly or, in kinesiological terminology, pronated their Radius bone.

     Because the Pronator Teres muscle arises from the medial epicondyle of the Humerus bone, that is above the pitching elbow, the Pronator Teres muscle does not just inwardly rotate the Radius bone, it also flexes the pitching elbow.

     Flexing the pitching elbow prevents the olecranon process from banging into the olecranon fossa.

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0074.  Arms plentiful as Texas opens up baseball season
Hookem.com
January 29, 2016

Another Texas baseball season brings another loaded pitching staff.

Before the first practice of the year got underway Monday, much of the chatter centered on a group of pitchers that is so deep that no one appears concerned about who’s not coming back.

And here’s a sampling of who’s not coming back:

Chad Hollingsworth, unable to make a full recovery from shoulder surgery, is retiring from baseball, according to Longhorns coach Augie Garrido. When healthy, he was among the team’s top options in 2015.

Kacy Clemens has made a full recovery from an elbow injury, but he’s settling in at first base for the time being and is not a serious contender for a spot in the rotation.

Friday night starter Parker French and left-handed reliever Kirby Bellow ran out of eligibility after last year and are now playing with Major League organizations.

Yet the focus is not on those who are gone, but on those who are returning.

“I can name off eight guys right now that could go out there and start for any team in the country,” left-hander Josh Sawyer said. “And I could name multiple guys who could go out and close for any team in the country.”

Sawyer, who is hoping to bounce back from a shaky season in which he was demoted to midweek starter and then to the bullpen, is among four pitchers Garrido singled out for a potential starting role. The others are three sophomores: Connor Mayes and Kyle Johnston, who each bounced around before finding their niches as starters for the Big 12 tournament, and Morgan Cooper, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2014, Cooper was named second-team freshman All-American by Perfect Game.

“If we have a bunch of (talented pitchers), it makes for tough competition, but competition’s tough in the Big 12 anyway,” Cooper said.

Also pushing for spots are freshmen Nolan Kingham (Las Vegas) and Chase Shugart (Bridge City). Catcher Michael Cantu said Kingham has “a lot of life” in his fastball. Shugart reminds Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson of former Longhorn Chance Ruffin in his determination to “attack, attack, attack.”

“If he has that same career, it’s going to be fun to be around,” Johnson said.

And don’t forget about Ty Culbreth. The left-handed senior, who spent most of last season in the bullpen, started and recorded a complete-game victory over Baylor in the Big 12 tournament.

Hollingsworth calls it quits: Rest didn’t help Hollingsworth’s injured shoulder and neither did surgery. Consequently, he’s quitting the sport before his senior season and turning his focus to earning his degree. Hollingsworth, who began last season in the weekend rotation, was injured in early April, and the velocity on his fastball never fully returned.

“He’s been my best friend for two years now,” Sawyer said. “He understands he can’t throw anymore, but he’ll be here every day cheering us on.”


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     Texas University head baseball coach, Augie Garrido, and Texas University pitching coach, Skip Johnson, should be ashamed and resign.

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0075.  Mariners' Paxton says he can remain healthy this year
The Olympian
January 31, 2016

SEATTLE, WA:

Left-handed pitcher James Paxton walked into the interview area at Safeco Field this weekend when the Mariners held their annual FanFest — and the first question was easy: “Where’s the rest of you?”

Paxton, now 27, is down 20 pounds or more since he ended last season relegated again to inactivity due to the latest in a series of odd and often baffling injuries.

“(The weight loss) was a little bit planned,” he said. “Rick (Griffin, the head trainer) talked to me about losing 10 pounds or so. I did a little bit more than that. So I’m feeling really good and ready to go.

“I’m about 220, down from 240-ish. When I came in (as a rookie), I was right about 215-200. That’s about where I’m at right now. I kind of hover between 215 and 220.”

The overriding hope is a leaner Paxton is a more-athletic Paxton and less susceptible to what he terms “weird injuries” after pitching less than 75 innings in each of the past two seasons.

“I think it’s time for me to show that I can last an entire an entire season,” he acknowledged. “Knock on wood. Hopefully, I’m done with those (injuries) and can just move forward.”

But Paxton’s tone sharpens when asked for his response to those who contend his history shows he simply can’t remain healthy.

“I’d say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ ” he countered. “I can’t control a finger injury. It’s not like I’ve blown out my elbow or shoulder. It’s not because I don’t work out or work hard.

“I’m just going to go out there and do what I do and trust that the work that I’ve done is going to keep me healthy.”

It’s a defensible point.

Paxton missed four months in 2014 because of a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle in his back. (Hisashi Iwakuma missed more than two months last season with a similar injury.)

“I think that injury, my lat, was because I was working out too hard,” Paxton said. “I think I needed to draw back a little bit once the season started. I’ve learned that.

“With the training staff, I’ve made the adjustments necessary for that not to happen. But as far as the finger stuff, I feel like that’s just a fluke thing. Just bad luck.”

Maybe so.

Paxton missed time last spring when he bruised both forearms after stumbling to the ground during an agility drill. He recovered in time to begin the season in the rotation and made 10 starts before suffering a strained tendon in his middle finger.

The finger injury healed slowly because of its location. Efforts to accelerate the process by using paraffin wax, Paxton believes, prompted September problems with a blister and a torn nail on the same finger.

“It just softened my skin up so much,” he said, “that when I started putting all of that pressure on it, (the nail) just lifted up.”

That troublesome nail provided a possible benefit when Paxton returned to action in the Arizona Fall League as a way to log some innings. He was only permitted to throw fastballs and changeups. No breaking balls on the still-tender finger.

Paxton sharpened his changeup and began working with minor-league pitching coach Rich Dorman on a high fastball.

“Guys were always looking down in the zone for me,” Paxton said, “because I have that (12-to-6) angle. But when I change the angle, and have a high fastball, they can’t cheat down there all of the time. It makes it a lot harder for them.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to work on that in spring training.”

The main thing, Paxton said, is he’s healthy. And when healthy in the past, he often performed like a top-of-the rotation starter. Paxton is 12-8 in his career with a 3.16 ERA in 30 starts over the past three seasons.

Some perspective: A year ago, only five American League pitchers had better marks than 3.16 while pitching the 162 or more innings necessary to qualify for the ERA title.

“James Paxton has shown that he’s capable of being (dominant) when he’s out on the mound,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “We need to make sure he’s out on the mound.”

Simply put, though, the Mariners’ new administration isn’t willing to bank on a healthy Paxton — or even guarantee that a healthy Paxton will open the season in the rotation.

“I think there’s going to be a great competition for the fifth spot in our starting rotation,” Dipoto said, “and I think we have, minimally, six and perhaps up to eight or nine legitimate candidates.

“The fact that our fifth or sixth starter may be physically as gifted as most people’s two or three. I think that’s exciting to me.”

Let’s break that down.

Longtime ace Felix Hernandez isn’t going to be fighting this spring for a job. Barring injuries, veterans Hisashi Iwakuma and Wade Miley are also locks because of their contracts (guarantees of $12 million and $6.167 million in 2016).

That leaves Paxton, Taijuan Walker and newcomer Nathan Karns in a battle for two spots. All three have options — meaning they can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers — and none are likely to make more than $525,000.

But don’t think all three are viewed evenly as the Feb. 19 start of spring camp approaches. Dipoto began gushing over Walker’s potential when hired Sept. 29 as the club’s new general manager.

“Right now, going in,” Dipoto said, “Taijuan Walker made great progress over the last half, even last two-thirds of last year. I think you started to see some of what he was capable of, and we want to see him take one of those jobs.”

That doesn’t mean Walker couldn’t pitch his way out of the rotation, but it seems to position Paxton and Karns are the likely candidates for the final spot. Karns, 28, was 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA last season at Tampa Bay.

“It’s going to be a competitive thing,” Paxton agreed, “but that’s what baseball is. Nobody said it was going to be easy. I’m looking forward to the competition.

“I’m just going to go out there and do the same thing I do no matter what the circumstances: That’s just compete to the best of my ability.”

That starts with being healthy and, right now, Paxton is healthy.

“I don’t want to talk about injuries anymore,” he said. “I just want to talk about baseball. Hopefully, this year it will be all about winning games and not `when are you coming back?’”


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     The article said:

01. "In 2014, James Paxton missed four months with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle in his back."
02. "Last spring, Mr. Paxton missed time last spring when he bruised both forearms after stumbling to the ground during an agility drill."
03. "Mr. Paxton made 10 starts before suffering a strained tendon in his middle finger."
04. "Mr. Paxton's finger injury healed slowly."
05. "Efforts to accelerate the process by using paraffin wax prompted September problems with a blister and a torn nail on the same finger."

     Mr. Paxton needs to do my Middle Fingertip Spins drill.

     To prevent blisters and torn nails, Mr. Paxton needs to use skin softeners and keep the Middle finger nail even with the end of the finger with his mother's fingernail file.

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0076.  Biddle says he pitched through elbow pain
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 31, 2016

Jesse Biddle had just finished getting a haircut at his favorite barber shop in Mount Airy on Friday afternoon when a two-word text message from Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock popped up on his phone.

Call me.

The pitcher the Phillies selected in the first round of the 2010 draft knew bad news probably awaited him. Still, it jolted him.

"Yeah, in a lot of ways it did," Biddle said Sunday during a telephone interview. "I think in the back of my head I was always a little worried about it because this is not a good time to be hurt when the organization is obviously making a lot of moves to get younger by picking up a lot of prospects. It's not a great time to be unable to contribute anything."

There is no good time to be told that your next season is over before it has begun. That, however, was a reality for Biddle even before Proefrock informed him that the Phillies had designated the 24-year-old lefthander for assignment.

October surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow represented the perfectly rotten ending to a second straight difficult year for the former Germantown Friends phenom. Until he reached double-A Reading in 2013, Biddle appeared to be on a straight path to the big leagues in the city where he grew up rooting for all the local teams.

Biddle, in fact, can point out exactly where he was sitting in a giant panoramic photograph that captures the joy inside Citizens Bank Park when Brad Lidge recorded the final out of the 2008 World Series. His big-league dream was to pitch off that same mound in a Phillies uniform, but now he does not know if that will ever happen.

He'll spend this week waiting to see if another team claims him off waivers, an improbable scenario given his struggles over the last two seasons and the fact that he will not be able to pitch again until 2017. Given his upside, on the other hand, it's a risk some team might be willing to take.

As much as Friday's news initially hurt Biddle, he quickly put it in perspective.

"It hurts, but I'm not stupid," he said. "I was not going to be able to help the team the entire year. I totally understand. I haven't really performed consistently the last couple years and nobody understands that better or is more frustrated about that than I am."

Biddle definitely is not stupid, but by his own admission he has done some questionable things during his star-crossed attempt to pitch in the big leagues for his hometown team. His most recent judgment might have been his worst.

After just two winter ball outings in Puerto Rico after the 2014 season, Biddle returned home with elbow soreness and was examined by team physician Michael Ciccotti. He was cleared to pitch again at the start of the 2015 season, which like the previous two began at double-A Reading.

The numbers were OK for much of his time at Reading, but his strikeouts were down and his command was spotty. The Phillies, nevertheless, promoted him to triple-A Lehigh Valley, where his season had a disastrous ending. He went 0-4 with an 8.03 ERA in his final five starts and no matter what numbers you looked at, they were all eyesores.

Biddle had foolishly pitched through elbow pain for much of the season.

"I guess at the time I didn't really know what it felt like to have serious ligament damage in your elbow," he said. "I didn't really know what was safe and what was unsafe. It turns out I was pitching with ligament damage for a good part of the year.

"I was making a really bullheaded decision to continue to pitch. My velocity kept going lower and lower and I was not making a mature decision. I was being really stubborn and it was completely my fault."

His reason for doing it?

"The feeling like I was close" to the big leagues, he said. "I thought I just needed to string together some really good starts. But by the end of the season I was just worn out. But I made the choice to go out there and pitch and that's what is on the back of my baseball card. It was my decision."

And now he is off the Phillies' 40-man roster and at least temporarily in limbo.

He said Proefrock told him that the Phillies still think a lot of him, but there's no denying that Biddle's days as a top prospect have passed and now he has a fight on his hands to achieve the big-league potential that looked so obvious just a few short years ago.

"It was a tough pill to swallow at first, but it's really just more fuel to the fire," Biddle said. "It's an opportunity for me to prove some people wrong and continue to try to get better. It's motivation, that's all it is. I don't have any doubt in my ability or that I am going to come back from this surgery with a new elbow and a new arm. I'm excited about that part."

He's not so excited about missing a season or the waiting and wondering where he will pitch next. Another curveball has come his way and it's every bit as nasty as the one that he used to use to embarrass hitters.


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     The article said:

01. "In 2013, until Mr. Biddle reached double-A Reading, Mr. Biddle appeared on a straight path to the big leagues."
02. "In 2014, after just two winter ball outings in Puerto Rico, Mr. Biddle returned home with elbow soreness."
03. "At the start of 2015, Mr. Biddle was was cleared to pitch again at the start of the 2015 season."
04. "The numbers were OK for much of his time at Reading."
05. "However, Mr. Biddle's strikeouts were down and his command was spotty."
06. "Nevertheless, the Phillies promoted Mr. Biddle to triple-A Lehigh Valley."
07. "Mr. Biddle went 0-4 with an 8.03 ERA in his final five starts."
08. "For much of the season, Mr. Biddle foolishly pitched through elbow pain.
09. "Last October, Jesse Biddle had surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament."

     Sounds to me that the Phillies have no idea how to teach and train baseball pitchers.

     As a result, to place the problem on Mr. Biddle, the Phillies promoted Mr. Biddle to Triple-A.

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0077.  Who can White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper save this season
TodaysKnuckleball.com
February 01, 2016

The White Sox are adrift in what’s suddenly become one of baseball’s most difficult divisions—the Royals are the defending champs; the Tigers have immense financial might, which afforded them Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann; the Twins have Sano, Buxton and more reinforcements on the way; and the Indians just called up Francisco Lindor, who might already be the best position player in the league.

The White Sox certainly don’t want for star power, not with Chris Sale and Jose Abreu on board, but they’ve finished within 15 games of the division lead once in the past five seasons. Not counting Todd Frazier, their biggest offseason acquisition is Brett Lawrie, the onetime enfant terrible of Toronto, who has just kind of been mediocre since 2013.

But in pitching coach Don Cooper, the White Sox have a weapon. The “miracle worker” pitching coach—Cleveland’s Mickey Callaway, Pittsburgh’s Ray Searage, New York’s Dan Warthen—has become almost commonplace, but Cooper’s one of the originals.

Give him a post-hype sleeper with a bum shoulder and a track record of failure and he’ll give you Phillip Humber’s perfect game or four years of Gavin Floyd pitching 200 league-average innings a year. Give him a fast-rising college pitcher with some real stuff and he’ll give you Chris Sale (and, White Sox fans hope, eventually Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer).

So who among White Sox pitchers is up for a second chance? Who will be the lump of clay from which Cooper molds his next colossus?

One option is Jacob Turner. Turner was once a celebrated prospect, a No. 9 overall pick who reached the majors by age 20 and was the centerpiece of the trade that brought Anibal Sanchez to Detroit. Ordinarily, just getting to the big leagues that young, and having even a modicum of success against major league hitters, is a good indicator of future success. But Turner developed a few crippling disorders. The first is Rick Porcello’s Disease, which is an affliction in which Detroit Tigers first-rounders get to the big leagues young and then can’t figure out how to get swings and misses once they get there.

The other ailments that afflict Turner are physical. It’s generally bad, but not fatal, for a pitcher to injure his elbow, and it’s generally career-threatening if a pitcher suffers a serious shoulder injury. So just to make sure, Turner missed time last year with both, throwing only nine minor-league innings.

The White Sox are his fourth organization in five years, and they’re clearly at least somewhat committed to him—their $1.5 million offer after claiming him off waivers in October isn’t an enormous commitment by modern standards, but it’s not nothing. You don’t give a guaranteed contract to a pitcher you’re going to discard in March.

What Turner needs, in addition to a clean bill of health, is an out pitch, or at least something to generate swings and misses. A look at his Pitch f/x profile reveals that the last time he was in the majors, he threw five different pitches, including three fastballs if you count his cutter. Cooper has a track record not only of teaching the cutter, but of ringing innings out of pitches whose arms seemed not to have any innings left in them, so maybe a simplified arsenal and a slow ramp-up back to a full workload will turn Turner back into the pitcher he was supposed to be.

A more ambitious project would be Phillippe Aumont. Aumont is a 6-foot-7, 260-pound reliever for whom stuff has never been the problem. His stuff—a high-90s fastball with so much late life Dame Judi Dench is playing it in a movie, as well as a brainfreeze-inducing curveball—got him drafted No. 11 overall in 2007 and added to the Canadian World Baseball Classic team in 2009, where he burst onto the scene using the aforementioned power curve to scythe through the American lineup. Those tools made him the centerpiece of the trade that brought Cliff Lee to Seattle, and upon his arrival in the majors Aumont promptly forgot how to throw strikes.

In four years in Philadelphia, Aumont threw 43.2 major league innings, and though he struck out 42, he walked 34, which is why he’s a non-roster invitee in White Sox camp.

Aumont’s struggles with command stem from the simple fact that it’s hard to get large things to make fine adjustments. With so many moving parts to a delivery, pinpoint command is the result of a repeated neurological and physical process of incredible precision, which is easy for smaller men with good balance and flexibility, but for large, lumbering men like Aumont, getting leverage on a fastball is easy—putting it over the corner, as opposed to the heart of the plate or, more commonly, the backstop, is harder.

Which is a shame, because Aumont’s got truly remarkable stuff. Maybe he is, in fact, irretrievable, and there’s no tweak or process that could get him to throw strikes. But until Aumont spends some time in the hands of the coach who rescued Bobby Jenks from a similar predicament, we’ll never know for sure.


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     The article said:

01. "In pitching coach Don Cooper, the White Sox have a weapon."
02. "The “miracle worker” pitching coach—Cleveland’s Mickey Callaway, Pittsburgh’s Ray Searage, New York’s Dan Warthen—has become almost commonplace, but Cooper’s one of the originals."
03. "Give Mr. Cooper a post-hype sleeper with a bum shoulder and a track record of failure and he’ll give you Phillip Humber’s perfect game or four years of Gavin Floyd pitching 200 league-average innings a year."
04. "Give him a fast-rising college pitcher with some real stuff and he’ll give you Chris Sale (and, White Sox fans hope, eventually Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer)."
05. "The White Sox certainly don’t want for star power."
06. "But, the White Sox have finished within 15 games of the division lead once in the past five seasons."

     A pitching coach that builds pitching staffs unable to finish within 15 games of the division lead should not coach baseball pitchers.

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0078.  Foltynewicz continues recovery from blood clots
Savannah Morning News
February 01, 2016

ATLANTA, GA: Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz said Monday that he hopes to be cleared this week to throw off a mound as he continues his recovery from life-threatening blood clots in his right shoulder.

Foltynewicz said Monday he has lost about 20 pounds since surgery to remove part of a rib under the shoulder. His 2015 season ended in September when the blood clots were discovered and he was placed on blood-thinning medicine.

Even if he is taken off the medication this week and given clearance to start throwing off a mound, Foltynewicz could have difficulty being ready for the start of the season. He said he is about two weeks behind other pitchers in his throwing program.

Foltynewicz said he learned his condition is not unusual for athletes.

“They said it happens a lot because you build your shoulder muscles up so much ... it just crushes the blood vessels,” he said.

“Luckily they found it. It was life-threatening. I could have had a stroke on the airplane on the next trip. It was kind of scary to go through.”

He said surgeons removed half of the rib under the shoulder.

The 6-foot-5 Foltynewicz said he now weighs 209 pounds, down from 226. He looked noticeably thinner as he spoke with reporters at the Turner Field clubhouse following a workout. He said he threw from about 120 feet on Monday and is behind other pitchers who already are throwing off a mound.

He won’t be cleared to start throwing at full strength until he is taken off the blood thinners.

“Knock on wood, I’m not that far pushed back,” he said. “It might be a couple weeks.”

Foltynewicz, 24, is one of several candidates for one of the last two spots in Atlanta’s rotation behind Julio Teheran, Bud Norris and Matt Wisler.

“For everybody else, let’s see what happens,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez on Saturday. “... I feel we have a lot of candidates.”

Among others expected to compete for rotation spots: Williams Perez, Manny Banuelos, Ryan Weber, former Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, former Phillies and Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick and rookies Tyrell Jenkins, Sean Newcomb and Aaron Blair. Newcomb and Blair were big names added in offseason deals that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Angels and Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks, respectively.

The Braves’ push to add young pitching may make it more difficult for Foltynewicz to keep pace, especially as he works to regain strength he lost during his period of inactivity following the surgery.

“Trying to get it back is tough,” he said, adding his weight loss makes him feel “all my hard work is out the door.”

The hard-throwing Foltynewicz was 4-6 with a 5.71 ERA in 18 games, including 15 starts, in 2015.

He was traded to the Braves on Jan. 14, 2015 as part of the deal that sent catcher-outfielder Evan Gattis to Houston.

Foltynewicz was a first-round pick by the Astros in 2010.


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     The article said:

01. "Last September, the Braves Medical Staff discovered blood clots in Mr. Foltynewicz's pitching arm.
02. "Mr. Foltynewicz was placed on blood-thinning medicine.
03. "Mr. Foltynewicz had surgery to remove part of a rib under the shoulder."
04. "Mr. Foltynewicz continues his recovery from life-threatening blood clots."
05. "Mike Foltynewicz hopes to be cleared this week to throw off a mound."

     Compression of the Subclavian vein causes slow blood flow.

     Slow blood flow can cause blood clots.

     To prevent compression of the Subclavian vein, Mr. Foltynewicz needs to use his Latissimus Dorsi muscle to drive his pitching arm down his acromial line.

     This means that Mr. Foltynewicz needs to turn the back of his pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot.

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0079.  Buchholz reveals latest plan to finally reach 200 innings
WEEI.com
February 03, 2016

FORT MYERS, FL: After spending Wednesday morning executing a light game of catch with Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz sat down for an episode of the Bradfo Show podcast to catch up.

As he pointed out, for about nine years running the first question in these sort of early-February interviews start with an update regarding his weight. (For what it’s worth, the right-handers frame does look a bit sturdier when we last saw him.)

The next topic? Is Buchholz going to pitch 200 innings?

The closest the 31 year old has come to the coveted milestone came in 2012, when he totaled 189 1/3 innings. But since then the totals have been 108 1/3 innings in 2013, 170 1/3 a year later, and the 113 1/3 innings he put in last season before succumbing to an elbow injury in early July.

The last couple of years coming in my body felt good. It’s been around the All-Star break where something unfortunate happens,” Buchholz said. “Given the way it was going last year, up until that point, I was one of those runs you like to be on with your starting pitcher. Go deep into games, given your team a chance to win, not give up a whole lot of home runs, making guys earn their way on base. That’s the mental side of it. You’re out there, feeling really good and then you have something set you back and you have to learn how to handle that.

Over the last couple of years I’ve learned the only thing I can do about it is try and keep that from happening. That has been sort of the question mark, even for myself because there’s nobody who wants to be on the mound more than I do during a season because it really stinks sitting on the bench, especially when the team isn’t doing as good as everybody hoped for or how they thought they were going to do and you have nothing to do with it. That’s a pretty rough patch for me to not have anything to do with the team winning or losing.

“It’s just one of those things where I felt like I put myself in a good spot. As I’m getting older now I feel like there’s some switches I can make with the program we do out here and how I go about the workout routine and program. Hopefully put our heads together this year and find the ingredients for that to happen.”

The most notable “switch” Buchholz has implemented has come courtesy at least partially due the advice of one of his former teammates, Cubs pitcher John Lackey.

Buchholz is entering his time at JetBlue Park without having thrown any bullpen sessions, which is a big difference from a year ago when he came to town having four or five bullpens under his belt.

“In my mind I was thinking I was trying it a little bit different this year,” he explained. “Instead of ramping up and throwing bullpens in the offseason I’m going to get to camp around the first or second. I knew Porcello was going to be here, and I knew a couple of catchers were going to be here, too. Given our reporting date is the 18th for pitchers and catchers I can throw the same amount of bullpens being here rather than being in Texas and not being around any of the guys. I felt like this route was going to work well for me this year.

“I tried to pick a lot of guys brains. I work out with John Lackey in the offseason and he’s found his niche as far as how he goes about what he does in the offseason going into camp. We played catch for about the last month. He might throw a couple of bullpens before camp, but at this point and time he hasn’t thrown any either and he sort of eases his way into it. That was the approach I sort of thinking about taking. I talked to Johnny Farrell about it over the phone, and they were a little bit worried me coming into camp without throwing.

“Two and a half weeks from right now to throw my four or five bullpens. I can throw one every three days and it puts me on track. I can throw to Vazqy, and get reacquainted with him. I don’t feel like it’s a different route, it just started at a different time.”

The throwing program wasn’t the only change. After meeting with Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski before heading to Texas for the offseason, Buchholz received some guidelines in terms the organization’s expectations/suggestions.

“I sat down and talked to Dave before the season was over. It’s pretty much black and white what he was talking about,” Buchholz said. “When I sat down and talked to Dave it was more so of knowing what I had to do going into the offseason, taking the right amount of time off, being pretty strict on the workouts five days a week, and that’s what I did. I feel like I got stronger in a couple of different ways that I wasn’t the last couple of years. It was a good offseason for me. The one thing that was different this year is that I focused more on legs this year than I have the last four or five years. I feel like everything comes from the ground up. If my legs are in shape I don’t have to worry about my legs giving out in the first couple of bullpen. I just have to worry about arm strength, and that’s a good thing.”


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     After meeting with Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski before heading to Texas for the offseason, Buchholz received some guidelines in terms the organization’s expectations/suggestions:

01. “I sat down and talked to Dave before the season was over."
02. "It’s pretty much black and white what he was talking about.”
03. “When I sat down and talked to Dave it was more so of knowing what I had to do going into the offseason."
04. "Taking the right amount of time off."
05. "Being pretty strict on the workouts five days a week."
06. "That’s what I did."
07. "I feel like I got stronger in a couple of different ways that I wasn’t the last couple of years."
08. "It was a good offseason for me."
09. "The one thing that was different this year is that I focused more on legs this year than I have the last four or five years."
10. "I feel like everything comes from the ground up."
11. "If my legs are in shape I don’t have to worry about my legs giving out in the first couple of bullpen."
12. "I just have to worry about arm strength, and that’s a good thing.”

     Five workuts a week is two workouts short.

     The only workouts that baseball pitchers should use in the off-season is my wrist weight exercises, heavy ball throws, Lid throws, football throws and baseball pitches. Otherwise, they gain nothing.

     Strength in the legs help only when baseball pitchers rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

     The only way baseball pitchers are able to maximize their pitching arm strength is to turn the back of the pitching upper arm to face toward home plate.

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0080.  Maine high school baseball moving toward pitch count restrictions
Bangor Daily News
February 03, 2016

AUGUSTA, ME: Momentum to bring pitch-count restrictions to Maine high school baseball is growing.

The baseball committee of the Maine Principals’ Association discussed the use of pitch counts during its winter meeting Tuesday, and while nothing will change for the 2016 season, all signs indicate that adoption of the practice statewide is inevitable at all levels of high school baseball.

“It’s something that’s being talked about a lot nationally,” said Brewer High School athletic administrator Dave Utterback, a former high school and Senior League baseball coach who serves on the MPA’s baseball panel.

“I think it’s just a thought process where you get away from the innings-pitched mentality to get into some of these scientifically backed philosophies about the number of pitches a kid can make healthfully. It’s a different way of trying to manage young pitchers and their shoulders and their elbows.”

Most states, including Maine, currently place limits on the number of innings a high school pitcher can work during a given timespan. MPA policy says a player who pitches four or more innings in one day may not pitch again until after three calendar days have elapsed, while those who pitch more than one inning and less than four innings in a day may not pitch again until at least one calendar day has expired.

Proponents of using a pitch count rather than innings pitched say a pitch count provides a more precise numerical measurement of arm use, given that one inning could involve an indefinite number of pitches.

“I think the pitching restrictions and the pitching rules that are currently in place came about because we saw injuries and overuse,” said MPA assistant executive director Mike Burnham. “Now it’s just continuing to progress and some of the rules aren’t protecting them enough and we need to start monitoring how many pitches are being thrown.”

With more sports medicine information available to better determine the impact of pitching on a player’s arm, elbow and shoulder, the use of pitch counts already is prevalent in youth baseball.

Little League Baseball employs pitch-count restrictions in all of its age divisions, including the Senior League (ages 14-16) level that stages its annual World Series at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor each summer.

When Senior League Baseball switched from innings pitched to pitch-count restrictions several years ago, the Mansfield Stadium scoreboard was adapted to display the pitch count for each team’s hurler working in a game at a given time, according to SLWS executive director Mike Brooker. A new scoreboard installed at the venue in 2014 also features display space for pitch counts.

“I think the pitch count is preferable to the innings, personally,” said Utterback, who coached the Bangor Senior League World Series entry in 2002 and 2004, before the pitch-count rule was adopted. “I think that has the best interest of the student-athlete in mind when you’re thinking about the actual number of times the arm is engaged in that activity or that motion. I think that’s the way to do it.

“In my own experience, we always tracked where our kids were with pitch counts in a game.”

At least three states have approved the use of pitch counts at the high school level, with Delaware and Vermont already employing such restrictions, while the Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control unanimously voted last fall to change its baseball pitching rule from innings pitched to a pitch count beginning with the 2017 season.

USA Baseball has published recommended pitch-count restrictions for various age groups, with guidelines for ages 15-18 requiring no calendar days of rest for 0 to 30 pitches in a day, one day of rest for 31-45 pitches, two days of rest for 46-60 pitches, three days of rest for 61-75 pitches and four days of rest for 76 or more pitches, with per day limits of 95 pitches for 15- and 16-year-olds and 105 pitches for 17- and 18-year-olds.

In Vermont, the standards are slightly different, including single-game maximums of 120 pitches at the varsity level and 110 for the junior varsity and freshman levels.

Additional Vermont standards at the varsity level require no days rest for 1-25 pitches in a day, one calendar day of rest for 26-50 pitches, two days of rest for 51-75 pitches and three days of rest for 76 or more pitches.

The MPA’s baseball bulletin currently includes an advisory that recommends coaches remove a pitcher from the mound once he reaches 90 to 100 pitches.

Burnham said any pitch-count restrictions used for Maine high school baseball would be developed in conjunction with the MPA’s sports medicine committee. Dr. William M. Heinz, a liaison to the sports medicine panel, currently chairs the sports medicine advisory committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations.

“We know these discussions are taking place at the national level,” said Burnham. “We know that the potential for a pitch-count rule to be implemented through the rulebook is there, so we want to take our time and let that play through as we’re developing our own policies here in the state.”

One issue separate from any potential numerical limits on pitchers involves how pitch counts would be tabulated during games and then reported for future reference regarding a pitcher’s eligibility to return to the mound.

“I think the committee and most people would recognize that there’s got to be a better way to manage your pitchers,” said Utterback, “but the implementation is where we’ve hit a roadblock. Who’s going to track it and and how do you verify that Coach A has the same count as Coach B on the other side of the field? Who’s ultimately responsible for verifying that that’s the accurate count and keeps track of it for your next game?

“Those are some of the things that need to be worked out before we move forward with any clear-cut, definitive proposal.”

The MPA plans to pilot a pitch-count program at all high school baseball levels this spring — not for immediate implementation but in order to help develop the most efficient way of tabulating pitches and tracking subsequent eligibility.

“There’s nothing official being done with pitch counts for this year,” said Burnham, “but what we would ask all schools to do starting this year is to start tracking pitch counts and getting used to coordinating with the other book. In other words, train your people who are doing it for the coming year without there being any actual restrictions, provide us with some feedback after the season or even during the season, and then if we’re going to move forward with a pitch count it would be a proposal that could be brought forward next fall.”


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     Pitch count does not prevent pitching arm injuries.

     Using the Latissimus Dorsi muscle to drive the pitching upper arm (shoulder) in straight lines toward home plate.

     Releasing breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of the Middle finger will prevent pitching elbow injuries.

     In simple words, mis-using, not over-using the pitching arm ('traditional' baseball pitching motion) causes pitching arm injuries.

     With my baseball pitching motion, over-use means muscle contraction fatigue, not injuries .

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0081.  Forearm perpendicular to driveline position

In Q# 57, you wrote:

"When the pitching forearm is perpendicular to the driveline toward home plate, my baseball pitchers start the explosive extension of the pitching elbow."

At 1:35 of the Jeff Sparks video, we see Jeff's forearm perpendicular to his driveline behind his shoulder.

Is this what you were referring to?

I am embedding a pic but I'm not sure it will come over to you.


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     Nope.

     The still shot shows Jeff moving his pitching upper arm forward. Next you will see Jeff moving his pitching upper arm upward. Lastly, you will see Jeff moving his pitching elbow inward.

     After Jeff rotates his hips and shoulders forward together and has stopped the forward movement of his pitching elbow, we will see Jeff start to inwardly rotate his pitching upper arm.

     When Jeff’s pitching forearm is perpendicular to the driveline, Jeff will start to extend his pitching elbow. Don’t let the fact that Jeff’s pitching forearm moves to vertical fool you.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, February 14, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0082.  Interesting fact

Our youngest son, who was with us when we visited you the first time about 3 years ago, is now studying for his Athletic Training Degree at an University.

One of his classes this semester is Kinesiology.

He told us that the very first day he walked into class, his professor had a photo of you up on the wall. He asked if anyone in the class had heard of Dr. Mike Marshall.

My son surprised him by telling him not only had he heard of you, but he had spent time with you at your training facility, and he and his brother and father all use your training and throwing techniques to throw baseballs.

He said the professor was speechless.

He said his professor asked him if your techniques worked." My son said yes, they work very well.

He really likes his kinesiology class.


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     Great story.

     Now, we need your son to explain what the Latissimus Dorsi muscle does that the Pectoralis Major muscle cannot do.

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0083.  Fastball Index and Thumb Grip

What is the correct amount of space between the cup of the hand (the skin between the index and thumb) and the ball for a fastball?


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     First, let me explain what the Index and Middle fingers do with my Maxline and Torque fastballs.

     With my Maxline fastball, my baseball pitchers place the pad of the tip of the Middle finger in the middle of either the four and two-seams. Then, when they release my Maxline fastball, they turn the circle of friction, either the small circle for the four-seam or the large circle for the two-seam, to the glove arm side of the baseball. The purpose of turning the circle of friction to the glove arm side of the baseball is to have the circle of friction push the baseball to the pitching arm side of home plate.

     With my Torque fastball, my baseball pitchers place the pads of the tip of the Middle finger in the middle of equally to either the four and two-seams. Then, when they release my Torque fastball, they turn the circle of friction, either the small circle for the four-seam or the large circle for the two-seam, to the pitching arm side of the baseball. The purpose of turning the circle of friction to the pitching arm side of the baseball is to have the circle of friction push the baseball to the glove arm side of home plate.

     With regard to the amount of space between the cup of the hand:

01. With my Maxline fastball, because the Middle finger is in the center of the seams, I prefer my baseball pitchers to move the thumb slightly toward the pitching arm side of the baseball.

02. With my Torque fastball, because Index and Middle fingers on either side of the middle of the baseball, I prefer my baseball pitchers to move thumb slightly toward the glove arm side of the baseball.

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0084.  Challenging myself

I have been challenging myself in the last few weeks to see just how hard I can train. I have about 70 days until our first game. Here is what I am “throwing” in overall weight every day.

20 lb. wrist weights – 2 sets of 12. Total 480 lbs.
16 lb. iron ball throws – 3 sets of 12. Total 576 lbs.
10 lb. iron ball pronated max effort wrist flips. 3 sets of 20. Total 600 lbs.

Then I throw my 50 pitch bullpen. So that is a daily total of 1656 lbs. that my right arm throws every day before bullpens. I feel like I can do more. I feel like I could throw a total of at least 2000 lbs. before each bullpen, but there has to be a point of diminishing returns.

I am 56 years old. Do I just keep going up with more weight now, or level off. I know what you recommend on your website, but I also know that is styled for fellows 30 years my junior.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Beyond 50 years old, I prefer 24 repetitions at weights that do not require stress. No heavy breathing.

     I prefer jogging comfortably to sprinting to exhaustion. Aerobic versus anaerobic intensities.

     You should complete one set of 24 repetitions of 20 lb. wrist weights.

     You should complete one set of 24 repetitions of 16 lb. iron ball throws.

     You may do as many Middle Fingertip Spins that you want without stopping.

     Do no activity that could overload any part of your body.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0085.  Mets eyeing July 01 for Wheeler's return
ESPN.com
February 03, 2016

NEW YORK, NY: Fifteen months is now the New York Mets' standard rehab time for a starting pitcher after undergoing Tommy John surgery. So team officials have informed right-hander Zack Wheeler that the club is now targeting July 1 for his first major league action since the elbow procedure.

Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery on March 25, 2015.

He is rehabbing at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Wheeler initially expected to begin throwing off a mound in January, but the Mets slowed him down.

“It could accelerate a little bit, but we feel real comfortable with that. And I know he does as well,” general manager Sandy Alderson said about the July 1 target date. “He felt that he could have come back sooner than that, but we backed him off. So he really hasn’t thrown off a mound. He hasn’t thrown off a slope. We just said, ‘Let’s cool it.’”

The deliberate pace with Wheeler is in large part a product of the success of Matt Harvey's return from Tommy John surgery after a 15-month rehab process.

“After talking with the doctors, and in light of our experience with Matt Harvey, we just felt that 15 months -- thereabouts -- was more appropriate for a return than 12,” Alderson said. “Zack will have the benefit of a shorter season. So it’s not as if we’re looking for him to perform at Matt’s level, or at the amount of innings he pitched. I think, right now, we and doctors -- and not just our doctors, but doctors generally -- are looking for starting pitchers that a little longer recovery is more appropriate than the previous 12 months or so.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. " Fifteen months is now the New York Mets' standard rehab time for a starting pitcher after undergoing Tommy John surgery."
02. "So team officials have informed right-hander Zack Wheeler that the club is now targeting July 1 for his first major league action since the elbow procedure."
03. "Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery on March 25, 2015."
04. "The deliberate pace with Wheeler is in large part a product of the success of Matt Harvey's return from Tommy John surgery after a 15-month rehab process."

     Allowing nine weeks for the osteoblasts to fill the holes through which an orthopedic surgeon threaded a tendon is long enough.

     Then, these surgically-repaired baseball pitchers only need to complete my 120-Day High School Baseball Pitchers Interval-Training Program.

     My 120-Day program will eliminate all pitching injuries, teach the wide variety of high-quality pitches and increase their release and consistency.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0086.  Blue Jays reach deal with Floyd
Toronto Star
February 05, 2016

The Toronto Blue Jays have reached an agreement with right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd, according to multiple sources.

The Blue Jays have not yet confirmed the signing, first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

The 6-4, 245-pound Floyd hasn’t pitched a full major league season since 2012 due to injuries.

Floyd threw 13.1 innings over seven relief appearances for the Cleveland Indians last year after recovering from an injury. His earned-run average was 2.70.

Floyd fractured a bone in his elbow for the second time last season. In 2014, he suffered the same injury after undergoing Tommy John surgery the season before.

He was a fourth-round pick in the 2001 draft. Over 12 big-league seasons, the 33-year-old is 72-72 with a 4.38 earned-run average in 215 games and 196 starts.

He has played with the Phillies, White Sox, Braves and Indians.

Meanwhile, the Jays have agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher David Aardsma and he will report to big league spring training.

The 34-year-old right-hander was 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in 33 relief appearances for the Atlanta Braves last season.

Selected by the Giants with the 22nd overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft he is 16-18 with 69 saves and a 4.27 ERA in 331 relief appearances in nine big league seasons with San Francisco (2004), the Chicago Cubs (2006), the Chicago White Sox (2007), Boston (2008), Seattle (2009-10), the New York Yankees (2012), the New York Mets (2013) and Atlanta (2015). Aardsma had Tommy John surgery in 2011.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Due to injuries, Gavin Floyd hasn’t pitched a full major league season since 2012.
02. "After recovering from an injury, Mr. Floyd threw 13.1 innings over seven relief appearances for the Cleveland Indians last year."
03. "Mr. Floyd fractured a bone in his elbow for the second time last season."
04. "After undergoing Tommy John surgery the season before 2014, Mr. Floyd suffered the same injury."

     Mr. Floyd definitely needs to complete my 120-Day High School Baseball Pitchers Interval-Training Program.

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0087.  Fasching recovers from elbow woes
St. Cloud Times
February 05, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Jeff Fasching is about to prepare for his sophomore season on the University of Minnesota baseball team. He says he is "relatively healthy."

For the 2014 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate, that's progress.

The left-handed pitcher plans to be a contributor to the Gophers as a relief pitcher as Minnesota prepares for its season-opener Feb. 19 against Utah in Surprise, Arizona.

He does so after missing fall ball at the "U" because of a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left elbow. He had his elbow checked after pitching for the St. Cloud Beaudreau's Bar Saints last summer.

"At the end of an outing, I could feel it tighten up really bad," Fasching said.

An MRI discovered the tear. Fasching feared he would need Tommy John surgery, which would knock him out of action for at least a year. Instead, he was told to rehabilitate his elbow.

He took some time off and watched while everyone else on the Gophers went through fall ball.

"It was tough, frustrating, actually," Fasching said. "I had never had such a long layoff for an injury before.

"I've been blessed that way."

He had another setback in December, but went through weight-lifting and conditioning in January. He's listed at 6-foot, 180 pounds and ready to continue his role after a rough freshman year.

"I got my feet wet," Fasching said. "It was a great experience.

"I started out slow and started gaining some confidence. I had to reshape myself as a pitcher in order to succeed in college. I found out that what worked in high school doesn't work here."

College baseball, especially in the Big Ten Conference, was a startling experience for Fasching, who was a two-time Times Player of the Year, going 9-0 his last two seasons and not losing a game since his freshman season.

With the Gophers, Fasching appeared in seven games, all in relief, tossing eight innings. He had an 11.25 earned-run average, walking 12 and striking out four. He expects better things in 2016.

"One thing I learned is that my curve ball is not a strikeout pitch at this level," Fasching said. "I'm not going to be a strikeout pitcher.

"I need to pitch to contact and keep hitters off-balance. I need to attack the strike zone and go with my fastball and change-up a lot more than I have in the past."

Relieving is new to him, too. He always has been a starter.

"It was definitely a different mind-set, something I had to adjust to," he said. "Having a reliever's mind-set is very different."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "A partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his pitching elbow, Jeff Fasching missed fall ball."
02. "An MRI discovered the tear."
03. "Mr. Fasching feared he would need Tommy John surgery."
04, "Instead, Mr. Fasching rehabilitated his elbow."
05. "Mr. Fasching started out slow and started gaining some confidence."
06. "To succeed in college, Mr. Fasching had to reshape myself as a pitcher."
07. "Mr. Faschig found out that what worked in high school doesn't work in college."
08. "Mr. Fasching learned is that my curve ball is not a strikeout pitch at this level."

     I wonder whether Mr. Fasching played high school baseball with the baseball coach that teaches my baseball pitching motion.

     That Mr. Fasching does not pronate the releases of his curve ball indicates that he did not.

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0088.  There might not be innings limit, but Mets will still be cautious with young pitchers
New York Daily News
February 06, 2016

No doubt weary of all the hand-wringing over the issue last season, both Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are on record saying there are no more innings limits for the Mets’ golden arms. But in truth it’s mostly semantics.

That is, technically it may be true but the reality is the Mets are going to be cautious again with their young guns after Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz all threw career-highs in total innings last season and pitched deep into October for the first time.

“Those are factors you have to keep in mind the next season," Alderson told me on Friday. “We won’t have innings limits but we’ll be a little protective. We may do some things to keep them healthy and strong with the possibility they’ll be going late into October again."

He’s not talking about a six-man rotation so much as occasional spot starts from non-regulars and perhaps a skipped start here and there to refresh the young starters and guard against a hangover effect.

The 23-year old Syndergaard, for example, threw 198-2/3 innings last season, a whopping 65-inning increase from his previous high - rare these days when organizations try to limit such increases to 30 or so innings for young pitchers.

And naturally the Mets will watch Harvey carefully after he wound up throwing 216 innings, 38 more than his previous high and 36 more than the 180 that agent Scott Boras said would be "putting the player in peril" coming back from Tommy John surgery.

But are such concerns overblown in this pitch-count era?

Perhaps it’s instructive to look back at the ’86 Mets. They won 108 games and then a championship with a similarly young starting rotation, and in doing so their top four starters also totaled career-highs (or tied it, in 21-year old Dwight Gooden’s case) and pitched into the post-season for the first time.

It was a different era obviously; Gooden, Ron Darling, and Bob Ojeda totaled 276, 259, and 244 innings, respectively in ‘86. And what happened in 1987? Each of them, as well as No. 4 starter Sid Fernandez, pitched to a higher ERA and WHIP. In Darling’s case the ERA jumped from 2.81 to 4.29.

Gooden’s dominance decreased as his strikeout total fell sharply, and while he had other issues, starting the season in rehab for cocaine use, you have to wonder if the staggering total of 770 innings in his first three seasons, all before he was 22 years old, took some of the snap out of his fastball.

Ojeda, meanwhile, made only seven starts before needing season-ending elbow surgery, which may or may not have been the result of the ’86 workload.

The ’87 Mets still won 92 games and might have won the NL East had they not suffered a host of other injuries, including rookie David Cone breaking his finger trying to bunt.

In any case, Darling on Friday said he doesn’t recall feeling any sort of hangover after the ’86 season, and thinks the dip in performance may have been a natural result of trying to follow up a championship season.

With that in mind, Darling, an SNY and MLB Network analyst, doesn’t want to hear any more talk of a six-man rotation or limitations for the current starting rotation.

“I think the Mets have done an amazing job of making sure these kids are taken care of," Darling said by phone. “And even this year it’s fine to be judicious, give a guy an extra day here and there, but if I’m going to be judicious, I’m also going to make sure these guys are on the mound every turn.

“For most pitchers there’s a 4-to-6 year window of excellence. For a Hall of Famer you might get 10 to 12 but you don’t know that yet, and these guys are right in the middle of this 4-to-6 window, and to me that’s when you want to get the most out of them.

“Can they handle the workload? Absolutely. But it’s a mindset too. If you’ve been treated with kid gloves, that becomes your expectation level; at some point you have to learn how to push through that.

“You saw it with Matt (in the ninth inning of World Series Game 5). He’d never had the chance to learn how to finish. Maybe next time he’ll know how to get those last three outs."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The article said:

01. "The Mets starters won’t have innings limits but the Mets management will be a little protective."
02. "They may do some things to keep them healthy and strong with the possibility they’ll be going late into October again."
03. "They are not talking about a six-man rotation."
04. "Noah Syndergaard threw 198-2/3 innings last season, a 65-inning increase."
05. "Matt Harvey wound up throwing 216 innings, 38 more than his previous high."
06. "36 more than the 180 that agent Scott Boras said would be "putting the player in peril."
07. "But are such concerns overblown in this pitch-count era?

     If all baseball pitchers pronated the releases of their breaking pitches, then such concerns are overblown.

     However, they release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger.

     That is not pronation.

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0089.  Rehabbing Tanaka throws off mound
MLB.com
February 09, 2016

Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow in October, threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since the procedure, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told The Associated Press.

The throwing session took place in New York, according to Rothschild, and Tanaka's rehab is on schedule. The injury dates back to when the 27-year-old pitched in Japan.

Tanaka was 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 starts last season, missing time because of right wrist tendinitis and a forearm strain. He was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during the 2014 season, his first with the Yankees.


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     The article said:

01. "Masahiro Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow in October."
02. "Mr. Tanaka threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since the procedure."
03. "The injury dates back to when the 27-year-old pitched in Japan."

     Not pronating the releases of Mr. Tanaka's breaking pitches caused Mr. Tanaka's bone spur.

     Unless Mr. Tanaka learns how to pronate the releases of his breaking pitches, Mr. Tanaka is in for more pitching elbow problems.

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0090.  White Sox sign Latos to one-year deal
MLB.com
February 09, 2016

CHICAGO, IL: The White Sox strengthened the back end of their starting rotation by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with right-hander Mat Latos, the club announced on Tuesday.

If the White Sox get the Latos who pitched from 2010-13 with the Padres and Reds, then they might have done more than just strengthen the fourth or fifth starter's spot. Latos posted a 51-35 record with a 3.27 ERA during that four-year-stretch, making at least 31 starts and pitching at least 184 innings in each of those four seasons.

"Mat adds another quality veteran arm to our rotation and also increases our overall pitching depth, which always is essential to having a successful season," said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. "While we believe in the futures of several of our young starters, the chance to add a pitcher of Mat's caliber was too good of an opportunity for us to pass up. He has proven over his career that when healthy, he takes the baseball and logs quality innings."

Latos has battled through elbow and left knee issues and was limited to 37 starts and 218 2/3 innings over his 2014 and '15 campaigns. Last season, Latos finished with a 4.95 ERA across 24 appearances (21 starts) for the Marlins, Dodgers and Angels. His two games for the Angels stand as his only career American League efforts.

For the years and money committed to Latos, though, he appears to be a low-risk, high-reward sort of choice. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon provide a front three in the rotation that matches up well with most others in baseball. John Danks, in the finale of his five-year, $65 million deal, Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner were in the mix for the final two spots.

Danks and Latos should round out the rotation, while Johnson figures to open the season at Triple-A Charlotte, barring something unforeseen. Turner, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs, is out of options but could find a home in the bullpen.

Carson Fulmer, who is the team's No. 2 prospect behind shortstop Tim Anderson, quickly has become a frontline rotation candidate for the White Sox. But the team doesn't want to rush the eighth overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

Chris Beck and Scott Carroll were the only other pitchers with Major League starting experience behind the front six, though Beck is working his way back from ulnar nerve transposition, where the nerve is repositioned.


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     The article said:

01. "Mat Latos has battled through elbow and left knee issues."
02. "Over his 2014 and '15 campaigns, Mr. Latos was limited to 37 starts and 218 2/3 innings."
03. "Last season, Mr. Latos finished with a 4.95 ERA across 24 appearances (21 starts)."
04. "Mr. Latos two games for the Angels stand as his only career American League efforts."

     If Mr. Latos is able to stay healthy, then Mr. Latos is able to pitch well.

     The question is whether Mr. Latos pronates the releases of his breaking pitches.

     I doubt that Don Cooper knows what pronation is.

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0091.  Year-After Effect: Five pitchers at injury risk
Sports Illustrated
February 09, 2016
by Tom Verducci

Lance McCullers of the Astros is the embodiment of state-of-the-art pitching. He reached the big leagues last year at a precocious age (21), throws ferociously hard (up to 98 mph, with a cruising speed of 95), whipsaws one of the game’s nastiest curveballs (batters hit .148 against it in 2015) and flaunts a freakish changeup with elite run and velocity (90 mph, and sometimes as hard as 95). McCullers makes hitters look foolish: In 22 starts last season, he averaged 9.24 strikeouts per nine innings. Only one American League pitcher that young with that many starts ever punched out hitters at a better rate: Frank Tanana, with 9.4 for the Angels in 1975.

This strikeout prodigy was the No. 4 starter on a wild-card team that won 86 games. Now you understand why just getting on base has never been so hard for AL hitters since the DH was introduced in 1973. Velocity, spin and control have evolved to become an all-time difficult combination.

Weaponry is not the only reason McCullers is state of the art. There is also this marker: The Astros, while in first place, shut him down for two weeks last August when he was perfectly healthy. Why? Two industry-wide words that didn’t exist a generation ago: innings limit.

McCullers had never thrown more than 104 2/3 innings in a pro season, so Houston kept him off a game mound for a fortnight to lessen the increase of his workload as a proactive way of keeping him healthy. He threw three minor-league innings over a 20-day period.

“Knowing he’d be looking at a big jump up in innings, we were looking for an opportunity to give him a break,” said Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who added that his organization does not use firm limits for its pitchers. “I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no silver bullet. Every pitcher is unique. We don’t have any specific rule of thumb. Really what we want is constant discussion and dialog between the player, the trainers, the coaches, the doctors, the medical professionals and the front office. That’s our only rule. The only outcome I can’t tolerate is not having constant communication about it. This is a science, but it’s an inexact science. We think we have a lot of information and we look at everything, but in a lot of ways you’re still playing a guessing game.”

Inspired by how Oakland handled young aces Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito in the early 2000s, I have tracked for well more than a decade how teams increase the workload on their young starters. Teams have grown more conservative over this time: Shutdowns of healthy pitchers and pre-determined caps on innings have become commonplace, lest their young arms be endangered by something I call The Year After Effect, in which too many innings piled on too quickly could increase the risk of regression or injury.

What’s too many? Luhnow is correct in saying that every pitcher is unique. Many pitchers simply get hurt for reasons that have nothing to do with their workload, and some defy the odds and never get hurt, even with large workloads. But to track workloads, you do need qualifiers. I look at major league pitchers in their age-25 season or younger who increased their previous high in innings by more than 30%. It doesn’t mean these pitchers will definitely get hurt; it means they packed on innings at an especially high rate and bear watching this year.

So let’s get right to it. For the second year in a row, I found only five pitchers who added enough innings to qualify as an outlier. All of them pitched for contenders, including four postseason teams. Mr. State of the Art is on top of the list with the largest increase in innings as measured by percentage. (The increase by innings pitched is over the pitcher's previous career high. All innings are counted, including winter ball):

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| # |PITCHER                    |AGE | INNINGS |INCREASE BY IP|INCREASE BY %|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
|01.|Lance McCullers, Astros    | 21 | 164     |   +59 1/3    |   +56.7%    |
|02.|Noah Syndergaard, Mets     | 22 | 198 2/3 |   +65 2/3    |   +49.4%    |
|03.|Luis Severino, Yankees     | 21 | 161 2/3 |   +48 2/3    |   +43.1%    |
|04.|Carlos Martinez, Cardinals | 23 | 179 2/3 |   +52 2/3    |   +41.5%    |
|05.|Tyler Duffey, Twins        | 24 | 196     |   +46 2/3    |   +31.3%    |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I’ll get to each of these pitchers in more detail shortly, but first let’s examine what happened to the five pitchers I red-flagged before last season, in order of their respective innings increase, and how the year after turned out for them:

1. Jesse Hahn, Oakland (58.4%): Shut down in July with elbow discomfort and a right forearm strain, five years removed from Tommy John surgery.

2. Rubby De La Rosa, Arizona (46.5%): Made 32 starts; his 4.67 ERA (up from 4.43) was the second worst of any NL qualifier. Daniel Norris, Toronto/Detroit (44.5%): Threw 150 2/3 combined innings in the minors and majors and missed four weeks with an oblique injury.

3. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City (38.9%): ERA rose from 3.20 to 4.08.

4. Marcus Stroman, Toronto (34.8%): Blew out his knee in spring training; missed five months.

And now for the class of 2016. 1. Lance McCullers

How could Houston give McCullers an August sabbatical and still allow him to take on the biggest workload increase? As Luhnow said, the Astros don’t have fixed limits, and the feedback they received on McCullers during the season was favorable. They saw a young pitcher who maintained his velocity and who was given extra rest in 13 of his 22 starts.

(The idea of “extra rest,” however, as I’ve written before, needs updating. Four days of rest are no longer the norm; pitchers make a majority of starts now on five or more days of rest.)

At the end of a long season, Houston handed McCullers the ball in ALDS Game 4 against Kansas City for what turned out to be his final outing of the season. He allowed one run and struck out seven batters, just 10 days after turning 22. Only two AL pitchers that young ever had more strikeouts in a postseason game: Bret Saberhagen of the Royals in the 1985 World Series and Chief Bender of the Philadelphia A's in the 1905 World Series. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t even in big-league camp in spring training.

“Our plan going into the season was that we knew he would start at Double A and likely move to Triple A with a chance to pitch in the big leagues,” Luhnow said. “We wanted to let him pitch and monitor it.”

Luhnow recently was reported to have said that the Astros will place an innings limit on McCullers this year, but as he told me, “I think those comments were misinterpreted. We are not placing a limit. We are going to try to manage his workload so that he stays healthy through the season and is available in the playoffs.”

How conservative have teams grown when it comes to pushing their young pitchers? Compare Floyd Youmans, who was taken by the Mets with the 33rd pick of the 1982 draft, with McCullers, the 41st pick 30 years later, in 2012. Both are righthanded power pitchers who stood 6'2", had been born in Tampa, were drafted out of high school and reached the big leagues at age 21 in their fourth professional seasons. Here are their year-by-year innings workloads:

--------------------------
| YEAR |MCCULLERS|YOUMANS|
--------------------------
|Year 1|  26     |039 1/3|
|Year 2| 104 2/3 |134 1/3|
|Year 3|  97     |125 2/3|
|Year 4| 164     |200 1/3|
--------------------------
Look at that jump for Youmans in Year 4, which was 1985, the year he reached the majors with Montreal. He followed it up in 1986 by throwing 219 innings, all at the major league level, including 202 strikeouts and an NL-high 118 walks. We don’t have pitch count records from 1986, but just imagine the load on his 22-year-old arm in so-called "good old days” of pitching. Youmans threw at least eight innings in eight of his final 10 starts for an Expos team that was more than 20 games out of first place. Such use today would get a manager fired. Youmans hurt his elbow in 1987, and the year after that, he was in drug rehab. His major league career was finished at age 25.

McCullers has thrown 28% fewer innings in his first four years (391 2/3) than did Youmans 30 years ago (499 2/3). Youmans tossed 10 complete games in the minors in those four seasons. In 50 minor-league starts, McCullers never threw more than 6 1/3 innings, and he only lasted that long once. He threw five innings or less in 45 of those starts. He also made 15 assorted relief appearances and missed three weeks in 2014 with back soreness.

That’s why McCullers is state of the art. The game is training starting pitchers to throw fewer innings less often but with more effort. And, despite half of all starting pitchers winding up on the disabled list each year, the system is working (at least as far as depressing offense) because of the expanding inventory of hard-throwing pitchers.

Noah Syndergaard

With all the attention last year on an innings limit for Mets teammate Matt Harvey, Syndergaard made a riskier jump in workload with a fraction of the fuss. The 23-year-old Syndergaard is four years younger than Harvey and had never before pitched a sixth month in a season, never mind the seventh that he did last year as New York advanced to the World Series. In that seventh month (October), Syndergaard threw 19 high-stress innings, including a 101-pitch start in the NLCS on two days of rest from a 17-pitch relief outing in the NLDS clincher. He also threw far more sliders in September and October.

At 6'6", 240 pounds, Syndergaard is built like an NFL tight end and, like McCullers, he maintained his velocity. (It actually increased a bit in October: Against the Dodgers in the Division Series, he threw his fastest pitch all year, at 101.3 mph.)

The Mets will treat all of their young starters with extra care this spring and through the first two months of the season. From day one of camp those pitchers—a group that also includes Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz—will be on a slower-than-normal track in terms of when they throw and how much. They rarely will pitch on the fifth day early in the regular season, as New York will drop in a sixth starter when the luxury of an off day does not provide five days of rest between starts.

Syndergaard, who said he thrives on a heavy workload, made 32 starts overall last year; just 11 on the fifth day. The bottom line is that the Mets believe Syndergaard is such a physical force—a true outlier when it comes to strength and size—that the usual risk of such an innings jump for such a young pitcher does not apply.

Luis Severino

The Yankees knew Severino was so good that they limited his early-season work in the minors so that he could throw big-league innings in the second half. In 19 minor-league starts last year, Severino averaged only 82.9 pitches per start. Then New York promoted him in August for the playoff push, when development takes a back seat to winning games. Against higher competition, the Yankees bumped his pitches per game to 93.3, a 13% increase. His innings totals ramped up simply because he was too good for the team to back off on his usage.

Just how good was Severino at age 21? He posted an ERA+ of 137 in 11 starts. Only one other Yankee that young ever posted a better adjusted ERA with at least 11 starts: Hall of Famer Whitey Ford in 1950 (153 in 12 starts).

Severino throws in a similar manner to Kansas City's Yordano Ventura. Both are 6-foot righthanders who often recoil off a stiff landing leg. They don’t have long levers but make good, efficient use of body speed and balance. Severino doesn’t have Ventura’s two-seamer or curveball, but he is blessed with textbook arm deceleration—something you can see in how easily and how far his hand travels behind him after releasing the baseball. It saves wear and tear on the shoulder, as opposed to an abbreviated stop, which is the equivalent of wearing out a car's brakes (the muscles in the back of the shoulder) by jamming them at each stoplight.

Carlos Martinez

No need to wait for the Year After Effect here; this is a classic case of the difficulty of transitioning a reliever to the rotation. Martinez had never thrown more than 127 innings in a pro season and worked mostly out of the bullpen in 2013 and '14. Yet in 2015, the Cardinals dropped him into their rotation and let him go. They tried to protect him by giving him a nine-day rest around the All-Star break and by never letting him throw more than 108 pitches in a game. But still, just as Martinez passed his previous innings high, he began to wear down, even as his velocity rose. He posted a 2.57 ERA through his first 127 1/3 innings but a 4.11 ERA over his last 50 1/3. On Sept. 25, his shoulder cried “uncle:” Martinez came out of his start that day after throwing only six pitches, and St. Louis shut him down for the year.

The transition story of Martinez holds echoes of the one for Joba Chamberlain, another young righthander with a power slider. Chamberlain transitioned from the Yankees' bullpen to their rotation midway through the 2008 season and soon went on the DL with rotator cuff tendinitis. He went back to the rotation the next year, posted a 4.75 ERA and a 36% innings jump over his previous high, then blew out his elbow in 2011.

Martinez has remained in Jupiter, Fla., this winter to work with the Cardinals’ newly established medical performance staff (another totem of state of the art). He is expected to be ready for spring training.

Tyler Duffey

The Twins remained in the wild-card race until the last weekend of the season, and this 6'3", 220-pound rookie righthander was a key part of that run: Minnesota went 8–2 in Duffey’s 10 starts after his promotion from the minors. The Twins did give him “extra rest” in seven of those 10 starts, but Duffey, who was used as a reliever at Rice University, rolled up 196 innings in 32 overall starts—a significant jump from 149 1/3 innings and 25 starts the previous season.

Minnesota believes Duffey has several factors working in his favor to withstand such a jump. He recently turned 25 years old, has a big body and doesn’t throw a power slider, as do Chamberlain, Martinez, Severino and Syndergaard. Except for the rare changeup, Duffey is a two-pitch pitcher who throws his curveball like nobody else in baseball—40% of the time, the most by any pitcher who made at least 10 starts.

But here’s the bad news: Duffey has several red flags in his delivery, the kind of movement patterns you just don’t see in sustainable starting pitchers. He pulls his pitching hand and elbow behind his back during his stride phase (crossing the acromial line, the imaginary line between the tops of the shoulders); he shows the ball to centerfield as he loads it, which causes timing issues; he loads with the arm at more than a 90-degree bend (forearm flyout); and he throws with a slight crossfire action over his front leg.

Duffey showed last year that he can pitch like that and still be effective. His 134 ERA+ was the third best among first-year pitchers in franchise history with at least 10 starts, behind only Scott Erickson in 1990 (145) and Mickey Haefner in '43 (140). But when you combine his unorthodox mechanics with his jump in innings, the Twins should keep a close eye on him this year.


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     Astros general manager, Jeff Luhnow, said:

01. “Knowing he’d be looking at a big jump up in innings, we were looking for an opportunity to give him a break.”
02. "Our organization does not use firm limits for its pitchers."
03. “I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no silver bullet."
04. "Every pitcher is unique."
05. "We don’t have any specific rule of thumb."
06. "Really what we want is constant discussion and dialog between the player, the trainers, the coaches, the doctors, the medical professionals and the front office."
07. "That’s our only rule."
08. "The only outcome I can’t tolerate is not having constant communication about it."
09. "This is a science, but it’s an inexact science."
10. "We think we have a lot of information and we look at everything, but in a lot of ways you’re still playing a guessing game.”

     The more ignorant people that contribute their foolishness, the worse the result.      Seventeen years ago, I taught Lance McCullers, Sr. how to use my wrist weight exercises, to throw the iron balls and how to throw the pitches he would need to succeed against the four types of baseball batters.      The article said:

01. "Lance McCullers, Jr. is the embodiment of state-of-the-art pitching."
02. "Jr. reached the big leagues last year at a precocious age (21)."
03. "Jr. throws ferociously hard (up to 98 mph, with a cruising speed of 95)."
04. "Jr. whipsaws one of the game’s nastiest curveballs (Maxline Pronation Curve)."
05. "Jr. flaunts a freakish changeup (Maxline Fastball Sinker).
06. "Jr. makes hitters look foolish."
07. "In 22 starts last season, Jr. averaged 9.24 strikeouts per nine innings."

     It appears that Sr. did a good job or teaching and training Jr.

     Sports Illustrated sportswriter, Tom Verducci, said:

01. "I have tracked for well more than a decade how teams increase the workload on their young starters."
02. "Teams have grown more conservative over this time."
03. "Shutdowns of healthy pitchers and pre-determined caps on innings have become commonplace."
04. "I call The Year After Effect."
05. "Too many innings piled on too quickly could increase the risk of regression or injury."

     Jeff Luhnow said: "This is a science, but it’s an inexact science."

     When I explain how to use the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, the Triceps Brachii muscle and the Pronator Teres muscle, what I say is science.

     When Tom Verducci, Jeff Luhnow, Dr. Glenn Fleisig and all the other pseudo-science ignorants, baseball pitching becomes nonsense.

     My baseball pitching motion is pure science.

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0092.  Darvish getting stronger physically, mentally
MLB.com
February 09, 2016

ARLINGTON, TX: Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, said he is feeling stronger physically than he did before having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last March 17. More importantly, Darvish said he is feeling much better mentally as well.

Darvish, speaking with the media after his rehabilitation workout on Wednesday, admitted that the game started becoming a grind over the past few years, and he wasn't enjoying it as much. The time off has made a difference.

"I feel like I'm enjoying throwing more and playing baseball," Darvish said. "I'm seeing things different than I did in the past."

Darvish has a role model in Prince Fielder, who won the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2015. Fielder, who missed the last four months of the '14 season after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, said the time off reminded him how much fun the game was and how much he missed it.

"I feel I'm the same way," Darvish said. "If I can enjoy it and do what I am doing on the mound, the results will come. He had good results last year, and I'm hoping to have the same."

Darvish is on a throwing program but has yet to throw off a mound. He is throwing long toss from 120 feet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and playing catch on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 75 feet. He has a light throwing session on Saturdays and takes Sundays off.

"I am feeling pretty well, and I feel stronger than I did before the surgery," Darvish said. "Every [body] part you can imagine I feel stronger."

Darvish said he feels he could throw 95 mph, but the Rangers aren't ready for that yet. Darvish will report to Spring Training on time next Thursday with pitchers and catchers, but will not throw off a mound until sometime in March. He will likely need at least a month of throwing off the mound before a medical rehabilitation assignment that could entail 5-6 starts in the Minors.

The goal for Darvish's return is still somewhere between mid-May and the beginning of June. He joked about his hope being sometime in April, but that's not going to happen.

Having come this far, nobody wants to take any chances down the stretch. He has not had any setbacks to this point.

"I want to take my time," Darvish said. "I don't want to rush it."

The normal recovery from Tommy John is 12 months, but the Rangers built in an extra two months to make sure. Darvish took six weeks off from throwing at the end of 2015 to let his body recover and then picked it up again after the beginning of the year.

"After I came back from six weeks off, I felt stronger, so I think it should help," Darvish said.

Darvish enters his fifth season with the Rangers. From 2012-14, he was 39-25 with a 3.27 ERA in 83 starts. Over those three years combined, he was eighth in the American League in ERA and first with 11.22 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Rangers are holding a spot for him in a rotation that already includes left-handers Cole Hamels, Derek Holland and Martin Perez, and right-hander Colby Lewis. The fifth spot is open. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez, Anthony Ranaudo and A.J. Griffin are the leading candidates entering Spring Training, but when Darvish is ready, he'll be in the rotation.

"I imagine myself being on the mound again," Darvish said. "It's good ... thinking how hard I can throw, how much better I will be. I'm excited to think of myself back on the mound."


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     The article said:

01. "Yu Darvish said he feels he could throw 95 mph."
02. "But, the Rangers aren't ready for that yet."
03. "Mr. Darvish will report to Spring Training on time."
04. "Mr. Darvish will not throw off a mound until sometime in March."
05. "Mr. Darvish will likely need at least a month of throwing off the mound before a medical rehabilitation assignment that could entail 5-6 starts in the Minors."

     If Mr. Darvish does not pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the accelertion phase of my baseball pitching motion, then Mr. Darvish will soon injure his pitching elbow again because Mr. Darvish releases his breaking pitches over the top of his Index finger.

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0093.  Interesting fact

Yes, I believe he can have it proof read or edited.

He knows there is much more to the entire action than just the arm action, but I believe they will be limited to keeping their report to a certain length. He is not sure yet but will be getting updated as the semester moves along.


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     The double action of the pitching arm is very special, but, without rotating the hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot, we could not drive down our acromial line.

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0094.  Challenging myself

Thank you.

I have been going with how my body responds to the stress. I seem to be getting close to my tolerance level.

It's a great feeling to throw without pain and to have power.


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     You should train every day at maintenance intensity.

     Let your variety of high-quality pitches baffle the batters.

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0095.  College Baseball Pitcher that Trained in my Backyard Reports

I've been pitching really good in scrimmages and coach has been letting me pitch a lot.

I'm have been getting a little pain in the front of my throwing arm shoulder. I don't think it's from throwing baseballs wrong but from doing the bucket lid throws wrong.

While doing the bucket lid throws, instead of getting the back of my elbow up and letting the horizontal rebound of my forearm going towards third base happen as a result.

I've been purposely trying to throw my forearm towards third base when getting to slingshot position.

I think this put stress on the front of my shoulder.

I should of just got the back of my elbow high to sling shot position and let the horizontal rebound happen as a result.

I also have been doing more than 24 reps a day on these for extra practice thinking it would make me better quicker.

I haven't been reverse rotating when pitching making me take the ball behind me of haven't had much rotational (side to side) movement with my arm to cause stress on the shoulder while throwing. So I think I did it doing the bucket lids wrong.

I still have been throwing in games at full intensity and doing a lot of wrist weights, lead ball throws, pronation swings, and shake downs to try to get my shoulder better.

It's getting better but I have stopped doing the lid throws since it started hurting and just started up on football throws again (24).

I think that I need to learn to throw the bucket lid correctly so that I don't hurt my shoulder.

Please let me know your thoughts.


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     Now that you are throwing at full intensity, you need to go into maintenance training mode.

     That means that you do one-half the number of repetitions of your wrist weight exercises, lead ball throws, Lid throws and football throws with less intensity. Think blood flow, not power.

     The Latissimus Dorsi muscle is very powerful. Nevertheless, when you again train for the 'horizontal rebound,' take your time and increase your intensity gently.

     When you do your Lid throws, focus on the 'pronation snap' release.

     When pitching in scrimmages and competition, focus on powerfully extending your pitching elbow and pronating your pitching forearm through release. Stick your pitching hand into the center of the strike zone.

     Are you able to drive down the acromial line, especially with your Maxline Pronation Curve and Maxline Fastball Sinker?

     It sounds as though your coach appreciates your skills.

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0096.  Perpendicular vs inside vertical

In regard to Q/A #81 you wrote: "When Jeff’s pitching forearm is perpendicular to the driveline, Jeff will start to extend his pitching elbow. Don’t let the fact that Jeff’s pitching forearm moves to vertical fool you."

1. Isn't this one of the difficulties of your teaching methods?

Jeff's forearm never even remotely gets perpendicular to his driveline.

Further, you say you want the baseball as high as possible at release.

So we have a pitcher trying to visualize a successful pitch.

He is trying to get his forearm horizontal to the ground (perpendicular to driveline) AND release the baseball as high as possible.

2. Would a youngster trying to visualize those two contradictory instructions end up frustrated and confused?

I assume you'll be happy with the forearm anywhere inside of vertical at release.

I just don't get asking pitchers to visualize the impossible.

Taken separately, each instruction is fine. When put together I think they confuse.

3. What am I missing?


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     I should have written: "When Jeff’s pitching forearm is 'horizontally' perpendicular to the driveline, Jeff will start to extend his pitching elbow. Don’t let the fact that Jeff’s pitching forearm moves to vertical fool you."

     In my 'Slingshot' position, I want my baseball pitchers to have their pitching upper arm as close to vertically beside their head as possible with their pitching forearm horizontally pointing toward second base.

     The first movement out of the 'Slingshot' position comes from the Latissimus Dorsi muscle inwardly rotating the pitching upper arm. The result of the inward rotation of the pitching upper arm is to move the pitching forearm to move from pointing toward second base to pointing to the glove arm side base, in Jeff's case, Jeff will point the pitching forearm at first base.

     This is the moment where "Jeff's pitching forearm is 'horizontally' perpendicular to the driveline."

     The second movement out of the pitching forearm being 'horizontally' perpendicular comes from the Triceps Brachii muscle extending the pitching elbow. The result of the extension of the pitching elbow is to move the pitching hand upward, hopefully inside vertically at release.

     Jeff takes his pitching hand laterally toward the pitching arm side base, in Jeff's case, Jeff will point the pitching hand at third base. Unfortunately, when Jeff extends his pitching elbow, Jeff's pitching forearm moves outside of vertical. The result is lost release velocity and consistency, but he was the best example I had.

01. The most difficult teaching method is to get my baseball pitchers to stop reverse rotating and forward rotating over the pitching foot. All power is over the glove foot.

02. No. I challenged my baseball pitchers to brush the button on the top of their cap. All of my baseball pitchers said that they could do that. Unfortunately, high-speed film proved them wrong.

03. I hope that I explained what you missed.

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0097.  Weighted ball training versus long toss programs

My son is a 14 year-old pitcher.

What is your opinion of weighted ball training versus long toss?

We have heard different views and wondered what an expert thinks.


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     I recommend that your 14 year old baseball pitcher is to complete my 60-Day Youth Baseball Pitchers Motor Skill Acquisition Program.

     In my program, your son will learn how to perform my wrist weight exercises, my heavy ball throws, my Lid throws and my football throws.

     I would never have youth or adult baseball pitchers throw baseballs that do not weigh five and one-quarter ounces or practice throwing baseballs at forty-five degrees upward.

     The most important skill baseball pitchers of all ages is how to apply force in straight lines toward home plate and how to release breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger.

     Under no circumstances should baseball pitchers of all ages release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger.

     To learn to throw injury-free breaking pitches, baseball pitchers of all ages need to learn how to 'horizontally sail' the square lid off of four gallon plastic buckets.

     To learn this skill, open the Football Training Program in my Baseball Pitchers Instructional Video.

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0098.  Two and Four-Seam Curve Balls

Does a two seam curve ball break more than a four seam curve ball?


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     If you are able to throw two and four-seam 12-6 curve balls, then, because two-seam curve ball will move downward as a result of friction between the seams of the baseball and the air molecules, two-seam curves will move down one-half as much as four-seam curves will move down.

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0099.  Short Step

You wrote:" The double action of the pitching arm is very special, but, without rotating the hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot, we could not drive down our acromial line."

Very true.

In fact I have been learning that truth more and more as I work out.

I have been shortening my "stride" lately to about only 4 feet with my glove leg. It is more of a "power walk" step now. It really allows me to get over, then in front of my glove leg while keeping my pitching elbow up and back so I can really "lean into" as you put it, my pitching shoulder.

When I successfully accomplish this movement, I can feel the "load" build up in my entire shoulder girdle. The Latissimus Dorsi and my Triceps Brachii muscles feel the stored energy build. Then in an instant, when my acromial line is about 25 to 30 degrees from pointing at the plate, I can hold back no more. And like a dam suddenly bursting, my arm violently unloads all that stored energy with quick and powerful elbow extension and inward arm rotation and pronation.

When done correctly, the release of this energy happens so fast and ball gets driven so violently straight to the plate that it's over before you knew it begun. When executed properly, it surprised me how much harder I could throw the ball.

It's interesting that you teach keeping the shoulders and hips rotating as one unit as opposed to "hip - shoulder separation" like everyone else teaches.

The only other person who believes this is the best way to transfer lower body energy to the upper body is Dr. Winchester. In his terms he calls it "Joint Centration". And he was talking about this long before he had ever heard of you.

Several months ago, he spoke to Eric and me about how MLB pitchers lose or "leak" power between their hip and shoulder rotation because they do not lock their hips and shoulders in one movement.

He said that throwing athletes should take advantage of rotating the entire body with shoulders set directly over hips as one unit. That is the most efficient way to transfer rotational energy.

Eric told him then that he needed to meet you because you both came to the same conclusion with totally unrelated research experiences.


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     You beautifully described what I felt when I pitched.

     In 1971, I determined that, when baseball pitchers stride too far to continue to move the center of mass of their body forward through release, their rates of acceleration decline more and more as the baseball approaches release, when they need that extra acceleration.

     I am pleased that Dr. Winchester understands that to transfer force fully baseball pitchers have to continue to move the center of mass forward through release.

     I was hoping the Dr. Winchester would join me in preventing baseball pitchers from banging the bones in the back of the pitching elbow when they threw the 'traditional' curve balls.

     In 1967, I learned how to pronate the release of my slider.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, February 21, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0100.  Dr. Winchester is on board

I believe Dr. Winchester will want to particiate.

Eric is doing an excellent job explaining to him how pronating off speed pitches both protects the elbow AND produces higher spin rates.

Plus, there is a baseball training facility in our town run by ex-pro players and pitchers.

They are teaching pure traditional throwing motions and to date 2 of the local high school boys who have trained with them have been injured pitching their way while training with them in the off-season. One has fractured his humerus and the other has partially tore his UCL this winter.

Both have been referred to Dr. Winchester and Eric has been rehabbing them while explaining to Dr. Winchester what has caused these injuries.

Dr. Winchester is on board.

Good things are developing and there will be more in the future I believe!


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     When Dr. Winchester and I met, I handed Dr. Winchester a research paper published on October 11, 2005 by Rick W. Wright, MD titled 'Elbow Range of Motion In Professional Baseball Pitchers.

     Dr. Winchester said that he knows Dr. Wright.

     For over 130 years, baseball pitchers have released their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger and destroyed their pitching elbow.

     To release breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of the Middle finger requires baseball pitchers to engage their Latissimus Dorsi, Triceps Brachii and Pronator Teres muscles.

     Therefore, we are not just teaching baseball pitchers how to throw injury-free curves, we are also eliminating injuries in the pitching shoulder and increasing release velocity and consistency.

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0101.  My College Baseball Pitcher Reports

My shoulder feels great again.

Your wrist weights exercises and lead ball throws got the soreness out quick.

I pitched 3 days in a row this past weekend in scrimmages with no runs allowed.

I need to get better at driving the ball down the acromial line with all my pitches, especially the maxline sinker and pronation curve ball.

Where should my lower body land on my maxline fastball?

I think landing too far over on the torque curve has made it too loopy as well. I'm trying to get more slider action on it the way my coach wants it. For it to start off like a fastball and break away to get swing and misses.

For the most part on my command I only usually miss high. I've been trying to work on that by pulling hard with my lead leg and keep moving forward towards home plate.

Also note that I am trying to camouflage your pitching motion like Sparks.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Your responses are helping me a lot and I appreciate them.


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     As I repeatedly say, the Latissimus Dorsi muscle is a very powerful muscle that recovers quickly.

     On Maxline pitches, you need to stand to the glove arm side of the pitching rubber and drop step about six inches outside the pitching rubber.

     You need to release your Maxline pitches outside of the glove arm side of the pitching rubber.

     With your drop step at least six inches outside of the pitching rubber, you need to drive the center of mass of your body six inches outside of the glove arm side of the pitching rubber.

     On Torque pitches, you need to stand on the pitching arm side of the pitching rubber and step on the line from the pitching arm side of the pitching rubber.

     After the heel of your glove foot lands, you drive your pitching knee diagonally in front of the glove knee and drive the center of mass of your body straight down the line of the pitching arm side of the pitching rubber.

     Good pitches require perfect body control.

     That your pitches are high indicates that you are driving the pitches upward.

     You want to have your body in front of the glove foot with your body leaning forward with your pitching elbow driving through release.

     Pulling the glove foot backward as hard as you are able and moving the entire pitching arm side of your body in front of the glove foot will enable you to lean forward through release.

     It is a shame that my baseball pitchers have to camouflage that you are using my baseball pitching motion.

     I tell my guys that to say that, when you keep my front leg close to the ground, you feel in more control of my body, like when baseball pitchers 'slide' step forward.

     I greatly appreciate that you tell me how you are doing and asking me questions.

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0102.  My College Baseball Pitcher Reports

Adding more to the last email with regards to getting the ball down and driving the ball on the acromial line.

Throwing the footballs and the lead ball out of the no stride position keeping the foot planted is easy and I can feel it easier to drive the ball down the acromial line.

I just have trouble transferring this to my delivery.

I'm guessing it's just me getting to excited in the game and over-striding and coming forward too early.

Throwing out of the no stride position also makes it easier to keep the ball down in the strike zone.

What are some ways to transfer this over to my delivery while camouflaging it like Sparks?


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     In the earlier email I wrote: To camouflage my baseball pitching motion, I tell my guys that to say that, when you keep my front leg close to the ground, you feel in more control of my body, like when baseball pitchers 'slide' step forward.

     In the bullpen, stand in the No Step position and, without stepping, throw as though you have baserunners.

     My No Step body action is the best way to learn how to get your body in front of your glove foot.

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0103.  College Pitcher that recently trained with you

I was recently reading through your latest Q & A’s when I read question 0095 and it reminded me of  a similar experience I had when I started the bucket lid throws.

I didn’t necessarily have pain in my shoulder when I threw them, but it seemed like I would “tweak” for lack of a better word, a muscle group in my shoulder during certain throws. I believe I was trying to drive the lids too hard by using max intensity contraction with my Latissimus Dorsi.

The bucket lids are so light that they offer almost no resistance to that muscle when you throw. I learned fairly quickly that the bucket lid drill is, like you said, designed to learn how to pronate the release of you curve.

When I started concentrating  on the forearm pronation action exclusively and backed off on the Latissimus Dorsi power a little bit, the entire movement smoothed out and I was able to execute much better.

As a side note, Eric is so strong he can stand there with his elbow up near his temple, and by simply extending his elbow and pronating his forearm, drive a bucket lid so hard, I wouldn’t want to stretch my neck out in front of it! Oh to be 23 years old again.


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     The first skill baseball pitchers have to master is to 'pronation snap' through the release.

     'Traditional' baseball pitchers have it backward.

     Instead of jumping off the pitching rubber, we walk off the pitching rubber.

     Instead of rotating the hips first, we rotate the hips and shoulders last.

     All power comes after baseball pitchers have moved the entire pitching arm side of their body forward over their glove foot.

     Walter Alston told me that I looked as though I was not trying hand.

     Eric has it right, it is all 'pronation snap.'

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0104.  College Pitcher that recently trained with you

You put it in a nutshell so well. That is exactly right.

1. When we work with young pitchers, it's like we have to completely erase their "hard drive" and reinstall new software that is 180 degrees the opposite from what they have been taught.

2. "Don't drive hard and long with the pitching side leg, then land and stop. Walk forward with the pitching side leg, walking thru the landing of the glove side foot, THEN, power accelerate all the way thru release."

3. "Don't swing your arm backward with the hand on top of the ball and your shoulder rotated inward, keep the hand under the ball and pendulum swing your arm backward while rotating your shoulder outward".

4. "When driving your arm toward the plate, don't let your elbow fly out and away from your body while allowing your shoulder to passively rotate even more to the outside and have your arm make an arc around your body."

5. Bring your elbow up and in toward your head to disengage the Pectoralis Major and ENGAGE the Latissimus Dorsi while driving your elbow directly at the plate and rotating your shoulder INWARDLY and pronating your forearm inwardly as well".

6. "In throwing the curve, don't supinate your release like you are "tipping your hat to a lady", powerfully pronate your release like you are going to rip the seams off the top of the ball".

All these things and more are truly opposite of traditional thinking. Some kids look at us like we are crazy. But a few others get it. Normally the "thinkers" are the ones who begin to trust what we are saying. And any kid who is feeling pain wants anything to help take the pain away.


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     Sounds good to me.

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0105.  Montas may miss four months after rib surgery
MLB.com
February 12, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA: Rookie right-hander Frankie Montas, the centerpiece for the Dodgers in a December three-team trade, will miss two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery on Friday, it was announced.

According to the club, Montas had a stress reaction in his rib, and the procedure was performed by Dr. Greg Pearl in Dallas. Pearl performed a similar operation for thoracic outlet syndrome on Josh Beckett two years ago when the veteran right-hander experienced numbness in his pitching hand. Beckett returned to action, threw a no-hitter, then retired at the end of the 2014 season.

Montas, 23 next month, was acquired from the White Sox with infielder Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson in the three-team Todd Frazier trade. The Dodgers sent Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon to the Reds in the deal.

MLB.com ranks Montas the No. 4 prospect in the Dodgers' organization.

Montas was likely to open the 2016 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City because of the Dodgers' pitching depth. He had a brief callup by the White Sox last year, when he went 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in seven appearances (two starts).

Montas, who has triple-digit velocity at times, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Red Sox and was traded in 2013 in the Jake Peavy deal. He had surgery on both knees in '14.


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     The rib resection surgery prevents the first rib from compressing the Subclavian Vein.

     A better way to prevent compressing the Subclavian Vein is to teach baseball pitchers to apply force to the baseball down the acromial line.

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0106.  How to teach pitching mechanics (or more accurately, how not to ruin a pitcher)
Sporting News
February 12, 2016

“His name is Franz Bosch,” Ron Wolforth of the renowned Texas Baseball Ranch explained.

Franz Bosch is a track and field coach and motor learning professor over in the Netherlands. He was studying the javelin throw; the elite javelin throwers in the world. One of them was from Finland and the other one was from the Czech Republic – the two best in the world. Those two were always battling it out and the only people they had ever lost to was each other. It was kind of like a Federer and Nadal sort of thing…a real rivalry and no one else was close.

I brought him all the way over to the Ranch and he spoke to the coaches, then I brought him over again just to talk with our staff and me. He showed me two videos side by side of the two best javelin throwers and of course I didn’t know anything about javelin and he goes ‘Alright, just looking at this, which one of these is the best javelin thrower?’

I looked at them and they were significantly different. One was very upright, his front knee was very straight at launch, his body was more upright as he threw the javelin, and then there was another one that looked more like Nolan Ryan, almost identical to Nolan Ryan at release. His front side had more flexion, his trunk far more flexed, etc. I looked at that and went hmm, ‘I like this one better.’ He goes, ‘Good choice. This is right now is the number one javelin thrower in the world.’ I’m thinking yeah, I’m smart, and he goes ‘And the only guy ever to beat him is the other guy.’

He says ‘Now, here’s my point. Why do you think this guy looks like that and that guy looks like that?’ I go ‘I have no idea.’ He goes ‘That’s a good answer. Here’s the truth. We don’t know, but I will promise you, this guy’s ankle mobility is slightly different than this guy’s ankle mobility. This guy’s hip mobility is different than this guy’s hip mobility. This guy’s hamstring flexibility is different than this guy’s. This guy’s core strength is different than this guy’s. This guy’s lever length is different than this guy’s. This guy’s shoulder mobility…and therefore based on all these this is the very best way this guy can throw it and this is the very best way this guy can throw it. So if we would have taken both of these kids at 12 and made each of them throw exactly like the other one, we would have ruined both of them.’

And I thought ‘wow.’ That was so humbling for me. Here I am thinking I’m smarter than Solomon and I got this shit all figured out, he shows me that and I go ‘ohhh smokes.’

“Traditionally, what do pitching coaches do?” The answer to Alan Jaeger’s question came quickly: “Mechanics,” I replied. “They teach mechanics.” As the obvious follow up question “How do we teach a pitcher good mechanics?” lingered in my head…slow down…what even are good mechanics?

Thinking I could find an answer to these questions, I went straight to video of the best pitchers in the world. First up, Clayton Kershaw, lower body mechanics. As I watched, I stared in disbelief. There is no way I would ever teach Kershaw’s lower body mechanics – scratch that – I would directly teach against the pause, the back knee out as he drives toward the plate, and the lack of extension in his front knee. Would I have been so foolish as to try to “fix” the best pitcher in the world? The thought alone was troubling.

  When going through an existential pitching coach crisis, the best remedy is to pick up the phone, call Tom House and Ron Wolforth, ask a question then shut up and listen. Here’s what they had to say.

  Tom House: “You kind of leave the throwing arm alone whenever possible. If a kid was throwing a rock at a rabbit to eat, his throwing arm action is pretty much genetically predetermined”

  Ron Wolforth: “I leave the mechanical stuff alone. I try to leave as little finger prints on my guys as possible. You will not see our guys cookie cutters or clones or anything like that. I just don’t believe in it. I also believe that we can’t see under the skin, so we don’t really know what’s occurring. We see guys with different mobilities, different strength, different movement patterns and so we don’t really know what’s going on.”

  These are not MLB pitching coaches adopting a hands-off approach to their multimillion dollar arms. These coaches deal with players of all levels and are among the most respected pitching gurus in the country, yet one prefers to never address the throwing arm and one opts to leave the mechanical stuff alone. Don’t pitching coaches teach mechanics? Why are these coaches considered among the best at their profession if they don’t teach what pitching coaches teach? Or maybe, we, the ones who constantly try to turn our players into something they are not, are the ones who have it all wrong.

  As the slightly more pro-mechanical mind of the two, House explains that, “biomechanical efficiency is a function of three things (in order of importance): timing, kinematic sequencing, and the mechanical variables pitching coaches have been trying to teach for a hundred years. He continues, “I think most of the issues that take place with mechanics are because they are not timed properly.” Instead being concerned with unsightly still-shot positions, House is more concerned with how the entire delivery fits together. When does the inverted W take place? How is it sequenced in the context of the entire delivery? To House, these questions are much more important than seeing a still shot of an inverted W and immediately jumping to a conclusion that the pitcher is destined for the disabled list.

  In Wolforth’s view, “So often people want to talk about what the car looks like rather than what the car does. There’s a purpose for a car and that’s to get you from point A to point B. Everybody’s so caught up in some of these ancillary things…God’s a better pitching coach than any of us.”

  When should a pitching coach make a mechanical change?

  With so much animosity towards teaching specific mechanical patterns to genetically and functionally different individuals, when does mechanical teaching factor in to the everyday activities of a pitching coach? For House and Wolforth, the answer is simple: pain.

  House explains, “When it comes to the pain thing, we believe, and our research shows, it usually falls into one of three or all three categories: biomechanical inefficiencies that will cause injury issues, functional strength inefficiencies, and workload issues.”

  The role of the pitching coach (and/or doctor) in this situation is to find out whether the pain is causes by mechanics, functional strength, and/or workload. If there are no issues with functional strength and/or workload, leaving mechanics as the clear source of the pain, the pitching coach should certainly step in and make adjustments.

  In Wolforth’s view, there are three criteria for making mechanical changes: pain, recovery, and performance. The champion of the phrase “start with the pain,” he believes “If you have no pain, if you recover very well, and you can perform…I would not change (a pitcher’s mechanics).” If you can do those three things, “isn’t that after all what you and I and everyone else is trying to get after?”

  There clearly are situations where it is in the best interest of pitchers to deviate from their natural mechanics, but these situations, according to House and Wolforth, are the exceptions, not the rule.

  The Future

  Looking ahead, House is cautiously optimistic about the future for arm health. He asserts, “I think as a profession the pitching coaches are way better than they’ve ever been and as a profession the conditioning coaches are way better than they’ve ever been. Now we just have to figure out how to manage workloads so that these kids can have a healthy career rather than an unhealthy career.”

  Wolforth sees individuality as a key to the future, along with coaches’ ability to tailor their training to individual needs. He believes that in the next few decades, we are going “to be able to find out what is an ideal way for each individual.” More specifically, “What are the things that we should be concerned with while they are throwing? What should they be paying attention to? What feelings should they be focusing on that help guide, build, or shape their own delivery? I think that’s where we’re headed.”

  The theme of allowing the body to find its own ideal movement pattern is clear and features little to no room for interpretation. In the minds of two of the most brilliant pitching gurus in the country, the days of pitching coaches teaching nothing but mechanics should be on the way out and an era of natural, athletic, and biomechanically unique pitchers should be on its way in.

Wolforth says it best when he notes that although nothing is a guarantee, intervening only when there are issues of pain, recovery, and performance is “a pretty good firewall for me not to screw somebody up.” It may require a major philosophical change, but if coaches can swallow enough pride to avoid the temptation of turning every pitcher into a spitting image of the their ideal Platonic form of pitching mechanics, perhaps we can begin to embrace and not shun the so-called flaws present in the mechanics of even the best pitcher in the world. Perhaps we can allow pitchers to embrace their own signature throwing styles and put the cookie cutters away. Perhaps, and most importantly, we can shut up with our verbal mechanical cues that have little to no chance of sticking and instead find a way to help the hard-working player find their own, individual ideal movement patterns. If we do not listen, maybe Franz Bosch will be right: instead of allowing the best throwers in the world develop their own different styles, by mechanically making them into something they are not we may ruin the careers of the best throwers in the world.


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     The writer said:

01. "I brought him all the way over to the Ranch.
02. "Franz Bosche spoke to the coaches."
03. "Then, I brought him over again just to talk with our staff and me."

     That paragraph made me believe that Ron Wolforth was speaking.      However, throughout the article, Ron Wolforth talked about about his beliefs.      The writer said:

01. "The theme of allowing the body to find its own ideal movement pattern is clear and features little to no room for interpretation."
02. "In the minds of two of the most brilliant pitching gurus in the country, the days of pitching coaches teaching nothing but mechanics should be on the way out and an era of natural, athletic, and biomechanically unique pitchers should be on its way in."

     The writer referred to Ron Wolforth and Tom House as two of the most brilliant pitching guros in the country.

     Nevermind.

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0107.  How to identify and when to eliminate mechanical flaws in pitchers
Sporting News
February 12, 2016

“Start with the pain,” Ron Wolforth of the Texas Baseball Ranch preaches. A strong advocate of mechanical freedom and individuality in the delivery, Wolforth acknowledges that players with pain, trouble recovering after throwing, or struggling to perform are candidates for specific mechanical changes.

In the eyes of Tom House of the National Pitching Association, pain is typically a result of at least one of three things: biomechanics, functional strength, and workload. He notes that in many cases, “If they have had histories of stiffness or soreness on the front side of their elbow or front side of their shoulder, most of the time the front side is a mechanics issue.” Contrarily, “If they have chronic stiffness or soreness on the back side of the elbow or the back side of the shoulder, most of the time that’s a functional strength issue.” It is the job of the player, coach, and doctor to identify the cause of the pain and make the necessary adjustments, sometimes including mechanical adjustments.

In the event that a player is experiencing pain, poor recovery, or poor performance as a result of mechanical flaws or inefficiencies, what are specific mechanical flaws to target and eliminate? The list below is not necessarily exhaustive, but features seven of the most publicly discussed flaws, along with commentary from two mechanical experts on the legitimacy of these flaws.

Note that while eliminating flaws can have positive effects for pitchers experiencing pain, changing the natural mechanics of pitchers able to throw without pain, with efficient recovery, and with quality performance can present a greater risk to the health and performance of the pitcher than simply leaving them alone.

1. Inverted W

Description: The pitcher pinches the scapulae together so much that the arms and upper torso resemble the shape of an inverted W (yes, it also looks similar to an M).

Tom House: “Everybody talks about the inverted W being bad, do they bring up someone like Don Drysdale? Pedro Martinez had an inverted W. They don’t talk about those guys but they draw from a visual. They draw an opinion about why this guy had a Tommy John.” In the cases when it is problematic, he continues, “It was the mechanics and the timing that was involved in getting the energy from foot strike into ball release, so its not the inverted W itself, it’s the timing that goes with that.”

Ron Wolforth has a similar view and grades the degree of flaws (or to use his word, disconnections). While a minor inverted W does not pose much of an issue, a pronounced inverted W taking place late in the delivery is a disconnection because the athlete must “move that arm and get it back to release in a very short amount of time, and that puts a lot of stress on both anterior shoulder and medial elbow."

2 & 3. Flat arm and elevated distal humerus.

Flat arm description: The throwing forearm is parallel to the ground at foot strike. To those who see this as a flaw, a flat arm is a sign of the arm being late, forcing the arm to cover a greater distance in a lower amount of time.

Elevated distal humerus (high throwing elbow) description: Instead of staying in a natural position, the distal humerus rises towards the end range of shoulder abduction during the beginning of shoulder external rotation, possibly placing additional stress on the anterior shoulder.

House does not see the flat arm as an issue but sees the elevated distal humerus as “a posture issue.” He notes, “If someone is told to get on top of the ball and their natural slot is a low three-quarters, you’re going to change their posture to get that arm up and the elbow would be above the shoulder.”

Wolforth sees these flaws, along with the inverted W, on the same spectrum of arm timing. He opines that the inverted W “is the most severely out of time,” the “flat arm would be next,” while the “elevated distal humerus is the timing is early.”

4. Forearm flyout

Description: As the arm moves forward into shoulder external rotation the angle in the elbow exceeds 90 degrees, resulting in a less-efficient arm path and possibly placing additional stress on the elbow.

House: “I think people are drawing conclusions about something that doesn’t necessarily help or hinder one way or the other…it will snap forward at an angle that will be determined by the eyes being level…forearm flyout is a really cool explanation of nothing.”

Wolforth: “Anytime a body part moves independently, that is it moves on its own in any way that is not in sync or in synergy with the rest of the body you have what is called a disconnection. Forearm flyout is certainly one of those.”

5. Premature pronation

Description: Pronating the forearm well in advance of release. This is often present in pitchers who point the ball to second base prior to shoulder external rotation and can result in additional stress on the elbow.

House: “Pronation happens at release point with all throwing athletes. Pronating before release point…the only reason you would want to do that is if you’re literally going to throw a changeup or a screwball.”

Wolforth: “Absolutely. We’re really searching for a packed humerus, where the humerus is siting normally and naturally in the glenohumeral joint, and anything that takes it and twists it and puts it in odd positions, that’s not good.”

6. Crossing the Acromial Line

Description: The acromion is the small ridge on top of each shoulder and the acromial line is an imaginary line connecting them. The flaw refers to crossing this line with the baseball, possibly placing additional stress on the anterior shoulder.

House: “If their front side shoulder was prematurely rotating then that shoulder capsule would really be in stress because the whole throwing arm is behind the acromion. I would agree with that.”

Wolforth: “Where it starts is the relationship of the humeral head in the glenohumeral joint, so you can imagine if you take your arm behind your body, you can even feel your glenohumeral head slide forward and then that puts it at a disadvantage.” In the pitching motion, “As the shoulder is moving, if you’ve taken that humeral head and pushed it to the edges of that labrum…you put that soft tissue at risk.”

7. Early Torso Rotation

Description: This was not mentioned by House and added by Wolforth, who describes it as “The front side of the body opening prematurely…(which) can magnify a forearm flyout, inverted W, or elevated distal humerus.

Wolforth believes, “The body should stay connected as long as it can and not get unraveled until the throwing shoulder gets past the glove side shoulder.” If not, “You’re now going to have trouble throwing a fastball to the extension side, you’re going to have extra stress on medial elbow and anterior shoulder, and the only way to get the ball to the extension side is to have a posture change and really yank the ball over there.”

Wrap

Although there are some agreements, the disagreements between two of the brightest pitching coaches in the country tell us that it is exceptionally difficult for anyone, even those as intelligent as House and Wolforth, to attribute pain, poor recovery, or poor performance to specific mechanical flaws. Is it still worth working to eliminate flaws in pitchers who struggle with pain, recovery or performance? That is not for me to decide.

Be your own judge, do your own research, and keep an open mind. But most importantly, be right. House and Wolforth illustrate the difficulties in finding an objective right answer, but as these are career-changing decisions for our athletes, we cannot afford to be wrong. We must consider the specific athletic profile of each individual and correctly identify the root cause of any issue — be it a mechanical flaw, functional strength, mobility, workload, or something else. Start with the pain, do your homework, be right, and give each pitcher their best chance of enjoying a healthy and effective career.


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     The editor of the Sporting News asked Ron Wolforth and Tom House about the following: 1. Inverted W
2. Flat arm
3. Elevated distal humerus.
4. Forearm flyout
5. Premature pronation
6. Crossing the Acromial Line
7. Early Torso Rotation

     Too bad that the editor failed to interview the guy that first explained the importance of the pitching upper arm vertically beside the pitchers head, the necessity of straight line drive, driving down the acromial line and rotating the hips and shoulders forward together over the glove foot.

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0108.  Mets’ Mejia handed permanent suspension
MLB.com
February 12, 2016

NEW YORK, NY: Former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia became the first player in Major League Baseball history on Friday to earn a lifetime suspension for performance-enhancing drug use. MLB issued a lifetime ban to Mejia following his third positive test for a PED, linking him with Pete Rose as the only people actively serving the league's harshest punishment.

Mejia, 26, tested positive for Boldenone, while in the midst of a 162-game suspension for using both Boldenone and Stanozolol. The pitcher's second and third positive tests occurred while he was serving earlier suspensions.

Mejia's agency offered no comment on his behalf, but the Mets issued the following statement regarding his suspension: "We were deeply disappointed to hear that Jenrry has again violated Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

We fully support MLB's policy toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the sport. As per the Joint Drug Program, we will have no further comment on this suspension."

When the Mets' clubhouse officially opens for business at that time, the same brand of shock and disappointment that rippled forth from Mejia's previous two suspensions will be present. Once a top prospect who broke into the big leagues at age 20, Mejia battled injuries for years before becoming a reliable late-inning reliever in 2014. He entered 2015 as the team's closer, but another injury forced him to the disabled list after Opening Day. It was while sidelined that Mejia first tested positive for Stanozolol, saying at the time that "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."

Mejia's season ended three months later following a second suspension, and his career now closes with a 3.68 ERA and 28 saves in 113 appearances. Though the Mets considered non-tendering Mejia this winter, they offered him a contract knowing he would be eligible to return in late July; had Mejia made the team at that time, he would have been entitled to just south of $1 million through arbitration.

Most recently, he was pitching for Licey of the Dominican Winter League, which is not among a group of affiliated professional sports leagues in Japan, Korea and elsewhere that honor MLB suspensions. Mejia will no longer be eligible to pitch in such leagues, but at age 26, remains young enough to build a career in any domestic or foreign independent leagues that choose to employ him. Though Mejia can apply to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement, he must first sit out a minimum of two years.

It is a type of ban that is nearly unprecedented. Only on the rarest of occasions has the league banned players for life: most famously eight members of the 1919 White Sox, for fixing games; several others in the fallout of that scandal; Rose, in 1989, for gambling; and now Mejia. Others, such as team owners George Steinbrenner and Marge Schott, received lifetime bans that the league later overturned, while baseball's pre-modern era included many examples of permanent bans, typically for gambling-related offenses.

Mejia's previous 162-game suspension at the time matched Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for the longest PED ban in league history, but Rodriguez served his suspension and later returned.

Barring reinstatement, Mejia no longer has that option. In their former pitcher's absence, the Mets will continue to rely on Jeurys Familia, who developed into one of the game's top closers after taking over from his suspended friend and teammate last April.


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     Unfortunately, instead of completing my 270-Day Adult Baseball Pitchers Interval-Training Program, Mr. Jenrry Mejia chose banned drugs.

     If he had, then he would never again suffer pitching injuries and increase his release velocity and consistency and master the wide variety of high-quality pitches with which to challenge the four types of baseball batters.

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0109.  Tanaka: Opening Day status to be determined
MLB.com
February 12, 2016

TAMPA, FL: Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka said on Friday that he "can't really say" if he will be ready for Opening Day until he resumes throwing off a mound and then in Grapefruit League games.

Tanaka had surgery this offseason to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. As such, the 27-year-old is not ready to commit to being on the mound for the Yankees' opener on April 4 against the Astros, as the team expects to handle him cautiously this spring.

"We'll take it day by day," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I feel that I can't really talk about that at this point. I just want to see myself going to the bullpen, get the innings in, see how I feel."

Tanaka played catch on flat ground for about 15 minutes at the Yankees' Minor League complex on Friday morning, and he said that he was able to follow an offseason throwing program after the procedure. The Yankees have said the bone spur dates back to Tanaka's career in Japan.

"I didn't feel it overly when I was actually pitching, it was more so about after pitching," Tanaka said. "I felt there was a little bit more inflammation in that area. My thought process was that if we're able to take that bone spur off, we might be able to get not so much inflammation."

Tanaka, who went 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 starts last year, clarified that he has not yet thrown off a mound, as pitching coach Larry Rothschild indicated that he had last week. Tanaka said that he could do so this weekend at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Rothschild said Friday that though the team will be careful with how it handles Tanaka, he believes the hurler will be ready for the first turn through the rotation.

"We've got so much time that if there's bumps in the road, I don't think it's going to be an issue," Rothschild said. "We're not going to try to push him through anything, even if it's something that seems like it doesn't mean much. We won't try to push through that."

Tanaka said that he does feel "perfectly healthy" and "doesn't even think about" the partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow that he has continued to pitch through.

Tanaka is looking forward to bouncing back from what he called a "frustrating" second year in pinstripes that included a stint on the disabled list for a right forearm flexor strain and right wrist tendinitis. He missed a September start due to a strained right hamstring and lost to the Astros in the American League Wild Card Game.

"I'm still at the stage of building myself up toward the season, but I feel it's going to be a better season," Tanaka said.


  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Masahiro Tanaka had surgery this offseason to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow."
02. "The bone spur dates back to Tanaka's career in Japan."

     It is good to know that the baseball pitching coaches in Japan as ignorant as the baseball pitching coaches in the USA.

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0110.  New head protection for pitchers on the way
MLB.com
February 12, 2016

The campaign to protect pitchers from potentially dangerous line drives hit right back at them has taken another step forward.

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have collaborated on a new design for protective headgear that will be unveiled this spring. The development was first reported by ESPN.

MLB vice president Patrick Houlihan told "Outside the Lines" that the new design is "a hybrid of a cap and a helmet." They will be customized for each player, weigh 10 to 12 ounces and have a carbon-fiber shell. They will look something like a sun visor with extended coverage of the temple and forehead and a single ear flap.

The protection will be thickest in the areas that are most susceptible to catastrophic injuries, according to Boombang, the company hired to design and produce the devices, which will be worn under the standard New Era nylon caps.

About 20 pitchers are scheduled to receive prototypes this spring.

This will be the third spring that some sort of protection was available for pitchers. In 2014, isoBLOX received MLB/MLBPA approval for a padded cap. Last spring, the company introduced a soft shell to be worn over the regular cap.

Neither caught on, largely for cosmetic reasons. The headware was safe but it looked funny. Only Alex Torres, who pitched for the Mets and Padres and ended last season in the Minors, wore it in games.

"Our new product is not in any way, shape or form to elbow out isoBLOX," Houlihan told ESPN. "We hope this creates a market and we'll have multiple companies making great products."

On Thursday, isoBLOX told ESPN that improvements to their product will be unveiled this year.

Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb, who suffered a mild concussion and experienced vertigo for two months after he was hit in the head in 2013, helps illustrate the difficulty in getting pitchers to make the switch. He endorses isoBLOX caps for youth baseball. He tested the Boombang product last year and gave it a thumbs-up. But he's still not willing to commit to wearing it in games.

As Indians pitcher Jeff Manship told ESPN: "I'm definitely one of the guilty ones. I want to have it look right, which sounds terrible when you're talking about safety, but that's how it is."

Five MLB pitchers were struck in the head by line drives last year, four of them in the face. None of the new caps protect the facial area, but line drives to the side of the head are considered more life-threatening.

Houlihan and MLBPA assistant general counsel Bob Lenaghan told ESPN they are optimistic the pitchers will take a liking to the new protective system and hope it will lead to usage in games, which will then lead to more pitchers requesting their own.

Boombang CEO Tyler Garland said his company's inserts passed laboratory impact testing at 85 miles per hour and are "almost certainly" safe at higher velocities. Even batting helmets, which are thicker and heavier, are not certified to protect above 100 mph.

Unlike batting helmets, head safety gear is not mandatory for MLB pitchers. They may wear any device they want as long as it isn't deemed to interfere with play or conflict with licensing agreements.


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     The article said:

01. "The campaign to protect pitchers from potentially dangerous line drives hit right back at them has taken another step forward."
02. "Five MLB pitchers were struck in the head by line drives last year, four of them in the face."
03. "None of the new caps protect the facial area, but line drives to the side of the head are considered more life-threatening."

     The only way for baseball pitchers to avoid getting hit in the face is to take another step.

     With my baseball pitching motion, my baseball pitchers rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot, instead of over the pitching foot.

     That extra step enables baseball pitchers to get both feet on the ground before their pitches cross home plate. In addition, the extra steps enable baseball pitchers to stand sideway which enables baseball pitchers to turn their face away from the batted baseball.

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0111.  Injured Stanford pitcher Fixes His Gaze on Big Picture
New York Times
February 13, 2016

STANFORD, CA: Cal Quantrill took his moment to be downright mad. Sad and emotional, too. He called home to tell his parents his elbow was seriously hurt and he needed surgery, and then he broke down in the car while parked outside Stanford’s Sunken Diamond stadium.

“It was devastating,” Quantrill said, sitting in the stands of the campus ballpark after a recent throwing session. “It was hours and hours of work and things I had changed to put myself in a position that I could make a difference last year, and it was all taken away.

“I sat there for about 15 minutes — sad, angry, it’s not fair, this or that. And what I realized, literally 20 minutes later, it doesn’t help anything. Wallowing away, being sad, sorry for myself, wasn’t going to fix anything. I needed the 15 minutes to recoup and just get that emotion out.”

That is when Quantrill, the son of former the major leaguer Paul Quantrill, began his comeback quest in earnest. He had Tommy John surgery and celebrated each step — however small — in his recovery. He rededicated himself to school, baseball and other important parts of his life.

“I wasn’t going to just take a break,” he said. “It wasn’t going to be eight months or 10 months of me doing nothing, kind of just sitting around.”

His plan has not changed. Quantrill, a junior, intends to pitch again for Stanford this season and to be drafted in June. He believes his velocity might even be higher once he returns. Scouts are still projecting him to be a first-rounder, even if they will not be able to fully evaluate Quantrill until he is back pitching games in April or May.

Not that Quantrill’s future professional career is all that is fueling him at this stage. He cannot wait to help Stanford again, especially in Mark Marquess’s 40th season coaching at his alma mater. Quantrill’s father has helped him realize the importance of taking each step and keeping everything in perspective.

“My goal is to be a No. 1 pitcher in the big leagues,” Quantrill said. “The draft is a part of the process. To deny that it’s a big day in your life, I think, is silly.

“But my dad and I have talked about this a lot of times, and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly with what he says: It’s a split second. It’s one day. Yes, I want to go as high as I can possibly go. Yes, I would love to make as much money as I could possibly make. But that isn’t what this game is to me. It’s not about one day in the middle of June, it’s about one day in the middle of June in six years when I’m on a big league field. That’s what I’m looking at.”

With that, Quantrill blew into his right hand on a breezy winter day at Sunken Diamond, then started unleashing throws from about 80 feet — not as hard as he can yet, but that day will come soon enough.

He sat in the dugout surrounded by teammates, hands folded and resting on his knees as he listened to Marquess. Quantrill had gone straight to the practice field from an afternoon class and jumped into tarp duty with gusto along with any other jobs needed to prepare the diamond. Everybody is optimistic he will be ready to pitch before season’s end.

Everybody is optimistic he will be ready to pitch before season’s end.

“It’s a year,” Marquess said. “They come back stronger than ever.”

Paul Quantrill, who finished his big league pitching career in 2005 after 14 seasons, agreed.

“Cal’s doing great — right on schedule, but too slow for his liking,” he said. “He’ll follow doctor’s orders and be good as new.”

When Cal Quantrill walks to the mound again in a Stanford uniform, he has a swagger his teammates count on to get them all going.

“He brings another energy,” said Daniel Starwalt, a right-hander recovering from shoulder surgery. “You’re not worried when Cal’s pitching. He’s got this aura or sense about him that he’s going to take care of everything. That’s mostly what makes him. He’s obviously got a great arm, but I think it’s that confidence that really makes him stand out from everybody else.”

Quantrill will aim to be patient until that day arrives. He cannot wait to throw off a mound, perhaps late next month. He hopes this injury is a mere hiccup in a long and successful professional career.

“In the grand scheme of things, it was a very small moment for me,” he said. “This isn’t going to stop me, it’s so irrelevant in the big picture, and that’s what’s made me feel so good now about how it’s gone.”

He added: “I’m in a great place now. I love throwing. I don’t play baseball to run laps and work out. I play baseball for getting on the mound, throwing the ball and hanging out with my buddies playing catch. That’s always been what’s fun for me. Now I have that back, so it feels like we’re making strides.”


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     The article said:

01. "Not that Quantrill’s future professional career is all that is fueling him at this stage." 02. "Mr. Quantrill cannot wait to help Stanford again, especially in Mark Marquess’s 40th season coaching at his alma mater."      Stanford head baseball coach, Mark Marquess, said:
01. “It’s a year.”
02. “They come back stronger than ever.”

     Coach Marquess said, "they' come back stronger than ever. This means that Coach Marquess has had other baseball pitchers rupture their Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     Stanford should be ashamed that their head baseball coach does not know how to prevent Ulnar Collateral Ligament ruptures.

     Let me make it clear.

     To prevent rupturing their Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers need to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     I provide pictures.

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0112.  Pineda eyes 200-inning goal for 2016
MLB.com
February 13, 2016

TAMPA, FL: Michael Pineda wants this to be the season in which he puts it all together, and the right-hander arrived in advance of the Yankees' Spring Training camp with a clear mission in mind: to complete 200 innings for the first time in his career.

"For me, this year, I'm coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year," Pineda said at the club's Minor League complex. "I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team."

Pineda, 27, was 12-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 27 starts for the Yankees last season, striking out a team-leading 156 batters against just 21 walks in 160 2/3 innings. His 8.74 strikeouts per nine innings ranked seventh in the American League.

Although Pineda showed flashes of dominance, including a memorable 16-strikeout performance against the Orioles on Mother's Day and 10 more strikeouts against the Rays on July 4, injuries again interrupted his year as he landed on the disabled list with a right flexor forearm muscle strain from July 30 to Aug. 26.

Still, Pineda was able to turn in an innings total that was the second most of his career, just shy of the 171 innings that he worked as a rookie with the Mariners in 2011.

"Last season was a great season for me," Pineda said. "I'm pitching a lot of innings, and I'm happy with that. Now it's a new year, new season is coming, and I want to be ready and prepared for having a great year."

In an effort to stave off the injuries that have limited him to just 68 big league starts thus far -- he did not pitch in the Majors in 2012 or '13 -- Pineda said that he constructed a gym in his Dominican Republic home, where he was able to work out without distractions.

"My biggest goal this season is, No. 1, try to be healthy for pitching the whole year," Pineda said. "I'm a young guy, but every year you're getting older. I'm 27 right now, so I'm getting one year older. I'm a young guy, but every year you have to learn how to get better and better."

Pineda said that he is also excited to have the Yankees' powerhouse bullpen behind him, with closer Aroldis Chapman set to join the tandem of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

"Good pitching," Pineda said. "When we're pitching six, seven innings, we have a great percent for winning the game with these three guys in the bullpen. It's awesome."


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     The article said:

01. "In 2015, Micheal Pineda showed flashes of dominance."
02. "Mr. Pineda had a memorable 16-strikeout performance."
03. "On July 30, Mr. Pinedas landed on the disabled list."
04. "Mr. Pineda strained his flexor forearm muscle."

     Mr. Pineda releases his breaking pitches over the top of his Index finger.

     When baseball pitchers release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger, they cannot contract the Pronator Teres muscle, the prominent flexor forearm muscle.

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0113.  Gamecocks pitcher out for the year
The State
February 16, 2016

South Carolina pitcher John Parke will miss the 2016 season after an MRI revealed an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of the left elbow, USC announced Tuesday. Parke will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday.

The junior made 11 appearances last season without allowing an earned run. He went 2-0, giving up five hits, while walking 10 and striking out 10 in 9 1/3 innings of work.

As a freshman Parke made four appearances, allowing no runs and one hit over 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and finished with three strikeouts.

Parke attended Greenville High School and was rated as the No. 415 overall prospect in the nation for the 2013 MLB Draft by Baseball America.


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     After nine weeks, Mr. Parke should complete my 120-Day High School Baseball Pitchers Interval-Training Program.

     With two months of off-the-mound, Mr. Parke will be injury-free and ready to be the best baseball pitcher he is able to become.

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0114.  As season nears, Boras and Marlins ready to zero in on Fernandez innings limit
Fox Sports
February 16, 2016

Even with new manager Don Mattingly and pricey free-agent signing Wei-Yin Chen, the Miami Marlins’ 2016 spring training likely will be defined by two questions:

Is Giancarlo Stanton completely healthy? And how many innings will Jose Fernandez be allowed to pitch? Stanton can answer with the quality (and durability) of his play, after missing the final three months of last season with a broken left hamate bone that required surgery.

With Fernandez, it’s a little more complex.

This is Fernandez’s first full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Scott Boras is his agent. And Boras was heavily involved in establishing plans for clients Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey after they had the same operation.

Boras said Monday that he’s already had initial conversations with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and baseball operations president Michael Hill about Fernandez’s workload. “There’s going to be a range (of innings) discussed with the team and the doctors involved,” Boras said.

Hill, for his part, said Monday in an email that the team has formulated a “tentative game plan . . . that we will review with Jose in spring training.” Hill added that the Marlins’ baseball operations department, team medical staff, Dr. Neal ElAttrache (who performed the surgery), and Fernandez himself have had -- or will have -- voices in the decision-making process.

So, the parties agree a consensus is necessary. That’s good. But the ultimate number -- which caused so much controversy for Harvey last fall -- remains unknown. Boras and the Marlins sparred early in the offseason about how much influence Boras could have on Fernandez’s workload; they reconciled in time for Chen, a Boras client, to sign a five-year, $80 million deal with the Marlins. Now the Fernandez issue is back.

The Marlins, according to one source, will be reluctant to place a hard cap on Fernandez before the season, preferring to agree on a range that could be scaled based on the number of stressful innings encountered during the year.

If the Marlins use Harvey’s 2015 season as precedent, Fernandez’s limit could be around 180 innings.

The reasoning: Harvey threw 189-1/3 innings last year, not including the postseason. That was an increase of 11 over his previous career high. Fernandez’s career high is 172-2/3 innings; a similar increase would place his workload in the low 180s.

Of course, the circumstances aren’t identical. Harvey’s rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery was more deliberate, which probably improved his stamina down the stretch in 2015. Fernandez had the added complication of a biceps strain last year after his initial return from the surgery.

Soon, the stakeholders will meet in Jupiter, Fla., and arrive at a plan for the Marlins’ ace. Philosophies and justifications will be put forth, but ultimately the baseball industry wants to know the number. And we’ll bookmark it, of course, just in case the 2016 Marlins prove to be as surprisingly relevant as the 2015 Mets.


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     If Jose Fernandez pendulum swings his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion, then Mr. Fernandez will be able to pitch as long as he wants.

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0115.  For Stephen Strasburg, free agency -- not extension -- awaits
Fox Sports
February 16, 2016

When the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg prior to the 2012 postseason, they believed doing so was in the best interest of his long-term health. More than three years later, they’re about to be proven correct: Strasburg, 27, is poised to be the top free-agent pitcher in the 2016 class.

In that sense, the Nationals have preserved his future earning potential — very possibly with another team.

Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, confirmed to FOX Sports on Monday that the sides aren’t in active talks about a contract extension as spring training begins. It’s highly unlikely that will change before the season is over.

“We amicably agreed to a one-year deal (for 2016),” Boras said. “He’s going to pitch, and we’ll see where it goes from there. It’s something we’ll be discussing at the end of the year.”

Among pitchers to throw at least 500 innings over the past three seasons, Strasburg ranks 11th in adjusted ERA.

“The Nationals have done a great job with him,” Boras said. “They’ve listened to the doctors, and all you can ask of a team is that they listen to the doctors. They have. Stephen and the team have benefited from that.”

Strasburg’s 127-1/3 innings in 2015 – he battled neck and oblique strains -- were his fewest since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2011.

Still, there’s reason to believe he can surpass the 200-inning mark this year, for what would be the second time. Boras said Strasburg is fully recovered from minor surgery in October to remove a non-cancerous growth from his back, which had bothered the right-hander while pitching; Boras said Strasburg’s offseason workouts have been completely normal since.


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     If I were Stephen Strasburg, I would never sign with Mike Rizzo's Nationals team.

     I warned Mr. Rizzo about clubhouse orthopedic surgeons.

     They have no idea what causes pitching injuries nor how to prevent them.

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0116.  Martinez feeling strong, confident in shoulder
MLB.com
February 17, 2016

JUPITER, FL: The session was short -- about 15 pitches, Carlos Martinez estimated -- but the implications are much more significant for the Cardinals right-hander.

Martinez, as he has each of the last two seasons, begins Spring Training with something to show. This time, however, it's not proving that he's deserving of a rotation spot, but rather that he's healthy enough to fill the one set aside for him.

After a winter of strengthening the right shoulder that ailed him last September, Martinez returned to the mound for the first time on Monday and repeated the exercise on Wednesday, the team's official report date for pitchers and catchers. Martinez has thrown solely fastballs to this point and estimated his effort to be at "80 percent."

Once command of his fastball returns, Martinez will begin mixing in his offspeed pitches and increasing the intensity.

"I'm so excited because I feel I'm coming back again soon," Martinez said. "I feel pretty strong. I've been working since November. I feel different than last year."

Manager Mike Matheny said the club does not plan to push Martinez as quickly as it has in recent years. The Cardinals want to protect against injury and feel confident in the stability of Martinez's shoulder before loosening the reins. The organization also realizes that it has enough time before Opening Day to proceed cautiously.

"It was smart that he was fluid," Matheny said after watching Martinez throw. "He wasn't trying to do too much, which I think is a step in the maturity, too. Especially a guy with horsepower, they always want to show it. He seems very regimented in what he's trying to accomplish."

Despite the slower buildup, Martinez, barring setbacks, is expected to be an active member of the rotation when the Cardinals break camp.

"I think right now he's right where he needs to be," Matheny said. "That doesn't even concern me a little bit. He should be in a good place when we take off, and that's what we're looking for."

Martinez threw a career-high 179 2/3 innings while making 29 starts as a full-time member of the rotation for the first time. The workload may have contributed to the shoulder strain, which presented itself late in the season. Martinez lasted six pitches in his Sept. 25 start and was a non-factor in the postseason.

He spent most of his offseason rehabbing at the club's Jupiter complex so that his work could be monitored.

"Now, I feel nothing at all," Martinez said. "Now I feel strong, and I think my shoulder is good."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Carlos Martinez spent his winter strengthening his pitching shoulder."
02. "Mr. Martinez returned to the mound for the first time on Monday."
03. "Mr. Martinez has thrown solely fastballs at "80 percent" intensity."
04. "The club does not plan to push Martinez as quickly as it has in recent years."
05. "The Cardinals want to feel confident in the stability of Martinez's shoulder."
06. "In 29 starts, Mr. Martinez threw a career-high 179 2/3 innings."
07. "The workload may have contributed to Mr. Martinez's shoulder strain."
08. "In his September 25 start, Mr. Martinez lasted six pitches."

     To prevent pitching shoulder injuries, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0117.  Bailey after surgery: 'It's like nothing ever happened'
WCPO.com
February 17, 2016

GOODYEAR, AZ: Homer Bailey doesn’t know the exact plan for him once spring training starts, but he does know he’s ready to handle a semi-normal load.

Bailey, the lone veteran of the Reds pitching staff, had Tommy John surgery on May 8. Bailey, 29, says he’s fully recovered.

“It’s like nothing ever happened,” he said.

That doesn’t mean Bailey will prepare like a pitcher that isn’t coming off surgery. The normal recovery period is 12 to 14 months. The Reds have pointed to May as the date when Bailey rejoins the rotation. That means he’ll progress slower as far as building up his inning load.

“I’m not sure what the plan is, honestly,” Bailey said. “I’ve already thrown off the mound twice before I got here. Everything went well.”

Pitchers and catchers officially report Thursday. They will get their physicals Thursday morning, then work out Thursday afternoon.

Bailey has had two tough years physically. He was limited to 23 starts in the 2014 season due to forearm problems. He had surgery on Sept. 23 to repair a torn flexor mass.

That slowed him during spring last year. He made one rehab start and two starts for the Reds. He suffered the tear in the second.

Bailey is further along at this point this year than he was last year.

“I didn’t throw any bullpens before I got here,” he said.

Bailey has been surprised by how well the comeback from Tommy John has gone.

“I have been — quite a bit,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse. But everything has gone really smooth.”

The Reds are leaning on Bailey to lead the young pitching staff, and he’s comfortable with that role. He was the one veteran at the “pitching summit” the Reds held in January. Fifteen of the top prospects were invited as well.

“It was good,” Bailey said. “It went really well. It was good to get to work with some of those guys.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Homer Bailey has had two tough years physically."
02. "Due to forearm problems, Mr. Bailey started only 23 games in the 2014 season.
03. "On September 23, 2014, Mr. Bailey had surgery to repair a torn flexor mass."
04. "On May 08, 2015, Mr. Bailey had Tommy John surgery."
05. "Mr. Bailey believes that he is fully recovered."

     Mr. Bailey injured his flexor mass as a result of releasing his breaking pitches over the top of his Index finger and contributed to rupturing his Ulnar Collateral Ligament.      To rehabilitate from Ulnar Collateral Ligament replacement surgery, Mr. Bailey needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     If Mr. Bailey continues to release his breaking pitches over the top of his Index finger, then Mr. Bailey will continue to have flexor mass problems.

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0118.  Harrison won't be in Phillies' camp
CSNPhilly.com
February 17, 2016

CLEARWATER, FL: Phillies camp will open on Thursday without ailing pitcher Matt Harrison.

“We’re not expecting him in Clearwater,” general manager Matt Klentak said on Wednesday.

This is hardly a surprise. Harrison, 30, has been plagued by a serious back issue the last three seasons. He had spinal fusion surgery in 2014 and was able to pitch in only three games for the Texas Rangers last season before going on the disabled list.

The Phillies acquired Harrison along with five prospects for Cole Hamels in July. The Phillies knew all about Harrison’s health history at the time of the trade. They viewed taking on the remaining $33 million of his contract as the price it took to get prospects Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and Alec Asher.

Harrison has two years and about $28 million remaining on his contract. A “significant” amount of that is insured, according to multiple sources.

Klentak said Harrison was examined by a back specialist earlier this week.

“We’re not expecting him to be here any time soon, if at all this year,” Klentak said. “If things go well, we’ll be happy to get him back, but the reality is we’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode and we have to let it play out.”

Phillies pitchers reported to camp on Wednesday, a day ahead of Thursday’s first workout.

Reliever Yoervis Medina, acquired from the Pirates for Jesse Biddle, did not arrive because of a visa issue that could take a couple of weeks to resolve.

Another reliever, Mario Hollands, is throwing from a mound a little more than 10 months after Tommy John surgery. He said he is on schedule in his recovery, but might not be ready to go until a couple of weeks after opening day.


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     Matt Harrison needs to stand tall and rotate his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot.

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0119.  Interesting News

Just lately, a certain chiropractor that was introduced to you in Bradenton by my son, and works with my son, has entered into a contract to be the Team Chiropractor for a certain MLB Team in our local area.

His contract with the team forbids him to use their name in any promotion of his chiropractic business, so you will see no advertising of the relationship with an MLB team on his website or any other advertising media.

But this really provides a great opportunity to make inroads to professional baseball with your pitching model.

He hired our son because he needs someone of his caliber of knowledge and pitching experience to help in evaluating and communicating with high level pitchers.

After meeting you and getting immersed in the results of your research, he is finding that hiring our son, who is 100% "Marshallized" even more invaluable now than he expected.


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     This reminds me of December 12, 2007 when a representative for a major league team asked me if I could join their team for spring training to teach the baseball pitchers how to prevent pitching injuries, only to never be heard again.

     I wish success to all involved.

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0120.  Interesting News

We certainly hope it works out.

He has to alter his entire practice, because he will be required to be at every home game this season.

They have requested video of specific training routines to be sent to their team trainer.

He used my 23 year old son as the subject and sent the video to them last week.


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     Wow, now the chiropractor and your son have to be at all home games during the championship season.

     Do they have to do anything during spring training?

     In the video does your son use my wrist weight exercises, throw the six pound iron ball and 'horizontally sail' the Lid?

     The focus should be to teach their baseball pitchers how to pronate the releases of their breaking pitches.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, February 28, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0121.  Interesting News

I believe they have this set up as a step by step process.

I do not know the specifics of the video, but it included arm and body movements that are in accordance with what you prescribe.

Baby steps.


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Thank you.

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0121.  New Rangers' pitching candidate Griffin says "The sky's the limit"
Dallas Morning News
February 18, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: The biggest offseason addition to the pool of starting rotation candidates has not pitched in two years. A.J. Griffin is convinced, however, that he is finally able to resume a career that was quite promising until being sidelined by Tommy John surgery in 2014.

"As long as I'm feeling good, I think the sky is the limit," Griffin said Wednesday. "I think I can be ready by the start of the season. But regardless of where I end up to start the season, I feel like there is good opportunity here to contribute to this team this season."

The Rangers re-signed Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch this offseason, but added only Griffin and former reliever Cesar Ramos as external candidates to crack the rotation. Griffin has a 200-inning season to his credit. Of the 12 rotation candidates in camp, Griffin is one of five to be able to make that claim.

He pitched five innings for Oakland on Sept. 24, 2014 to reach exactly 200 innings, then went down with elbow problems the following spring. He underwent Tommy John surgery on April 30, 2014, returned to the mound (albeit on a minor league rehab asssignment) on June 2, 2015. The 13-month recovery was on the quick side, as 14-15 months is considered the norm. And perhaps that is why four starts in, he felt shoulder tightness and didn't pitch again. Griffin said he was diagnosed with nothing more than muscular tightness. An MRI in January showed both a clean shoulder and elbow, Griffin said. He is not expected to be limited in spring training.

"I think I tried to come back too come back to quickly and it when it got tight, I got frustrated and shut it down," Griffin said. "But that [200-inning] guy is still in there. I'm driven. I just want to be out there and compete. The last two years have been terrible. You want to be out there and able to help your guys."

Oakland designated him for assignment in November and then released him a week later. The A's, Griffin said, showed no desire to bring him back on any level. The Rangers signed him less than a month after he was released.

"The way the Rangers perceived me really made me feel good," Griffin said. "They indicated they thought I could come here and potentially contribute right away. There were spots open for me to compete. They were aggressive."

One stat that stands out about Griffin: Home runs allowed, especially considering he pitched in pitcher-friendly O.Co Coliseum. Griffin led the AL in homers allowed with 36 in 2014, but 27 of those homers came with nobody on base. He is an extreme fly ball pitcher, allowing 1.3 fly balls per ground ball for his career. That could be alarming at Globe Life Park, which tilted a little more towards being an offensive-friendly park in 2015 after a couple of seasons of being basically neutral.  In two career starts in Arlington, however, he has allowed just one homer, a solo shot by Geovany Soto in 2013.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "A.J. Griffin underwent Tommy John surgery on April 30, 2014."
02. "Mr. Griffin returned to the mound (albeit on a minor league rehab asssignment) on June 2, 2015."
03. "The 13-month recovery was on the quick side."
04. "Oerhaps that is why four starts in, he felt shoulder tightness and didn't pitch again."
05. "The Medical Staff diagnosed Mr. Griffin had nothing more than muscular tightness."
06. "An MRI in January showed both a clean shoulder and elbow."
07. "Mr. Griffin is not expected to be limited in spring training."

     To cure Mr. Griffin's shoulder's tightness, Mr. Griffin needs to turn the back of his pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot.

     To prevent injuring his replacement Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Griffin needs to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the medial epicondyle muscles before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0123.  Lewis pedals his way to fitness
MLB.com
February 19, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: Colby Lewis said the first day on his road bicycle was tough. But when you spend $10,000 to get started, you don't quit after just one ride.

"I told my wife, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to do that,'" the Rangers right-hander said Friday at Spring Training camp. "I was breathing through my mouth and my throat was burning and my body didn't want to cool down. A couple of days later, though, I got back on the bike and I didn't stop."

Lewis became a cycling maniac in his hometown of Bakersfield in California's San Joaquin Valley. He worked up to 200 miles a week riding his S-Works Tarmac through Hart Park and along Round Mountain Road in the countryside.

Bakersfield is at the southern end of the valley, where the Sierra Nevadas to the east converge with the Tremblor Range and the San Andreas Fault to the west. It is part of one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world, and when El Nino roars through in the winter -- leaving snow on the mountains and rinsing away the smog -- it can lead to ideal conditions for a three- to four-hour bike ride.

"It's relaxing for me," Lewis said. "The other day I went on a 60-mile ride, there were grapes on one side of me, the oranges were in bloom, it was awesome. It smelled great. I was relaxing and enjoying myself."

Lewis was not taking a joy ride, and cycling is not a whimsical hobby along with his passion for rebuilt automobiles and NASCAR. The bike has become an important part of his conditioning and rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his right knee in October.

Dr. Keith Meister, who did the operation, told Lewis that his knee couldn't take much more pounding from running. Meister's suggestion was a road bike, and Lewis also had a buddy in Bakersfield suggesting that he get one. Lewis, who is 36 and the oldest pitcher in camp, finally hopped on board.

"Every year you get older you are trying to find new ways to put yourself in condition," Lewis said. "I'm going to keep on doing it after I retire. It's a sport I really enjoy."

Lewis injured the knee in May and pitched in considerable discomfort for most of the 2015 season. He still made 33 starts and led the Rangers with 204 innings pitched. But he wasn't able to do his normal conditioning program, and his weight went up to 265 pounds. Cycling reversed it, and Lewis reported to camp at 239 pounds, which is where he was at in his first couple of years with the Rangers in 2010-11.

"He looks good," manager Jeff Banister said. "He has a great look on his face. His smile and energy, the way he is walking around, he looks great."

Most important, Lewis said the knee feels great and he was able to throw his bullpen session on Friday during the Rangers' first official workout for pitchers and catchers.

"My knee has felt unbelievable since I started riding," Lewis said. "It's all about getting in shape and getting ready to go, but I still have to do baseball stuff. Riding a bike is not going to make me a better pitcher. I still have to do my normal baseball stuff."


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     All training is specific.

     When Lewis Colby rides a bike, he trains the muscles that he uses to ride a bike.

     To competitively pitch major league baseball, Mr. Colby needs to competitively pitch major league baseball.

     Whether riding bike helps Mr. Colby competitively pitch major league baseball is yet to know.

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0124.  Orioles face unique situation of developing Bundy at major league level
Baltimore Sun
February 19, 2016

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has seen a little bit of everything as he enters his 18th year managing in the major leagues, but said he has never had a situation quite like the one he currently faces with pitching prospect Dyland Bundy.

Bundy, the Orioles' first-round draft pick five years ago, enters spring training having exhausted all of his minor league options, so if he's healthy, the team must carry him on its 25-man active roster. But injuries have limited Bundy to just 17 minor league games over the past three seasons.

So the Orioles will attempt to carry the 23-year-old Bundy in the bullpen this season as he builds his inning count. The organization still believes he can become the front-line starter it hoped he would be when taking him fourth overall in the 2011 draft, but first he must pitch regularly again, and he must do so at the major league level.

"It's some uncharted territory," Showalter said. "I'll tell you, it's like a Rule 5 guy. You take him, they're going to pitch. He goes north, he's pitching, and the other team is going to tell us whether he's very good or not. The toughest thing for us will be if he's healthy and not effective. It's not good.

"I'll be frank with you. We're going to have to take it as it goes. Now, I just want to see him get on the mound, have a good look on his face. He's got that extra quarter inch. He's excited. I told him … 'The cup's half full. It's time to go. You've got all these things behind you. Look how much you realize how fleeting it all can be. Let's go.' He deserves some good things to happen to him."

Bundy hasn't pitched in a minor league game since May 21, his final start before shoulder soreness eventually led to him being diagnosed with a calcification in his right shoulder that ended his season. He returned for two appearances in the Arizona Fall League, but experienced forearm tightness and was shut down early as a precautionary measure.

"Every time you get hurt, you want to get back sooner and better, but you can't rush these things," Bundy said. "I've learned that over the past four, five years now."

This past season's injuries were just the latest chapter for Bundy, who has struggled to remain on the mound since being fast-tracked to the majors in 2012. He threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings as a September call-up that season, but he needed elbow ligament reconstruction (more commonly known at Tommy John surgery) in 2013. After returning from surgery in June 2014, Bundy made just nine starts at Short-A Aberdeen and High-A Frederick before a lat muscle strain ended that season.

Bundy arrives at camp this season without any physical restrictions. He threw off a half-mound at last month's minicamp in Sarasota and has been throwing full bullpen sessions. He will throw his first bullpen session of spring training Saturday.

"I can pretty much do whatever I need to," Bundy said Friday. "[I can] actually go out there and work on pitches and not have to worry about my arm and get out there and compete."

Bundy has logged just 63 1/3 minor league innings since Tommy John surgery, and that includes 22 innings at Double-A Bowie this past season. The Orioles have 30 pitchers in camp this spring, but Showalter said Bundy will get the innings he needs to be ready to pitch in the major league bullpen, whether it's in Grapefruit League games, "B" games or minor league camp games. Showalter indicated Bundy could receive multiple-inning outings.

"We will figure out ways for him to get him innings," Showalter said. "It depends how hard you want to work — I'm talking about us — and how innovative you want to be with it. We'll get the innings. Twin Lakes is a short distance for them to come over here and for us to go over there. We've got a minicamp up and running over there."

Out of Bundy's 17 minor league outings since Tommy John, he has gone four or more innings nine times, and just once in his eight 2015 starts at Bowie. But the Orioles would still like to get Bundy to a position where he might start. That likely won't come soon, but Showalter isn't ruling it out.

"You'd like to figure out a way to get him back into a starting pitcher mode," Showalter said. "That situation is not going to present itself initially, but who knows? The only thing you worry about is the lack of innings. You can't start a guy that's only going to throw 70 innings on a year. I think we're trying to take one step at a time where, 'OK, let's make sure he's healthy, and this is the way we like him, and if he's healthy, we can feel confident he can help us.'"

Showalter is known for thinking ahead, and said sending Bundy to winter ball next offseason could be an option to prepare him for a spot in the 2017 starting rotation. But the Orioles' main priority will be plotting Bundy's innings to ensure he remains healthy.

"I will tell you that number is probably not attainable by him physically this year," Showalter said of the innings Bundy would need to start. "It could be at some other point in the season, but to start the year, knowing that X number of innings, you're going to have to slow down. It's a pretty proven, tried formula that you're asking for trouble if you do that. We'll see. I hope he has a great year, and we're all trying to figure out how far can we push him."

So now, Bundy will get adjusted to a bullpen role for the first time in his career. He will have the help of a veteran relief corps that will include All-Stars Zach Britton and Darren O'Day.

"For this year, I guess you can say I'm getting into that mentality right now," Bundy said. "As a bullpen guy, you never know when you're going to get in the game. You've got more adrenaline, you've got to be able to control the adrenaline. You've got to throw an off-speed pitch first pitch of the outing that you come out, just stuff like that."

Bundy must overcome several steps to meet his once-lofty potential, but the Orioles still have high hopes that he can fulfill the promise of being rated the second-best prospect in baseball heading into the 2013 season.

"I'm looking at it that he's going to pick up where he was a couple of years ago before all this happened and remind everybody why he was so well thought of," Showalter said. "All of a sudden, everybody will be going, how lucky we are to have an arm like that in the bullpen, and how are we going to figure out a way for him to start? That's where I'm hoping we get to."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Dylan Bundy hasn't pitched in a minor league game since May 21, 2015."
02. "Shoulder soreness eventually led the Orioles Medical Staff to diagnose Mr. Bundy a calcification."
03. "That ended Mr. Bundy's season."
04. "Mr. Bundy returned for two appearances in the Arizona Fall League."
05. "Mr. Bundy experienced forearm tightness."
06. "The Orioles Medical Staff shut Mr. Bundy down early."
07. "In 2013, Mr. Bundy needed elbow ligament reconstruction."
08. "In June 2014, Mr. Bundy made just nine minor league starts."
09. "A Latissimus Dorsi muscle strain ended Mr. Bundy's 2014 season."
10. "Mr. Bundy arrives at camp this season without any physical restrictions."
11. "Mr. Bundy threw off a half-mound at last month's minicamp and has been throwing full bullpen sessions."
12. "On Saturday, Mr. Bundy will throw his first bullpen session of spring training."

     Unfortunately, in the major league, Mr. Bundy will not receive the competitive pitching that he will need to become the best baseball pitcher he is able to be.

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0125.  Pirates' Cole dealing with rib inflammation
WTAE.com
February 19, 2016

BRADENTON, FL: On the first day of spring training, Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole already was behind schedule.

Due to inflammation on his right rib cage, Cole was limited to flat-ground throwing on Friday when pitchers and catchers held their first mandatory workout at Pirate City.

Cole is expected to throw from the slope of the mound on Monday.

"It's just a modified throwing program at this point," Cole said. "I'm not too far behind everybody else, but I feel good."

Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Cole was injured while training in mid-January.

"It was not a fall or a break or anything," Cole said. "It was something that kept nagging. It just got to a point where we needed to take a step back in order to come here and have both feet on the ground and move forward."

Last season, Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting. He started the wild-card playoff game and gave up four runs in five innings in the 4-0 loss against the Chicago Cubs.

This year, Cole and left-hander Francisco Liriano are the top two arms in the starting rotation. The Pirates acquired left-hander Jon Niese from the New York Mets in December and also signed 38-year-old Ryan Vogelsong. Jeff Locke, who went 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA, will be the No. 5 starter.

Top pitcher prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon are ticketed to start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. Taillon, a former first-round pick, has been out since 2013 due to Tommy John and hernia surgeries.

Other depth options for the Pirates include Kyle Lobstein, Wilfredo Boscan and Juan Nicasio.

Cole said he is not worried about not being ready for the start of the season.

"Every time you get hurt or have a setback like this, you end up starting at ground zero and learn something about your body," Cole said. "You end up coming out the back end better for it."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "While training in mid-January, Gerrit Cole injured the lower rib cage on the pitching arm side."
02. "Mr. Cole did not a fall or a break or anything."
03. "Mr. Cole had something that kept nagging."
03. "It just got to a point where Mr. Cole needed to take a step back."

     Baseball pitchers with Oblique Internus Abdominis strains have them on the glove arm side of the Rib Cage.

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0126.  Mets being cautious with young rotation in spring
MLB.com
February 19, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL: Over the past half-decade, the Mets have assembled perhaps the best starting rotation in baseball. Their current dilemma is how to keep the entire group healthy.

It is perhaps the most important task the defending National League champion Mets face, both this spring and into summer. But they have an idea of how they'll accomplish it.

"I think we've tried to make it clear that going into this season, we're going to be mindful of their health -- not necessarily looking at innings limits, but at the same time, making sure that they are as strong and healthy and capable as possible throughout the season," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We may do some things this year that we did last year just to ensure that. But I think with any pitching … this day and age, as hard as many guys throw, and as hard as our guys throw, we've got to be very careful about them."

In the short-term, that means holding back Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz from their first rotation turn in Grapefruit League games. Instead of those stars, fans will see Sean Gilmartin, Rafael Montero, Robert Gsellman and others. Even once the Mets' top starters do begin pitching, the team will be mindful of every last ache and pain they might be feeling.

"I don't think it will be major changes, but little tweaks that will hopefully keep the burden to a minimum early in Spring Training," Alderson said. "We'll see how that translates early this season as well."

The idea is that once Opening Day hits, Mets starters won't face the types of innings limits that shackled them during the regular season last year. Avoiding injury is an obvious goal, but the Mets also hope their pitchers show no signs of fatigue coming off career-high innings totals. Harvey, for example, threw 37 2/3 more innings than ever before in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. DeGrom also eclipsed his previous high by 37 2/3 innings, while Syndergaard racked up 65 2/3 more than in 2014. Only Matz did not blow past his previous totals, but that was largely because of a series of injuries -- all the more reason to watch him in 2016.

"We've got to get them ready, but it will be a slower process," manager Terry Collins said. "And we will be careful of them early in the season, because we expect them to be pitching in October again."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Mets general manager, Sandy Alderson, said:

01. "We are not necessarily looking at innings limits."
02. "We will make sure that they are as strong and healthy and capable."
03. "We may do some things this year that we did last year just to ensure that."
04. "As hard as our guys throw, we've got to be very careful about them."
05. "We don't think it will be major changes."
06. "Hopefully, little tweaks that will keep the burden to a minimum early in Spring Training."
07. "We'll see how that translates early this season as well."

     Mr. Harvey still releases his breaking pitches over the top of his Index finger.

     That will be a worry.

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0127.  Eovaldi says elbow woes are behind him
New York Daily News
February 19, 2016

TAMPA, FL: After missing the final month of the season with an elbow injury, Nathan Eovaldi was looking forward to pitching out of the bullpen during the American League Division Series.

But instead of authoring a more satisfying ending on his first year in pinstripes, Eovaldi watched his team get blanked by the Astros, abruptly ending his season.

“Especially the season I was having last year, you never want to go down getting hurt,” Eovaldi said. “That was frustrating, not being able to finish the season healthy."

The elbow is no longer an issue for Eovaldi, who went 14-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 27 starts last year.

“I haven’t had any problems,” Eovaldi said Friday morning before the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers took the field for the first official workout of the spring. “Especially going back home in the offseason, the first time I picked up a ball was Dec. 10, so I had a good month and a half off and I was doing shoulder care. I haven’t had an issues with it. If I didn’t know I had it, I wouldn’t know I was hurt.”

Having made a relatively successful transition to the AL, the 26-year-old is excited about what lies ahead in his second year in New York.

Although his .824 winning percentage led the AL last year, Eovaldi noted that his walks were up and his innings were down, so there are plenty of areas for him to improve.

The splitter will be a key for Eovaldi, who hadn’t thrown the pitch before the end of the 2014 season. He was pleased with its effectiveness during the second half last year, a 14-game stretch that saw him go 9-1 with a 3.43 ERA.

Eovaldi’s locker is located next to Aroldis Chapman’s, prompting someone to ask Eovaldi – whose average fastball of 96.6 mph last season was the hardest of any pitcher in the majors that threw at least 100 innings – if he had ever lockered next to anyone that threw harder than him.

“This is the first time,” Eovaldi said. “I’m excited to see him throw.”

He’s also excited to see what Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller can do at the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen, but that doesn’t mean he’s aiming for a six-inning outing every time he takes the ball.

“I still want to go as deep as I can in the ballgames,” Eovaldi said. “But you get to that sixth inning and you definitely feel like you’ve got a really good shot at winning the ballgame.”


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     The article said:

01. "Nathan Eovaldi missed final month of the 2015 season with an elbow injury."
02. "Mr. Eovaldi's elbow is no longer an issue."
03. "The first time Mr. Eovaldi picked up a ball was on December 10, 2015."
04. "Mr. Eovaldi had a good month and a half off."
05. "Mr. Eovaldi was doing shoulder care.'

     Mr. Eovaldi had an elbow injury that did not include his Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     Mr. Eovaldi releases his breaking pitches over the top of his Index finger.

     Mr. Eovaldi will again suffer an elbow injury.

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0128.  At the request of a reader, I am presenting the nonsense that the orthopedic surgeons et al present. Keep in mind that nothing they say makes any sense.

Warbird Academy

HOME BLOG ABOUT TEAMS CLIENTS PROGRAMS SHOPBOOK NOW LESSONS LEARNED AT THE ASMI BASEBALL CONFERENCE
WRITTEN BY DAN BLEWETT
FEBRUARY 08, 2016

Each year, Lucas and myself plan a continuing education trip that will help us further our knowledge as coaches. The quality of care that we can provide increases directly with our understanding of what the medical and therapy fields are doing.

There’s a trickle-down effect:

Especially with pitching and the vast injury rates, it’s important that we continue to keep up with what’s going on above us, so that we know how to help prevent and rehabilitate when pitchers are sent back down the rungs of the rehab ladder.

So, for 2016 we decided we would go to the mac daddy of them all: The 34th ASMI Injuries in Baseball Conference.

FROM WHOM WE LEARNED:

Man, what grammar I have. Anyway, it was fascinating to hear the lectures and techniques of the world’s experts, including but not limited to:

Dr. Andrews (Rays, Surgeon)
Dr. ElAttrache (Dodgers, Surgeon)
Dr. Shepard (Angels, Surgeon)
Dr. Romeo (White Sox, Surgeon)
Dr. Akizuki (Giants, Surgeon)
Stan Conte, DPT (Formerly Dodgers)
Mike Reinold, DPT, Strength Coach (Formerly Red Sox)
Ken Crenshaw, ATC (Head Athletic Trainer, Diamondbacks)
Brandon McDaniel, CSCS (Dodgers Strength Coach)
Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Biomechanics expert, ASMI
Dr. Rafael Escamilla, Biomechanics and physical therapy, ASMI

In this article, I’ll go into 11 interesting things we learned and our recommendations for parents at the end.

1. THROWING IS INHERENTLY DANGEROUS.

Ulnar Collateral Ligament (The Tommy John ligament, or UCL) stress in the elbow goes up with every mile per hour – there’s no way of avoiding this, despite what some folks will proclaim about being able to throw as hard as you want as long as you do X, Y, Z. If you want to throw really hard, prepare to have an injury along the way – it’s what the statistics show will happen.

Don’t just think about how often you’re pitching – think about how often you’re throwing at max or near-max effort.

2. RETURN TO PRIOR LEVEL IS NOT THE SAME AS RETURN TO PRIOR PERFORMANCE LEVEL.

For Tommy John surgery, the amount of Major League pitchers who return to their previous level of play is in the 75-80% range. For returning to prior performance level, rates decrease.

Surgery isn’t just about returning to step foot on a field, but about being good again, right? It’s not as easy as people think to regain skill as told by ERA, WHIP and other measures. For most players it takes 2-3 years to return to previous statistical skill level, if they do at all. What’s scary about the chart below, is that in the study to the right, it explains that 1/3 of all pitchers failed to pitch in more than 10 games at their previous level when they returned. 10 games is not a good outcome.

There isn’t statistical data on minor league or amateur pitchers as to their return to previous skill level, though rates of “return to previous level” is slightly higher than in the pro ranks. This is probably because amateurs can return to their previous level as long as they can physically walk out onto the field – they aren’t subject to getting released or demoted like pro players are.

In essence, amateurs can return if they are physically able, but pro players have to both be physically able and have a team want to sign them. The higher level at which you play, the more likely you are to be replaced while you’re out rehabbing.

3. LABRUM SURGERY OUTCOMES ARE NOT GOOD, ESPECIALLY AT RETURNING PLAYERS TO THEIR PREVIOUS SKILL LEVEL.

The labrum is a connective tissue structure that helps hold the shoulder in the socket. It’s often injured in overhead athletes through overuse and laxity issues. Coming back from labrum surgery is very difficult.

In one of the studies shown above (and found here), out of 27 operative pro pitchers, only 7% returned to their previous level of performance. Rehab, though not always successful, produces similar outcomes to surgery in labral tears.

4. MAX-EFFORT, HIGH-VELOCITY THROWING STRESSES THE UCL AND SHOULDER THE MOST, WHETHER IN PRACTICE OR IN GAMES.

In conversations with a number of experts at dinner, it was discussed that the common “winter velocity program” may be more risky than competitive pitching, and contributing to overuse. This is especially true for all of the young, immature, pitchers who are doing it.

This topic resonated with me, in part because I used to do more velocity-focused throwing with our pitchers back in 2011 and 2012. Our winter pitching program shifted in 2013 to reduced throwing volumes and a primary focus on mechanics and off-speed pitch development. Whether or not it’s currently the trendy thing to do, I decided a few years ago to let kids grow into their velocity more and spend my time focusing on making them better pitchers, not harder throwers. Turns out, they all throw harder, with time, anyway.

All pitchers do have to slowly ramp up in intensity, as they need to be conditioned enough to safely throw hard during the season. But, I was happy to hear that the shift we made a few years ago reflected current thinking on the medical side, especially as more and more videos of kids throwing 100mph from sprinting crow hops appear on social media.

Throwing velocity is, and will always be, a factor in successful pitching and position play. Every MLB shortstop can likely throw in excess of 90mph across the diamond when he needs to. Higher pitching velocity allows for a pitcher to get away with more mistakes. So, it needs to be part of a player’s development. But, the best minds are saying that these gains in velocity should come more from mechanics instruction, quality strength and conditioning programs and a significant throwing arm care program (strengthening the hands, forearms, scapula and rotator cuff).

5. A REGULATION BASEBALL MAY BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN A WEIGHTED BASEBALL.

Dr. Glenn Fleisig presented some biomechanics findings on basic weighted ball research, and his results showed that forces on the shoulder and elbow were higher on lighter balls. I asked him, “Is a pitcher more likely to hurt his arm throwing a 6oz ball 85mph, or a 5oz ball 90mph?” He replied that the research indicated that the 6oz ball thrown 85mph would be safer than the lighter ball thrown harder. His study used 4, 5, 6, 7oz baseballs, and forces were highest on the lightest balls, lowest on the heaviest balls.

So, though many parents and coaches condemn the use of weighted balls in training, they appear to be safer than regulation baseballs. Shoulder and elbow injury rates are lower in football and softball players, so current research seems to explain why that is – heavier balls produce lower arm forces. The lighter balls are what we need to look out for, as they increase forces on the arm.

6. WE NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON TALLER, HARDER-THROWING YOUNG PITCHERS.

You’re taller and throw harder than everyone? Great! You’ve won the genetic lottery. But, it comes at a price.

As a youngster, being tall and throwing hard are two factors that were identified as correlating with injury risk. This makes sense, as taller athletes can generally produce higher forces with a still immature body, compared to their peers. Being smaller and producing less velocity gives the pitcher more time to grow into a body that can handle high velocities. It’s great to throw harder, younger – it gets kids onto all-star teams, into college and on the draft card. But, it comes at a price and we need to limit these kids rather than running them into the ground.

7. UCL REPAIR MAY BECOME A WIDELY VIABLE SURGICAL TECHNIQUE.

Until now, any torn UCL that failed rehab either required retirement or reconstruction. A few surgeons have been performing UCL repair – suturing and reinforcing the UCL with hopes (and so far, good outcomes) that the ligament heals and can return the athlete to play in about 6 months, as opposed to the median return time of 14 months for Tommy John surgery.

This was really interesting to me, as I’d never heard of it before (about 75 have been performed, with success rates above 80%) and it provided many hopeless kids who didn’t need or want a full reconstruction a chance at finishing their career.

The surgeon explained that UCL repair was indicated for those who weren’t intending on playing many years in the future – much like the high school junior who is injured and wants to pitch in his senior year, but doesn’t have plans of playing in college or the pros. For pro athletes who need their elbow to make a living for 5 or 10 more years, he said not enough is yet known about longterm outcomes for it to be an appropriate choice. But for those who need a solution that appears to work well in the short-term, repair is looking like a successful, albeit new, option.

8. REHAB THROWING PROTOCOLS NEED AN OVERHAUL.

warbird rehab program

Rehab throwing programs were discussed at length in a few presentations, as well in after-hours conversations. The standard throwing protocol used in surgical rehab that is given to almost every throwing athlete in the country following a surgery. It has limitations such as:

The pitcher’s pre-surgical velocity
Ways to limit overthrowing
When throwing should begin
What happens after month 9 in the program
Should long-toss be integrated
How much mound work can be integrated
What cold-climate players should do when outdoor throwing isn’t possible

Arbitrary measures of efforts such as 50%, 75%, etc.

One top PT explained that he uses radar to limit pitchers and keep their velocity progressing slowly, and he said this has helped him get better rehab results. This was the same thing I did in my second surgery, and it undoubtedly helped me; I now write velocity-based throwing programs for everyone who rehabs with us, so that we can limit and progress them more objectively.

9. GROWTH PLATE RESEARCH IS VERY LIMITED.

We see 1-2 athletes each year get some discomfort with growth plate inflammation, so I was hoping to see some research on it. But, basically research on the bones of young athletes is limited because methods of testing them aren’t very good, and cadaver studies aren’t a good option. Growth plate inflammation can occur in any player with open growth plates, and in general it’s treatable with rest from painful activities. Increasing the strength of muscles around the joint helps to reduce symptoms and prevent recurrence.

10. SEASONAL REST IS NEEDED; MORE ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER, THOUGH.

Seasonal rest from throwing should be 2-3 months in length. But, this doesn’t mean that we should shut everyone down for half the year – more rest is not necessarily better beyond the recommended 2-3 months off. A proper return to throwing program that slowly builds up is better than resting for 4 months, then jumping from zero to full speed in four short weeks, as this will also lead to angry arms. Everything should be progressive.

My recommendation, (seen in our winter program) calls for 8-12 weeks of slow build up, so that the body can tolerate hard throwing when it’s ready for it, just like the pros do before the season.

In general, a year should look like this:

6 month season
2-3 months rest
3-4 months slow build up to practice, improve mechanics and off-speed, and get ready for next season.
Visit MLB Pitch Smart for more of their research-driven guidelines.

11. VELOCITY DEVELOPMENT COMES FROM A NUMBER OF FACTORS.

Pitching mechanics (or throwing for non-pitchers)
Appropriate, progressive strength and conditioning
A quality arm care program (hands, forearm, scapula and rotator cuff).

Growing into their velocity with all of the above

His talk was very practical and I agree that we can’t squeeze out more than is there, and we should be teaching good mechanics while reinforcing the body and the throwing arm through strength and conditioning. We should not be forcing velocity out through year-round velocity programs. Rather, we can expect incremental, progressive, and safer gains in velocity as a player grows up and matures.

But, not all weight lifting programs are the same, and many will set a young athlete in the absolute wrong direction. Quality strength and conditioning will prevent injuries and prepare a young athlete to withstand the stress placed on his or her body.

SUMMARY: A LOT ISN’T KNOWN.

It was really interesting to hear many of the world’s top experts on surgery, biomechanics and rehab discuss how many uncertainties there are. Each surgeon does surgery his own way, each PT rehabs patients in his or her own way. They certainly all adhere to maxims of good technique and good care, but much of the roundtable discussion was the experts sharing their own techniques and asking about the techniques of their colleagues. But, the thing that united all of the world’s greats was their dedication to improving patient outcomes and to researching the best methods and learning from one another.

We also heard some of the horror stories – surgeons cutting the wrong things during surgeries, or performing surgeries on patients who were clearly not good candidates for a certain type of surgery, or surgery at all.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS TO PARENTS:

Visit MLB’s Pitch Smart website. Learn about overuse, pitch counts, etc.

Find a quality strength, conditioning and arm care program, and ask questions. Very few after-school programs will qualify as this, and few sports performance facilities will have the expertise in baseball players to institute quality arm care.

Seek an expert Orthopedic doctor and PT when your child has pain or an injury. Unfortunately, most rehab programs are garbage compared to what the industry leaders are providing. A drive to your nearest big city is always worth it.

I suggested this to an injured collegiate pitcher last year and he avoided a major surgery on his second opinion and won’t miss this spring season.

Demand more from your son’s coaches. They need to know everything about pitch counts, and acceptable rest periods for pitchers. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be allowed to coach. This information is readily available to anyone, especially coaches. We include ourselves in this – we need to be well informed so that we make good decisions with the young athletes for whom we care.


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     These psuedo-intellects got it right when the admitted that they do not know a lot.

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0129.  Arietta content with innings limit
Chicago Tribune
February 20, 2016

  Jake Arietta admitted last year that his goal was to pitch the eighth and ninth innings of every start in 2015 -- a mission that helped him win the National League Cy Young Award.

But after throwing a career-high 248 2/3 innings but feeling fatigued in his final two playoff starts, Arrieta concurrs strongly with the Chicago Cubs' plans to move back his spring starts and curb his workload early in the 2016 season.

"Even if it means going six or seven innings through a certain amount of starts to let our big arms in the bullpen come in and do their thing and hand the ball to (Hector) Rondon or whoever is there to finish games, those games are much more important than for me to get eight or nine innings," Arrieta said Saturday after the Cubs' first workout for pitchers and catchers.

"It looks good on paper, but a ring looks a little bit better at the end of November."

The Cubs simply want to preserve their ace, who compiled a 22-6 record and 1.77 ERA during the regular season. Arrieta and manager Joe Maddon met recently to review the team's plans for him.

"Last year I think my mindset was I want the eighth and the ninth inning every time out," said Arrieta, who threw a league-high four complete games before blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates in an intense NL wild-card game. "Looking back on it, toward the end of the season and last two starts specifically, I had a noticeable point there where I could tell I was a little out of gas.

"Going into this season, it’s very wise to monitor things early in the season to preserve things for October and so on and so forth. As nice as it is to complete games as a starter, it’s even nicer to pitch meaningful innings in October, as I now know from last year’s experience."

The Cubs are extremely careful with Arrieta after his workload leaped by 92 innings from the 2014 season.

"I think it’s a benefit," Arrieta said. "As a young pitcher, you kind of have that build up, whether it’s 20 to 40 innings a season. Mine was more of a unique situation where I went from (1560 to around 250, including playoffs. So it’s a big jump.

"But I try to account for as many things as I can to decrease my risk of injury -- proper training and conditioning and conditioning my joints to able to handle a certain amount of stress. I was able to bounce back incredibly well. Had a normal off-season. Throwing progression has been identical to last year. Everything is pointing in a very positive direction."


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     Jake Arietta pronates his breaking pitches.

     Therefore, Mr. Arietta will not injure his pitching elbow.

     To pronate the releases of breaking pitches, baseball pitchers have to engage their Latissimus Dorsi muscle.

     Therefore, Mr. Arietta will not injure his pitching shoulder.

     However, Mr. Arietta still pulls his pitching arm across the front of his body. That makes Mr. Arietta's curve move down and inward to the glove arm side pull hitters.

     To stop pulling his pitching arm across the front of his body, Mr. Arietta needs to learn how to throw my Maxline Fastball Sinker.

     I would like to know who taught Mr. Arietta to pronate the releases of his breaking pitches.

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0130.  McCullers training for 2016’s ‘heavier workload’
MLB.com
February 20, 2016

HOUSTON, TX: The gym was closed one day, so Lance McCullers had to improvise. The Astros pitcher had kept up his workout routine during his honeymoon trip late last year with his wife, Kara, and he wasn't about to disrupt things.

McCullers put his new bride on his shoulders and did three repetitions of squats right there in the middle of the hotel room.

This was no time for cutting corners, no time for taking a day off. McCullers understands he needs to continue to get better as he tries to capitalize on a breakthrough rookie season with the Astros in which he went 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts.

Even if that meant packing up medicine balls and stretching bands and taking them with him on his honeymoon to Italy. Even if it meant running through the streets of Rome, Amalfi, Florence and Venice to find a gym, get a workout in and walk back to the hotel.

"You go on a two-week vacation right at the end of December, early January, and that's right in the middle of go time," McCullers said. "I wanted to make sure I could find a gym in every city we were at. There was really no other way, other than running places over there. They don't have a whole lot of cars, so I was running to gyms over there in Italy."

McCullers, who threw a combined career-high 157 2/3 innings between Double-A Corpus Christi and the Astros last year, is one of a handful of pitchers the Astros will have on individualized throwing plans this spring to help with rest and recovery.

While the team treats his arm with caution, McCullers made his sure his body was in tip-top shape in the winter. At home in Tampa, he worked out twice a day, six days a week with trainer Nicole Gabriel. McCullers also swung an axe during the winter to strengthen his core.

"I'm just trying to prepare my body, along with my mind, to be as strong as I could for the season coming up," McCullers said. "It's a long year, but trying to prepare myself to handle that workload. I wanted to continue to build off of my previous offseason, which is really good for me, and wanted to continue to get strong and be able to handle that workload, because it's going to be a little heavier this year."

It's important to remember that this is McCullers' first big league camp. The son of former Major League pitcher Lance McCullers, the 22-year-old hadn't pitched above Class A ball this time a year ago. Called up from Double-A last year, he had one of the best seasons by a rookie pitcher in team history, and even threw an 11-strikeout complete game on June 3 against the Orioles.

This year, the Astros are banking on him to eat up innings in the middle of their rotation.

"My biggest goal is just be able to handle that workload," he said. "That's the big topic, the big thing A.J. [Hinch] and I keep talking about, how we're going to handle that. My biggest thing is just go out there every day and compete and make sure I'm doing what I need to stay healthy."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     I am all for every day training, but squats are not good for the knees.

     Instead, Lance Jr. needs to do my wrist weight exercises and throw the heavy ball every day.

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0131.  Scheppers to miss first half of season with knee injury
Sports Day
February 20, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: Tanner Scheppers lasted only a day.

The Rangers announced Saturday morning, before the second workout of the spring, that Scheppers will undergo surgery next week to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Scheppers injured the same knee early last spring, which led to a slow start to the season and ultimately a demotion to the minors.

A year earlier, his attempt to convert from reliever to starter led to an elbow injury that wrecked his entire season and ended that experiment.

Scheppers is expected to have surgery on Wednesday and will miss at least the first half of the season, general manager Jon Daniels said.

"He worked his butt off to come back," Daniels said. "[Team medical director] Jamie Reed was his throwing partner for a lot of the winter and said his arm has had as much life as its had in a while."

The injury to Scheppers is also a reminder as to how fickle bullpens can be and why the Rangers added more relief help this winter to a seemingly already deep bullpen with the signing of Tony Barnette and the trade for Tom Wilhelmsen.

"It sounds impersonal to say, but you know something is going to happen to somebody out there," Daniels said. "You just don't know who or when. It's impersonal to put it that way, but it's very personal to Tanner."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Before the second workout of the spring, Tanner Scheppers tore cartilage in his glove arm side knee."
02. "Next week, Mr. Scheppers will undergo knee surgery."
03. "Mr. Scheppers injured the same knee early last spring."

     To injure the menicus in the glove (landing) knee, Mr. Scheppers has to land closed and rotate his body over it.

     To prevent injuring the glove knee, baseball pitchers need to land on the heel of their glove foot.

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0132.  Hedges using strobe glasses to improve reflexes
MLB.com
February 21, 2016

PEORIA, AZ: As a 22-year-old in the big leagues for the first time, there were, as you might expect, many times last season when Padres catcher Austin Hedges wished he could slow the game down.

"It's not that easy, though," Hedges said. "There are only so many ways that you can slow the game down."

Hedges may have found another way.

Hedges and Padres strength and conditioning coach Brett McCabe started playing with a pair of Nike strobe glasses in the offseason, after Hedges saw Golden State Warriors' guard Steph Curry using them for drills, dribbling a tennis ball with one hand and a basketball with the other.

The two have devised a way for catchers to use the glasses during drills, with the intent of overloading the central nervous system and improving read-and-react time.

The glasses offer eight different settings (easy to difficult) that control how long the lenses are open, as they flicker from clear to opaque.

The drill the team has used this past week involves the catcher facing a wall in his crouch as a coach stands behind him with a tennis ball. The coach bounces a tennis ball off the wall with the catcher attempting to grab it with his bare hand.

"Since you don't know where it's coming from you've got to kind of react to it," Hedges said. "Honestly, it's one of the few drills I've ever done that when you put the glasses on it actually slows the game down.   "Doing it without [the glasses on] is tough enough, doing it with is really hard. But when you take the glasses off, it's like slow motion. [The drill] becomes really easy." Hedges said that once the glasses are removed, trying to catch that same tennis ball almost looks like a beach ball.

McCabe said it took between four and six weeks to find the best way to use the glasses to help catchers. McCabe said the team hasn't ruled out having position players use the glasses during some hitting drills.

Hedges already thinks the glasses are a hit, and he plans to keep using them throughout camp. "We call them failure drills, drills you're supposed to [struggle with]. But over time, you start getting good at them," Hedges said. "If you see a live pitch from someone nasty like Tyson Ross, maybe that sinker isn't as tough to catch because you've been doing certain drills that test your reactions.

"I kind of started liking more failure drills. You can do easy drills, but it's not going to get you a whole lot better. This is really testing yourself on something you are not very good at it and eventually getting good at it."


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     Like the catchers have nothing to do.

     Who will be available to catch bullpens?

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0133.  Weaver determined to rediscover his form
MLB.com
February 21, 2016

TEMPE, AZ: Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver leaned back against the green padding on the wall outside of the home clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium and crossed his arms.

Reporters with their recording devices stood to his left and his right. A television camera was positioned in front of his face. Angels pitchers and catchers reported Thursday, but Weaver, 34, who is the final season of five-year, $85 million extension with the Angels, waited until Sunday to address what everyone has been thinking.

"It's no secret, obviously. It's the last year of my contract. Who knows what happens after this?" Weaver said. "I'd like to play for as long as I can. But if I go through another season like last year -- with not just the frustration of the numbers but how my body felt -- your heart and your mind can only do so much.

  Sometimes, your body pulls the reins back and tells you you need to slow dow a little bit. That's kind of what happened last year. I was definitely motivated every time I would go out. I was still competitive. I still love pitching. Sometimes your body's just not on the same page."

Weaver had a physically trying season in 2015, and the numbers proved it. His fastball velocity dipped to the low-80s, he posted a career-high 4.64 ERA and struck out a career-low 5.1 batters per nine innings while going 7-12. He also finished with a 1.23 WHIP, his highest in six years.

"It was the first year I had something like that happen," he said. "First time I've ever had a losing record.

First time I hadn't had 10 wins in a season. It's frustrating. I wanted to go out there and battle as much as I could with what I had, and sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. But last year was just pitching with competitiveness, really. I was going out there naked, to tell you the truth. I was gonna go out there and take the ball. I was able to keep us in games sometimes, and other times it was pretty frustrating and kind of embarrassing."

  Weaver gave up 24 home runs in 159 innings, the 11th-highest rate in the Major Leagues. His velocity has been in steady decline, dropping from 87-88 mph from 2012-14 to an average of 84 mph in '15.

"'13 was kinda when the decline started happening," Weaver said. "I started feeling stuff tightening up through that season. I kinda fell off going into '14. When you feel good each and every start, it's great. But 10 or 11 years of bad maintenance as far as stretching goes has kinda caught up to me. Now it's time to break that down and try to get back to feeling good and feeling healthy again."

The 33-year-old arrived to camp earlier this week feeling rejuvenated after committing to a new daily program that includes 30 to 60 minutes of what he describes as "old school" stretching and flexibility exercises. The hope is that the regimen will help him to improve his pitch location and velocity. The long-term goal is to extend his pitching career. Weaver also resumed throwing this offseason on Dec. 1, a month earlier than usual.

"I felt really restricted last year. I think the hip had a lot to do with it," he said. "Now that I've kinda been stretching out and working out on my hip a lot more than I had been, a lot of things have freed up, as far as neck, shoulder, back. My body was real tight. Going through this process of stretching, I'm glad it's working and I'm feeling better now."

Weaver arrived to camp last spring bulked up. This spring, he said he "tried to get back to long and lanky again."

There are reasons for Weaver to believe he can have success again. He posted a 1.98 ERA in his final five starts in May last year. He threw six innings of one-run ball twice against the first-place Rangers late in the season.

"It's something that Weave has tried on and off, but he finally had enough time to really address some things," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His left hip, at times, would act up, with flexibility issues. Where he is right now, as far as how he feels physically, is exciting. Hopefully it's going to translate into what he needs to do on the mound. He feels very confident he will."

Weaver, who will turn 34 in October, admits stretching used to be "like nails on the chalkboard to me," but he's come to terms with his new reality. He said he feels five times better today than he did at this point last year, and he has started preaching the benefits of stretching with younger pitchers in the clubhouse.

"Who knows what unfolds after this year? I'm concentrated on getting through this year and concentrated on committing myself to the Angels, which I have for the last 11 years," he said. "I've given everything I have to this organization, but I'm not stupid. I know business becomes a part of the game at some point.

Whether the Angels want to keep me around or not, I can't say that I didn't have a blast here. Like I said, I've still got one more year left, and my focus is on committing myself to getting us where we know we can be, and that's in the World Series.”


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     Angels baseball pitcher, Jered Weaver, said:

01. "I felt really restricted last year."
02. "I think the hip had a lot to do with it."
03. "Now that I've kinda been stretching out and working out on my hip."
04. "A lot things have freed up, as far as neck, shoulder, back."
05. "My body was real tight."
06. "Going through this process of stretching."
07. "I'm glad it's working and I'm feeling better now."

     When baseball pitchers reverse rotate their hips and shoulders beyond second base, the pitching arm side hip grinds into the hip socket.

     To prevent pitching arm side hips grinding, instead of rotating over the pitching rubber, baseball pitchers have to rotate over their glove foot.

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0134.  Melancon, Hughes test new protective caps
MLB.com
February 21, 2016

BRADENTON, FL: Pirates closer Mark Melancon and reliever Jared Hughes tested out a new Major League Baseball-approved protective cap during Sunday's Spring Training workout. Both pitchers came away impressed, albeit with a split decision about whether they'll keep wearing it.

Hughes and Melancon sported the "Half Cap," created by a company called Boombang, as they threw in the bullpen and went through pitchers' fielding practice at Pirate City. MLB began asking pitchers in September if they wanted to try out the new model, and 20 big leaguers agreed to test them this spring. The design, comparable to a hard visor that protects a pitcher's temples, earned rave reviews from both pitchers.

The one drawback is the cap's appearance. It looks like a batting helmet with one ear flap and the top sliced off, and it prompted some wisecracks from Melancon and Hughes' teammates as they walked around in their new caps.

  The cap might look a little silly, but if appearance is the only barrier to safety, Hughes is fine with that. He plans to keep wearing the cap and will try it out during a Grapefruit League game next month.

"Honestly, when I weigh the pros and cons, still, the only things that are bad about it that I can think of is it might not look normal, and I might get teased. I could care less about either one of those," Hughes said. "Overall, it's going to keep me safer and it definitely felt comfortable."

Melancon has never had a close call with a comebacker, he said, but he has seen enough to appreciate the need for additional protection. Similarly, Hughes has been interested in the technology since 2012, and he has plenty of reason to give it a shot.

Hughes is a ground-ball pitcher, relying heavily on sinkers down in the strike zone. As a result, he tends to induce a lot of contact hit directly back toward the mound. In August, Hughes was nearly struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty. The ball grazed Hughes' cheek, but he somehow escaped without a scratch.

Melancon added that he respects any effort to improve pitchers' safety on the mound, and he liked the way the cap felt. He didn't noticeably tug at it or adjust it during his bullpen session.

Still, Melancon isn't so sure he'll keep wearing it.

"I'm one foot in, one foot out," he said. "The one foot out is only on the looks, but that's so shallow. ... In reality it's all about protection, so it doesn't matter what it looks like. It's just new, it's new to me, it's new to everybody."

Over time, Melancon said, he hopes the idea will become normal and accepted throughout baseball.

"I think it's something more guys are going to try. You just never know. You want safety," Hughes said. "It's going to be tough to start trying it because it's not normal. It's not something people are used to. But they probably said that about batting helmets when they first started using those, too. Those ended up saving lives and helping guys out.

"This could be a similar case. That ball's coming off the bat really fast, and it's coming right at our heads sometimes. If there's something we can wear to protect us a little bit, I'm all for that."


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     One way to prevent line drives back at the heads of baseball pitchers is to throw inside and low.

     The better way is for baseball pitchers to rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

     When baseball pitchers rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot, their pitches do not enter the hitting zone until their pitching foot has landed.

     With both feet on the ground before baseball batters are able to hit line drives back at the heads, baseball pitchers are able to turn their heads away in the same way that baseball batters are able turn their heads away.

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0135.  Greene relieved to be at camp after aneurysm scare
MLB.com
February 21, 2016

LAKELAND, FL: The bullpen mounds on the back fields at Tigertown had Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann and Michael Fulmer lined up on Saturday, strong arms all, much-anticipated pitchers for various reasons. Mixed in there, too, was Shane Greene, who fits both categories.

You remember Shane Greene, right? Started last season in the Tigers rotation. Won his first three starts with 23 innings and one earned run allowed. Lost eight of nine decisions over his next 13 starts with a 9.20 ERA. Had a pseudoaneurysm in his shoulder that, in hindsight, might explain that last part.

"I don't want this guy to be a forgotten man," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's a guy we thought very highly of a Spring Training ago, after we traded [Robbie Ray] for him. Players have down years."

Even healthy pitchers have down years. So do pitchers who have trouble feeling the baseball on their fingertips because of a lack of blood flow from shoulder to throwing hand.

"My fingers were going freezing cold and turning black and blue," Greene clarified Sunday morning. "It wasn't necessarily that I couldn't feel the ball. It was every time the ball would come off my fingers, it was stinging really bad. It would be like having really cold toes and then stomping your toes. It's the only way I can describe it. It was just a freak thing."

Greene says he doesn't know when it started. When his fingers felt cold early in the season, he figured he had to adjust to Midwestern weather. He didn't worry until he was driving to the ballpark one day, put his hand against his face and felt his frigid fingers on his cheek.

"Nobody really had any answers," Greene said. "I didn't have any pain except for cold fingers, so being a competitor, I just [decided] I'm going to go and compete until they tell me I can't anymore. And it just became an issue where all I could think about are my fingers. So that's when I said enough is enough."

Doctors found the aneurysm in August and operated. Had Greene kept it quiet much longer, he might have had bigger problems than gripping a fastball. Instead, his offseason challenge was to rebuild range of motion. Because doctors operated through the armpit, Greene didn't have muscle or tendon tears.

From there, the progress has been steady but slow.

"The surgery wasn't on my fingers, it was on my shoulder," he explained, "so my body is taking the blood clots out in time. And there's no way to tell how long it's going to take for it to be 100 percent. So right off the bat, [the fingers] were still pretty cold, but now that I've gotten going and it's a little while after surgery, they're feeling pretty good."

While the aneurysm is gone, meaning no new blood clots, Greene has no idea when remaining clots will dissipate. Until that happens, he could still have some occasional bouts, but not as severe as last year.

As he threw pitches Saturday, he felt much improved, cautiously upbeat. He said he's ahead of schedule in his throwing program. That doesn't mean he'll be pitching like last April, but he's pitching.

For now, he's in the mix for the fifth starter spot along with Fulmer, Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Buck Farmer. Greene is also an option for one of two bullpen openings -- not out of health concerns, Ausmus said, but pitching style.

"I don't want to pigeonhole him as a reliever right now," Ausmus said. "But if he were, I think his velocity would tick up, the slider would be a little harder. I think he could make the move rather easily and maybe see a tick up in stuff."

Greene's focus is pretty simple.

"I want to pitch in the big leagues," he said. "Whenever they tell me to go out there and get guys out, I'm going to go out there and do whatever I can to get as many guys out as possible."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Shane Greene started last season in the Tigers rotation."
02. "Mr. Greene won his first three starts with 23 innings and one earned run allowed."
03. "Then, Mr. Greene lost eight of nine decisions over his next 13 starts with a 9.20 ERA." 04. "Mr. Greene's fingers were going freezing cold and turning black and blue."
05. "Every time the ball would come off Mr. Greene's fingers, Mr. Greene's fingers stinged really badly."
06. In August, the Tigers Medical Staff found the aneurysm."
07. "Had Mr. Greene kept it quiet much longer, Mr. Greene might have had bigger problems."
08. "Doctors operated through the armpit."
09. Mr. Greene's offseason challenge was to rebuild range of motion."

     Tiger baseball pitcher, Shane Greene, said:

01. "The surgery wasn't on my fingers."
02. "Surgery was on my shoulder."
03. "My body is taking the blood clots out in time."
04. "There's no way to tell how long it's going to take for it to be 100 percent."
05. "My fingers are still pretty cold."
06. "Now, that I've gotten going and it's a little while after surgery, they're feeling pretty good."

     I am concerned.

     The doctors removed the aneurysm, but they did not remove the cause.

     When pitching, the first Rib compresses the Subclavian Vein and slows the blood flow.

     With slow blood flow, some baseball pitchers develop blood clots.

     When these blood clots enter the lungs or the arteries in the brain, they could cause death.

     I had one of these baseball pitchers in my training center.

     I immediately sent this young man to a doctor that knew he had to immediately remove their first Rib.

     After the surgery, my young man spend days in critical care and survived.

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0136.  A Couple Questions

I am a freelance baseball writer.

I also have my own blog.

I graduated from Siena Heights University and a former history professor of mine pointed me your way.

I was wondering if you had some time to talk whether it's over the phone or via email.

Specifically, I'm interested in your unorthodox philosophy, and your thoughts on why you might have been blackballed?

If it's not in your interest I totally understand, thank you, though, for taking the time to read this and your consideration.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     You ask: Why has professional baseball blackballed me?

     My answer: Audacity.

     I had the audacity to earn a doctoral degree in Exercise Physiology with specialties in Kinesiology and Motor Skill Acquisition.

     In 1967, I found that I could not fully extend or flex my pitching elbow.

     I had the audacity to take 400 frames per second high-speed 16mm film of me throwing my fastball and slider.

     I had the audacity to determine that releasing my slider over the top of my Index finger caused me to lose 12 degrees of pitching elbow extension range of motion.

     I also had the audacity to determine that by taking my pitching arm laterally behind my body, the Brachialis muscle lengthened its coronoid process such that I lost 12 degrees of my pitching elbow flexion range of motion.

     I had the audacity to set 17 major league records including pitching 208 innings in 106 games, 13 consecutive games and closing 84 games.

     These audacities insure that professional baseball will never include me with the top closers, they throw away outliers.

     In 2000, I had the audacity to open my drmikemarshall.com website to all with no charges.

     Over the fifteen years since, I had the audacity to make videos on causes of pitching injuries, how to prevent all pitching injuries and a two and one-half hours Baseball Pitchers Instructional Video in which I explained and showed how baseball pitchers of all ages will also be able to pitch every day without injury or fatigue.

     I will gladly talk on the telephone or exchange emails.

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0137.  How pitching permanently alters the pitching elbow, pitching shoulder, the lower back, the pitching knee and more.

I am going to re-examine this perhaps this weekend or early next week.

I want to pitch this possibly to a quality periodical I know since that is where I have the best connection.

But, I can send over to a sports magazine, so I need to think over an angle (or a few) that might interest them.


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     With the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers are:

01. Not able to fully extend and bend their pitching elbow.
02. Not able to raise their pitching upper arm over their head.
03. Will need their L5-S1 intervertebral disk removed.
04. Will need a pitching knee replacement.
05. Will need a pitching hip replacement.

     With my baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers will never suffer any pitching injuries, and they will increase their release velocity and consistency, master the wide variety of high-quality pitches require to successfully pitch to the four types of baseball batters and are able to pitch every day.

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0138.  Add Me to your LinkedIn Network

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     Hi Readers,

     This is Dr. Marshall.

     I have no idea what a LinkedIn Network is or why I would want to spend time on it.

     Instead of a LinkedIn Network, I want a MarshalledIn Network.

     That means that I will only recognize those that understand my baseball pitching motion and will teach it.

     Send me an email that says that you believe in the Marshall Baseball Pitching Motion and I will keep a list of Marshallized baseball pitching coaches.

     If anybody wants to ask me questions about teaching baseball pitchers, then please ask me and I will give you the best information I can give you.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, March 06, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0139.  Predicting Tommy John surgeries
MLB Trade Rumors
February 23, 2016

From Derick Velazquez in January to Lance Lynn in November, there were 112 ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries requiring reconstructive surgery — commonly called Tommy John Surgery (TJS) — in the 2015 season. Once a career-killer, UCL injuries have become a much more survivable injury over the last 30 years. And while more and more players are successfully returning from TJS, the procedure itself is a catastrophic event and requires a minimum of a year to recover.

That makes predicting UCL injuries a valuable and worthy endeavor. From the GM to the fantasy owner, being able to steer away from players with early warnings signs of UCL injuries can save a team’s season. The red flags for UCL injuries are not big, though, and many UCL injuries appear from nowhere. But using a large data set, culled from a variety of valuable resources, we can find the tiny red flags, the little baby red flags.

For the past seven months, I have been working with Tim Dierkes and his staff to develop a model to predict Tommy John surgery. The creation of this model required, quite literally, hundreds of thousands of lines of data and hundreds of man hours to combine and connect and test data from a variety of disparate sources. The project also took, as a sacrifice, one of my computer’s CPUs, which burned out shortly after completing some herculean computations. Fare thee well, i7.

The Results

The following is an attempt to quantify the risks that foreshadow potential UCL injuries. It is a combination of FranGraphs player data, Jeff Zimmerman's DL data, PITCHf/x data, a bunch of hard work, and the keystone data: Jon Roegele's TJS data, as stored on Zimmerman’s Heat Maps. We also checked our numbers against Baseballic.com, which houses arguably the most comprehensive injury data online.

And while most efforts at quantifying TJS risk have focused on recent appearances or recent pitches, our research takes a step further back and examines injury risks on an annual basis. It seeks to consider the problem from the GM’s view, and not the game manager’s.

The following names are sorted by greatest risk to least. For more details about the columns and the model that has created this data, continue reading after the embedded data.

Click Here for Interactive Tableau and Full Results

The results include three terms that help define where the players fit:

1. Prediction: My method of regressing the variables against pending TJS events resulted in a scale of 0 to 7, where 7 is the season before a player undergoes TJS. So our top player above, Brandon Morrow, ranks a 2.04 out of 7.00, meaning he is nowhere near a player about to absolutely have a shredded UCL. But it is certainly above average.

2. Risk: This is the player’s prediction, divided by the highest possible result, 7. Then, I then multiply the result by the degree of confidence I have in the model, which is the R^2 of .22. R^2 is the statistical tool for checking how much the model explains the variation in the data. It is unconventional to multiply the regression result against the R^2, but I wanted to firmly assert that this model can only explain — at most — 22% of the variation we find in the TJS population. I have additionally listed the results as whole numbers in an effort to limit the perception of precision that a decimal place conveys.

3. Risk+: This is merely a representation of how far above average or below average the player’s risk is. Here, 0% indicates a league-average risk; 100% is 2x the league average; 200% is 3x, and so on.

The Raw Numbers section includes the specific variables involved (explained in further detail in the “The Inputs” section). The Indexed Section includes the same data, but indexed (unless it is binary). That means the average is 100, twice the average is 200, and so on. This is the same as wRC+ or OPS+ or even Risk+, minus the % sign and with league average at 100 instead of 0%.

The Inputs

Over the preceding months, I have tested, prodded, and massaged many numbers. These were the factors that ultimately proved to have the strongest, most consistent relationships with impending TJS:

1. LHP = 1: MLB pitching staffs have been 28% left-handed since 2010. TJS victims are 25% left-handed. Throwing the ball with your right hand — unlike Tommy John, the original — is the first tiny red flag.

2. St. Dev. of Release Point: Previous studies (such as here and here) have attempted to connect release point variations with injuries. In the various models I created, release point had a consistent, while small, predictive power. I did not control for whether or not the pitcher appeared to have a deliberate difference in release points (as in, guys who pitch from multiple arm slots), but the infrequency of that trait does not seem to impact the variable.

3. Days Lost to Arm/Shoulder Injury in 2015: After many different permutations of what constitutes “an injury” or an “arm,” I landed on this unusual definition of an arm/shoulder: It’s everything from the wrist back, including the elbow, shoulder, and — why not — the collarbone. So it’s basically the principle upper-body actors of the throwing motion. No fingers, no legs. So if a player injured this arm/shoulder/collarbone area, the sum of their missed days has a decently-sized red flag planted on it. This is among the most important predictive factors for TJS — which makes intuitive sense. Previous injuries could be a forewarning of a bigger injury, or it could be a contributing factor in creating an UCL injury as pitchers compensate for a tweak or a partially-recovered injury.

4. Previous TJS?: This is a count of how many times the pitcher has gone under the knife. While only a small percentage of pitchers have Tommy John Surgery in their career, it strongly predicts a second surgery. Since 2010, there have been 10,000+ pitchers in the majors and minors combined. In that time, about 560 pitchers in the minors and majors have had TJS, and 57 were repeats. So the ratio of MLB and MiLB players to TJS victims is about 5%, but the repeat rate is over 10%. In other words, TJS begets more TJS.

5. Hard Pitches: This variable is the sum of four-seam fastballs (FA), two-seam fastballs (FT), and sinking fastballs (SI) as categorized by the default (MLBAM) PITCHf/x algorithm. Various attempts to include different pitch types and pitch counts all proved inferior to just a raw count of the hardest three pitches that the PITCHf/x database records.

6. ERA-: This is a park-, league-, and era-adjusted ERA, as reported by FanGraphs. This is the most puzzling part of the model, and the part I am least comfortable about, but a good ERA- (below 100) correlated weakly but negatively with good health. Possible bad data aside, the only theory I can muster to explain this is the idea that pitchers in the middle of good years are more likely to pitch on short rest or make emergency relief appearances in extra-inning games or key late-season games. The elite closer is more likely to pitch the three-consecutive-days marathon than the struggling middle reliever.

For some reason, there appears to be a connection between good ERAs and increased chances of TJS.

1. Age: Here is another iffy variable. Why do older guys without a previous TJS have fewer Tommy John Surgeries? Well, for one, there are fewer older pitchers than younger pitchers, but even after we control for that, we see fewer 38-year-olds going under the knife. The reason is probably that fewer late-career guys see a major UCL tear as worth trying to overcome, and instead call it a career. Few can forget the end of Ramon Ortiz's 2013 season, when the then-Blue Jays starter suffered what appeared to be an UCL injury and left the field in tears. Many assumed the 40-year-old righty would end his career then, but Ortiz was fortunate enough to avoid a UCL tear and managed to pitch in Mexico as recently as 2015. Had the 2014 injury been an UCL tear, Ortiz may have just ended his career then. There is also some survivor bias in here. Guys with truly durable UCLs are more likely to make it to their age-35 seasons (and beyond).

Here is a breakdown of the variable and coefficients involved:

-------------------------------------------------------------
| # |COEFFICIENTS|STANDARD ERROR|P-VALUE|Intercept          |
-------------------------------------------------------------
|01.|   1.6319   |     0.27     | 0.00  |Average of LHP?    |
|02.|  -0.1847   |     0.07     | 0.01  |Avg Arm Slot STDDEV|
|03.|   1.6667   |     0.54     | 0.00  |Arm/Shoulder?      |
|04.|   0.0110   |     0.00     | 0.00  |Previous TJS?      |
|05.|   0.2981   |     0.07     | 0.00  |Hard Pitches       |
|06.|   0.0001   |     0.00     | 0.15  |ERA-               |
|07.|  -0.0020   |     0.00     | 0.04  |Age                |
|08.|  -0.0524   |     0.01     | 0.00  |                   |
-------------------------------------------------------------
It is important to remember that the coefficients here do not visibly represent the strength of each variable because they each use a different scales. For instance, the largest Previous TJS is 2, but the largest Hard Pitches number is 2,488. (That said, Previous TJS is a much more predictive variable.)

P-values, in short, are the probabilities that the given variable is actually meaningless. Traditionalist might bristle at some of the P-values involved there. I personally find the customary cut-off P-values of .10, .05, or .01 artificial and unnecessarily limiting. Others are welcome to disagree.

Why is Player X So High/Low?

So your favorite pitcher is Brandon Morrow, and you’re distressed to see him top the charts here. Let’s look at why:

1. In 2015, Morrow missed 155 days after having debris removed from his shoulder. That’s 22x the league average among pitchers that completed at least 30 innings. No other pitcher on this list missed more days. (The average time missed was a little under 7 days.)

2. And despite missing most of the year, he still managed to throw a large amount of fastballs because, as Brooks Baseball puts it, he “relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph) and Slider (88mph)…” Morrow threw his fastball almost 60% of the time in 2015.

3. Lastly, he is just barely on the wrong side of the average age of this group. While the age variable is still an odd one, it is important to keep in mind that TJS culls the herd in the early years. If Morrow were 36 and coming off an injured season of this magnitude, he would still probably be the most likely TJS candidate, but he’d get a few bonus points for proving his UCL could have lasted this long in the first place.

I am pleased to see the likes of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Bartolo Colon at the bottom of the list. They are older pitchers with incredibly steady release points and no recent injury history (Dickey, of course, doesn’t have a UCL in the first place, though obviously the statistical algorithm in question doesn’t take such factors into consideration. We left his name in the results regardless of that fact, for those wondering why, as a means of illustrating the type of pitcher likely to rank low on the list). Of course, these guys, at their age, are perhaps even more likely to be ineffective and retire mid-season than they are to suffer a catastrophic injury, but that is neither here nor there.

Free agent Tim Lincecum also makes the list, and in a very positive way with a risk that is 51% below the league average. While any GM or fantasy owner looking into a Lincecum 2016 season will no doubt be aware of his injury history, it is a great sign for the two-time Cy Young winner hoping to move forward in his likely post-Giants career. The strongest contributing factors to Lincecum’s risk, however, are his inconsistent release point and the fact he makes a living off mixing up four generally slower pitches. While he has not shown great effectiveness in the past four seasons, avoiding TJS could buy him enough time to find a rhythm with his greatly decreased velocity.

Young Marlins ace Jose Fernandez only missed 35 days due to a biceps issue — if we don’t count the 97 days he missed recovering from TJS in 2015 — but that previous elbow operation combined with his young age suggests he is at greater risk of a second TJS heading into 2016. Again, we need a caveat here to remind us that age, while a predictor of TJS, may not be a good predictor of UCL tears.

Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon, and Eric Stults all have negative risk rates. Does that mean they are growing additional ulnar collateral ligaments? Yes. Almost certainly.

Rejected Variables

There are a few variables not included that might seem intuitive or necessary to include, but ultimately did not make the cut:

1. Velocities: Early versions of this model included pitch velocities, but it became apparent after later revisions that pitch velocities — at least given the present variables — was serving as a poor proxy for the number of hard pitches thrown. It follows that guys with fast fastballs throw those fastballs frequently. Take, for instance, freshly Rockie’d reliever Jake McGee, who has a scintillating fastball and rumors of maybe another pitch. Throwing hard may not actually lead to elbow injuries, but throwing a LOT of hard pitches might.

2. Other Pitch Frequencies: Throwing breaking stuff did not seem to have a meaningful relationship with TJS events — at least above and beyond the relationship with hard pitch totals. That does not mean sliders might not result in shoulder injuries or knuckleballers don’t have more fingernail issues, but in the given sample, with the given scope of our investigation, breaking and off-speed pitches did not create meaningful relationships.

3. Altitude of Home Park: Despite the considerable effort it took to match up each player’s home park with their park’s altitude, this attribute appears to have no effect on TJS. One might suspect that environmental issues impact the prevalence of certain injuries, but we can cross off altitude for now.

4. Non-Arm Injuries: I figured leg injuries — given how important legs are in delivering a pitch — or general injuries might have a connection to TJS if in no other way than causing inconsistency in the pitcher’s delivery or release. But once we add in the arm/shoulder injury days into the calculation — along with previous TJ operations — the value of other injuries goes away.

5. Injuries in Previous Seasons: Despite connecting players up with five years of injury history, the unstable relationships (i.e. high P-values) also came with negative coefficient — suggesting an injury in 2013 makes you stronger against a possible UCL injury in 2015. That makes no sense.

Room for Improvement

Without comprehensive dumps from the PITCHf/x data at Brooks Baseball or the Baseballic.com injury database, and without good information on late-career UCL injuries that result in retirement instead of TJS, and without medical records from these players themselves, we will always be playing catch-up with our prediction models. If I am a team considering one of the players listed above, I would defer to medical and pitching experts opinions following a thorough medical examination.


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     The only information of any value in this article is: R. A.Dickey, of course, doesn’t have a UCL in the first place.

     If Mr. Dickey is able to pitch without an Ulnar Collateral Ligament, then what is the problem?

     All baseball pitchers have to do is use Mr. Dickey's baseball pitching motion.

     To prevent injuries to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament baseball pitchers only have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from their medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase on my baseball pitching motion.

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0140.  Tommy John on Hall of Fame: 'I'm being held back'
Sporting News
February 23, 2016

Who he is: It’s fairly arbitrary. Tommy John retired in 1989 with 288 wins over 26 seasons. If he had 12 more wins, he’d long since have been in the Hall of Fame. Of the 24 pitchers with 300 wins, only Roger Clemens isn’t enshrined. While just six 300-game winners have been first-ballot Hall of Fame selections according to Baseball-Reference.com, having 300 wins generally gets a pitcher inducted within five years on the writers’ ballot.

John completed his BBWAA eligibility in 2009, peaking at 31.7 percent of the vote, well short of the 75 percent needed for enshrinement. He appeared on the Expansion Era Committee ballots for the 2011 and 2014 elections and is a likely candidate when the committee meets again in December. John has a good shot at induction at some point because of his win total, his longevity, and being the first pitcher to have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, better known as Tommy John surgery.

But he’s not holding his breath about being voted into Cooperstown.

“I don’t even know when my chances begin,” John told Sporting News. “I have no idea when the voting is. It’s so convoluted now.”

He has an idea on what’s holding back his candidacy.

“I won 164 games after surgery,” John said. “That was one less than Sandy Koufax won in his entire career. Entire career. I’d have sportswriters tell me, ‘Yeah, but his wins were better than yours.’ And I said, ‘Better?’ I said, ‘A win’s a win.’ When Sandy (pitched), did he strike out more guys? Yeah. Did he have less hits? Yeah. But he won the ball game. That’s what he set out to do. I set out to win a ball game, and that’s what I was supposed to do.”

Sabermetricians might debate this assertion. Koufax had 30.7 wins above average over 12 seasons, while John had 9.1 wins above average after his surgery and 21.9 wins above average lifetime. But John was a reliable pitcher for many contending teams, the Dodgers and Yankees chief among them. In 26 seasons, John never finished in the top 10 in strikeouts, but he carved out a long career, he explained, by being left-handed, staying in good shape and never trying to do what he couldn’t.

“My whole thing is, if you’d looked at the pitchers of my era on the number of ground ball outs to total outs, I had the best ratio in the history of baseball,” John said. “I was very, very good at what I did, and I wasn’t a strikeout pitcher. I was when I was in high school and all that. But I wasn’t when I became a pro. So I’m being held back because I didn’t conform to some sportswriter’s idea of what is good and what is not good.”

Cooperstown chances: 50 percent

Why: The good news for John and candidates like Jim Kaat, Dale Murphy and Steve Garvey is that once a player is on the Hall of Fame’s radar, it’s less a matter of if than when they’ll get in. If a player tops out at even 20 percent of the BBWAA vote, there's perhaps a 50 percent chance they’ll later be enshrined. Hall of Fame committees tend to consider the same candidate again and again and induct them as they reach consensus and the public demands it. Whether a candidate like John gets in while he’s alive is a different story. He’s 72 as of this writing.

Similar to Kaat, another supremely durable pitcher who may or may not be voted into Cooperstown in his lifetime, John seems fairly detached and disillusioned about the Hall of Fame voting process. “I have no idea, and I don’t even follow it, truthfully,” John said. “I have no control over it, so I basically don’t really worry about things I have no control over.”

But he wonders about players like Don Mattingly, one of the best first basemen of the 1980s before injuries took their toll. “The sportswriters said, ‘You should have won 288 games. You pitched all those years,’” John said. “Then they say Mattingly... didn’t play enough years. When is enough enough and too much is too much?”

There are other things out of John’s control. He said he doesn’t get invited to Yankees Old-Timers' Days anymore because the woman responsible for sending out invitations “got pissed at Tommy John and is not going to invite me back.” John and his rep would like readers to know that he has no relationship to Tommy John Underwear. John said he considered a lawsuit but abandoned it after attorneys he approached for representation wanted $250,000. People ask him about the underwear, he says, “all the time.”

“My girlfriend called the company and said she was representing me and that they should think about using me as a spokesperson,” John said. “Their reply was they don’t have it in their budget.”

So John finds other pursuits. He lost his son Taylor, who had bipolar disorder, to suicide six years ago; now John does mental health advocacy and fundraising for suicide prevention through his Let’s Do It Foundation. John has three other children, one of whom, Travis, fell out of a third-story window as a child in 1981 yet survived. “The pediatric surgeon who worked on him said, ‘We know more about the planet and we know more about the oceans than we know about the brain, and we’ll never know that much,’” John said.

When he’s not with his children, now grown, or two grandchildren, John lives in Palm Springs, Calif., with his girlfriend and enjoys golfing. While his handicap is 14, following hip and knee replacement and spinal column surgeries in the last year, he said he shot a 68 while with the Dodgers. That came when he was golfing with longtime Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, who regularly golfed with his players and team employees. “Walter liked to win, and if you ever played against him, you had to keep score,” John said. “He could make four plus four add up to seven.”

Some players campaign shamelessly for Hall of Fame induction. Bert Blyleven, who has one less career win but a better case by sabermetrics than John, regularly made media appearances before the BBWAA inducted him in his 14th year on the ballot. That’s not John’s style.

“If getting into the Hall of Fame would make me a scratch golfer and win my club championship, I would be out there campaiging the s— out of that,” John said.

John does care, though, about the candidacy of two people who helped him much during his career: Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association; and Dr. Frank Jobe, the doctor who performed his landmark surgery in 1974. John got five minutes to talk when the Hall of Fame honored Jobe without inducting him in 2013.

“I said there were three men, in my opinion, who changed the face of baseball, and that would be Jackie Robinson for changing the color barrier, Marvin Miller for changing free agency, and Frank Jobe for (introducing) UCL reconstruction surgery,” John said. “The game will forever be changed because of those three men, and I don’t think Marvin will ever get in the Hall of Fame. Because the owners, if they have a vote, they will vote him out. These guys getting paid $200 million, it’s because of what Marvin did back in the ‘70s.”


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     If Tommy John wants in the Hall of Fame, then I hope that he makes it.

     However, I do not agree that Marvin Miller worked for all baseball players in the Major League Baseball Players Association. The top twenty baseball players receive eighty percent of the salary money. Salaries should fall within the Bell Curve.

     Dr. Frank Jobe tied the distal end of the Humerus bone to the proximal end of the Ulna bone. Unfortunately, instead of teaching baseball pitchers how to eliminate all stress on the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, orthopedic surgeons made a fortune on an unnecessary surgery.

     To prevent injury to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers need to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     Remember, R.A, Dickey threw in the mid-90's fastballs without an Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     Muscles, not ligaments hold the distal end of the Humerus bone tightly against the proximal end of the Ulna bone.

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0142.  Sanchez has sore arm again
Detroit Free Press
February 25, 2016

LAKELAND, FL: Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez is experiencing arm soreness again.

This time, it’s in his lower right triceps. Both Sanchez and manager Brad Ausmus said after today’s workouts in Tiger Town that they're not concerned, but any time arm soreness and Sanchez are mentioned in the same sentence, it’s an issue.

Sanchez underwent an MRI exam, which revealed the inflammation.

“I’m fine, I’m good,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s early. We don’t have to rush anything, especially if I have the soreness. But in order for me to throw, I don’t have to take the risk of it getting worse if I want it to be ready in time.

“There’s no rush right now. We have enough time to get ready for the season. We have a month and a half.”

Sanchez experienced the soreness Monday and hasn’t thrown since, Ausmus said. He won’t pick up a baseball until this coming Monday, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he didn’t make a start the first time through the Tigers’ spring rotation.

Arm soreness isn’t new to Sanchez, who has missed time with arm-related injuries in each of the past three seasons. He is being counted on this season to give the team a formidable top three in the pitching rotation.

“It doesn’t seem to be anything concerning, but I guess you’re always cringing when it involved one of your starting pitchers,” Ausmus said. “It’s not really in an area where we see a ton of problems with. The MRI looked good; it just showed a little inflammation there.”

In 2015, Sanchez turned in a career-worst season -- while battling a sore shoulder throughout -- posting a 4.99 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 25 starts. He allowed 29 home runs -- tied for most in the American League despite missing the final month and a half of the season with a rotator cuff strain.

“Nothing like a big deal, no big deal, just slow down and the thing is we are at the right time to do that,” he said.

Sanchez first experienced the soreness when he began throwing hard in the bullpen and hypothesized that it could be due to not throwing at maximum intensity during the off-season.

About Sanchez’s health, Ausmus said: “It’s very important. Extremely important. I think Sanchy is one of the most important parts of the team, really. We hope he returns to the guy he was a couple of years ago.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Anibal Sanchez is experiencing arm soreness again."
02. "This time, it’s in Mr. Sanchez's lower right triceps."
03. "Both Sanchez and manager Brad Ausmus said after today’s workouts in Tiger Town that they're not concerned."

     Mr. Sanchez is banging the olecranon process into the olecranon process.

     To prevent this injury, Mr. Sanchez needs to pronate the releases of his breaking pitches.

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0142.  Rangers further evaluating reliever's sore back
Dallas Morning News
February 25, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: While right-hander Luke Jackson has indicated to the Rangers the lower back stiffness he's experienced in the first week of camp is a regular aspect of the start of baseball season for him, the club is taking no chances.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine said Jackson is being further evaluated to determine if there is a more significant issue. Jackson told club officials that every spring he's had some stiffness as he gets used to being back on spikes.

"I think we are inclined to confirm that it's not something more major than he believes it is," Levine said. "We just want to evaluate."

The Rangers have already lost one relief depth option to an injury this spring. Tanner Scheppers, who underwent successful knee surgery Wednesday, won't be able to put weight on his left foot for six weeks and will miss at least the first half of the season.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Luke Jackson has lower back stiffness."
02. "Mr. Jackson experiences lower back stiffness in the first week of camp is a regular aspect of the start of baseball season."
03. "Mr. Jackson has lower back stiffness every spring as he gets used to being back on spikes."

     To prevent lower back stiffness, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0143.  Cain encounters early setback, cyst removed
San Francisco Chronicle
February 25, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: No Giants pitcher needed a clean, healthy spring more than Matt Cain, after all of his injuries, for his own piece of mind.

So much for that.

Now, the question is whether Cain will be healthy and conditioned enough to start the regular season on time.

Cain will miss at least 10 days of throwing after undergoing a procedure in San Francisco on Thursday to remove a cyst from the upper part of his right arm. Team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki performed it in San Francisco, with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner accompanying Cain north.

A cyst is minor on the spectrum of injuries that can befall a pitcher. Still, this was the second cyst removed since November, coming off an August 2014 operation to remove bone chips from his elbow and a flexor-tendon injury that cost him the first three months of 2015.

“He’s probably saying ‘uncle’ right now,” catcher Buster Posey said.

“Of course you feel for him, especially since his first bullpens looked so good. From my understanding this is not a structural issue. I’m hoping he can bounce back pretty quickly and pick up where he left off.”

Manager Bruce Bochy echoed the sentiment, saying, “The way he was throwing the ball, you hate to have a little hiccup like this. We have time. This doesn’t seem to be a major hiccup. Without knowing, I still think we have time to get him ready.”

For Cain to take his first turn in the rotation, most likely the April 7 home opener, he will need to reach about 80 pitches in his final Cactus League start.

The cyst did not bother Cain while he threw in camp, Bochy saying that the the pain arrived suddenly. The 31-year-old had the cyst drained, but the fluid returned, leading him and the staff to green-light a medical procedure they preferred to do early in spring.

Bochy acknowledged that he had more hope than answers Thursday and cannot make an accurate prediction until he talks to Cain and Groeschner on Friday.

Cain arrived at spring training optimistic that the injuries and performance issues that have undone his career since 2012 were over and that he could provide the Giants a fourth starter with the abilities and savvy of the ace he once was.

Two years remain on the six-year, $127.5 million contract he signed just before the 2012 season.

The Giants have some depth to withstand a rotation setback.

Chris Heston, whose 31 starts as a rookie last season included a no-hitter against the Mets, was ticketed for long relief and was going to be stretched as a starter in the exhibition games anyway.

Clayton Blackburn, the starting prospect deemed closest to major-league ready, should get a longer look pitching some of the innings, at least early in the games, that Cain cannot throw as he attempts to catch up.

If Heston has to take a turn or two in the rotation to start the season, a prospect or minor-league invitee might be tapped to fill Heston’s spot in the bullpen.

But Bochy, not counting out Cain, said, “It’s too early to talk about that.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Matt Cain had a cyst removed from the upper part of his pitching arm."
02. "A cyst is minor on the spectrum of injuries that can befall pitchers."
03. "This was the second cyst Mr. Cain had removed since November."
04. "In August 2014, Mr. Cain had bone chips removes from his elbow."
05. "In 2015, Mr. Cain suffered flexor-tendon injury that cost Mr. Cain three months."
06. "Mr. Cain had the cyst drained, but the fluid returned."

     Until Mr. Cain learns to pronate the releases of his breaking pitches, Mr. Cain will continue to suffer.

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0144.  Pitchers and the seven-month season
Hardball Times
February 25, 2016

At the end of my last article at THT, I indulged in some speculation about whether older pitchers’ skills eroded faster during the playing season than in the offseason. The data I used gave me no grounds for a conclusion either way. Were the erosion to happen faster in-season, though, it raised the unfortunate possibility that pitchers who had longer seasons—meaning those who pitched deep into the postseason—would be worn down by the grind and pitch worse the next season, and possibly beyond.

I teased that I might have more to say on the matter in months to come. Teasing isn’t really nice, so I got to work on the matter right away.

I wound up both narrowing and expanding the question I posed. I looked at just the following year after a heavy postseason workload, and I did not limit myself to older pitchers. This was probably a wise shift, since two of the biggest controversies surrounding pitcher workloads and the postseason in recent years have involved younger hurlers.

In 2012, Stephen Strasburg had just recovered from major arm surgery and a virtually lost 2011, but was pitching well. The Washington Nationals front office, though, was cautious with its young blue-chipper, and declared partway through the season that Strasburg would not be allowed to pitch past 160 to 180 innings. When Washington vaulted into playoff position ahead of expectations, management refused to alter its stance to make use of Strasburg in October. He was shut down after his Sept. 7 start, at 159.1 frames, and the Nationals lost the National League Division Series, three games to two, without him.

The front office was thinking ahead to the next four seasons that Strasburg would be pitching for them, trying to insure that he’d be available and effective for what they anticipated would be several playoff runs and a chance at multiple rings. Instead, the following three seasons brought just one more postseason appearance, which also ended in the NLDS. Many Nationals fans, looking at very likely just one more season of Strasburg before he departs via free agency, have tormented themselves playing the “what if” game.

(For added perspective on the Strasburg affair, Jack Marshall’s article on baseball ethics in the 2013 THT Baseball Annual is recommended.)

Just last year, history began to repeat itself. Matt Harvey, a hot young pitcher who lost the previous season to Tommy John surgery, had a strong comeback year that helped push his New York Mets into serious contention. Then talk of limiting Harvey’s workload floated up, this time advanced by his agent, Scott Boras. A feeding frenzy ensued in New York media, with the result that Harvey kept pitching in September, and October, and November.

It may not have ended well, but Harvey’s pitching did help get the Mets into the World Series, and any price it exacts later the Mets will worry about later—though “later” will be upon them pretty soon now.

These aren’t ordinary pitcher-workload situations, bound up as they are with injury concerns. Still, they illustrate the trade-offs teams may fear, that riding a pitcher hard after Game 162 will leave him worse off for the season or seasons to come. Most teams, of course, will chase the glory and take the consequences.

It’s time to figure out what those consequences might be.

Ground Rules

I set a fairly high limit for what constitutes heavy postseason usage, requiring a pitcher to have at least 100 batters faced in the playoffs to qualify. I preferred batters faced to innings pitched for being a somewhat more precise measure of workload, though in retrospect I could have done better by using total pitches.

My time frame was 1996 to 2014. Before that, the 1994-95 strike shortened season lengths, keeping pitchers from a “full” workload; 2015 is unusable because we don’t know yet how pitchers did in the following season. Using these years and the batters-faced floor, I compiled 71 pitcher years that included heavy postseason workloads.

This was 52 individuals, some having multiple heavy-use postseasons. Andy Pettitte dominated with six, spread from 1996 to 2009. Roger Clemens had three, counting just the back half of his career. Also, every pitcher who qualified was a starter. Even with three-plus playoff rounds, modern usage patterns made it impossible for relievers to accrue enough batters faced. The closest approach was 70 by Francisco Rodriguez for the 2002 Anaheim Angels.

Once I had the seven-month pitchers, I needed the comps. I chose comparison pitchers from the same seasons, and required them to match the postseason workhorses in several categories. First, they had to pitch roughly the same number of innings in the regular season. I went with a five percent leeway to either side. Second, they had to be within one year of age of the subject. This was to keep differing levels of age-related decline (or improvement) from skewing the results.

Third, they had to be roughly equivalent in pitching quality. I used both ERA- and FIP- as measures, doing the study for each. The comp pitcher had to be within 10 points plus or minus of the subject pitcher to be counted. This was to prevent unequal levels of regression to the mean from warping things, likely to the subject’s detriment. (One assumes a pitcher getting heavy duty in October will have performed well that season, and thus would be due some negative regression.)

Fourth and last, the comp pitcher had to have missed the playoffs, or at the very least not pitched in them. It does no good to measure pitchers against a control group that has the same difference you’re trying to measure. This carved away a distressingly large portion of an already narrowing group, especially when good pitching teammates on a deep playoff team eliminated themselves. (Hello, late-1990s Atlanta Braves.) Oddly, Pettitte didn’t end up with this trouble.

Before screening for playoff appearances, I had 44 pitchers with 104 comps for ERA-, and 40 pitchers with 105 comps for FIP-. Once I combed out potential comps who also pitched in October, those numbers dropped to 31 and 59 for ERA-, 34 and 67 for FIP-. Workhorse Andy Pettitte managed to retain four years with 10 and six comps respectively, the most of anyone, but Roger Clemens ended up with zero comps. Unique as the Rocket was, I ought not have been surprised by that.

Once the comp groups were selected, I looked at performance. For both ERA- and FIP-, I counted how much the playoff pitchers improved or degraded the following season, doing likewise for their comps. I then measured those movements against each other, to see whether the seven-month pitchers had comparatively better or worse performances.

I lost a few more comps at this point, because one pitcher in the ERA- comp group and two in the FIP- comp group did not pitch in the following year. Two missed the year but returned, while the other never pitched in the majors again. I note that all the October pitchers pitched the following season. This is a suggestion, though little more, that postseason workhorses are selected for durability. (Or perhaps it’s just that the presumed workhorses who ended up breaking down didn’t reach my batters-faced threshold.)

Results

First, the performances of the ERA- group. (Remember that in a minus metric, smaller is better. Just like ERAs.)

HEAVY POSTSEASON PITCHERS vs. COMPS, BY ERA-

------------------------------------------------- | # |Pitchers | ERA-|Next Yr. ERA-|Difference| ------------------------------------------------- |01.|Seven-month |84.74| 89.16 | 4.42 | |02.|Six-month |87.84| 103.98 | 16.14 | -------------------------------------------------
The non-playoff pitchers had an ERA- fall-off 11.7 points greater than the seven-month pitchers. By this measure, the hard-worked pitchers held much more of their value the following season.

There is a complication, however. Some of the comps had highly ineffective (and generally short) follow-up seasons, five of them packing on at least 90 added points of ERA-. This may throw off the mean averages, so I re-examined the numbers using medians. By that method, the comp pitchers averaged 10 points of drop-off rather than 16.1, and declined 2.5 points more than their matching postseason pitchers instead of 11.7. The result is not as dramatic, but the seven-month pitchers still retain more of their effectiveness.

(I should observe that none of the postseason toilers had nearly as great a collapse the following season as some of the comps. In fact, the biggest decline in the ERA- group, Matt Cain 2012-13, is 40 points, smaller than the biggest ERA- improvement, 46 points by Al Leiter 1997-98.)

The FIP- scale was created to measure core ability and filter out the variances that can make ERA fluctuate. We would expect the numbers to behave more sedately here, and they do that. (Numbers here do not add up precisely due to rounding.)
HEAVY POSTSEASON PITCHERS vs. COMPS, BY FIP-
----------------------------------------------------
| # |Pitchers    |  FIP-  |Next Yr. FIP-|Difference|
----------------------------------------------------
|01.|Seven-month | 88.75  |    90.89    |   2.14   |
|02.|Six-month   | 91.23  |    94.38    |   3.15   |
----------------------------------------------------
This time, the non-playoff pitchers dropped off by 1.02 FIP- points more than the playoff hurlers. A far smaller drop than with ERA-, but the direction remains the same: seven-month pitchers hold up better the next season.

There was just one FIP- crash by comps, gaining 75 points the following season. The next nearest were in the 30s, balanced by an equal number of minus-30s. Still, I ran the medians for this group also. The comps’ median FIP- decline was two points instead of 3.15, and the median difference from their matching postseason pitchers was one point, effectively equal to 1.02. The result again holds.

(And once again, the October workhorses showed a bigger maximum improvement—34 points by Leiter’s ’97-’98 again—than the maximum decline—27 points, done both by Colby Lewis 2010-11 and Jarrod Washburn 2002-3.)

It’s interesting to observe that the ERA- figures for the playoff workhorses were significantly better than the FIP- numbers, and made bigger regressions in the following seasons. Pitchers are being judged by the more traditional measures of effectiveness, the ones more influenced by single-season factors, when being chosen for big playoff roles. No surprise, really, but it could be worth watching whether, as analytics penetrates deeper into a new generation of managers, they begin using different criteria.

By either ERA- or FIP-, pitchers shouldering a lot of postseason work do not suffer for it the next season. If anything, they have a somewhat stronger follow-up year than their comps did. I’ll make further observations on this after a quick digression.

Something in an Extra-Long?

Of all the pitchers in the 19-year span of this survey, the one who pitched the most in a single postseason came in the final year I covered. Madison Bumgarner in 2014 pitched 52.2 postseason innings, facing 195 batters, almost twice my cutoff value for a heavy playoff workload. If you’re wondering, it didn’t seem to hurt him. He produced an 88/88 in ERA-/FIP- in the 2014 regular season, and followed it up last year with an 81/79 mark.

Bumgarner had the most postseason work of any pitcher in the Wild Card era (I checked 1995 and 2015 to be sure), with six starts plus an extended relief appearance. Before the divisional round arrived, the most starts a pitcher could plausibly have in one postseason was five. Even without combing through all the playoffs in history, I am confident in saying Madison Bumgarner worked the heaviest postseason in the history of baseball.

This is an anecdotal point in favor of long postseasons being no threat to a pitcher, or even being beneficial. Of course, one data point is a lousy foundation on which to base such a conclusion. Expand it to the top 10 postseason workhorses I gathered (not all of whom had comps), and they average rises of 2.3 ERA- points in the following year (against 4.42 for the whole set) and 5.3 FIP- points (versus 2.14 for everyone). That’s entirely ambiguous, not really pointing anywhere. If you want to be mischievous and expand it to the top 15, it ends up a drop of 0.33 ERA- points and a rise of just 1.73 FIP- points.

The point of this was to look for any sign that the heaviest of heavy postseason workloads might produce an erosion of skills the next season. Not only is there no such sign, what little indication there is says instead that it provides the slightest of benefits, much the same as for the regular heavy cohort.

I do not take the extra-long over-performance at face value. I do not even assume that the better performance of the full group derives from the added work they got in the playoffs. It is possible instead that managers know, through the experience they have with the pitchers on their staffs, who can bear the extended haul better. Shuffling a No. 3 pitcher into the second postseason slot, the kind of thing we see a fair amount but don’t think about very much after the fact, could be the method of giving an extra start to somebody deemed able to handle it.

Whether the effect comes from managers’ discretion or from longer work actually strengthening the pitchers, it’s safe to say that a long postseason will not leave a pitcher gassed in the year that follows. Those Mets fans who worried about the effects of wringing every last inning from Matt Harvey (or Royals fans thinking of Edinson Volquez) can breathe easier. Not that he’s guaranteed not to have a down year: he’ll just be running the same risks all pitchers do.


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     The most important training takes place between the end of the season and the re-start of training.

     Rest causes atrophy. Atrophy causes decreased fitness.

     Baseball pitchers need to train every day during the off-season. Never allow fitness to degrade.

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0145.  Rangers slowly tuning-up Darvish this spring
NBCDFW.com
February 25, 2016

The Rangers are using caution with pitcher Yu Darvish as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Darvish missed the entire 2015 season and is expected to return to Texas’s rotation by May.

“I think, generally speaking, in this stage in a rehab you are throwing every other day,” Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said.

Instead, the Rangers have decided to allow Darvish to choose to add an extra day between throwing sessions. “Since we have some time to play with, I think we’re more inclined to make sure he feels 100-percent recovered when he steps on the mound,” Levine said.

Darvish threw 17 pitches off a half-mound Monday. He followed that up with a 20-pitch workout off a half-mound Wednesday, which he could have pushed back to Thursday.

Levine said Darvish will throw again “either Friday or Saturday, his preference,” and that it will be another half-mound session. Darvish told the media that he expects to throw 25 pitches in that workout.


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     Whatever fitness baseball pitchers gain by throwing bullpens disappear within two days of non-training.

     To keep the fitness gained my throwing bullpens, baseball pitchers have to throw every day.

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0146.  My twelve year old son

I'm calling to update you on the progress of my son.

As you may recall we conversed last season, and I sent you X-rays of his elbows.

He is now twelve, and in his last year of Little League.

To refresh, I was visiting family in upstate NY, Aug '14, and answered a Craigslist that Steve Sullivan posted for pitching instructions. At that time, I had never heard of you (sorry ;~).

He started talking about all this detail about physics and anatomy, which I really appreciated. I knew nothing about pitching - which was a good thing.

He also talked about how "experts" would not be interested in what he was teaching - and boy was he right about that. I love science, and believe the world would be a better place if we had more scientists, so I didn't care what anyone thought as long as it was the best thing for my son.

I kept in touch with Steve throughout the fall, and by January '15 we were getting ready for the season which started mid Feb. ++

Long story short, although he had an amazing season statistically (about the 4th best pitcher - despite being a year younger, and having just learned a new pitching motion), it was, to say the least, very interesting having to explain why my son was facing the batter instead of facing third base, and why his elbow was so high, etc.

The more someone knew about baseball, the more likely they were to discount what we were doing.

Fast forward to this year.

People are in awe of his throwing. He is amazingly fast (mid 60's), and accurate. And although we do not allow curve balls in our league, he will be playing tournaments which do allow moving balls, his curve is literally unhittable. It drops like a rock.

No longer are people questioning what we are doing. Although the "experts" are still not allowing their kids to throw like my son, what's happening is the second tier kids' parents are very interested.

This letter is to thank you for what you have done for my son.


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     Your son needs to continue to 'horizontally sail' the square lid from a four-gallon bucket, throw the tips of an appropriately-sized football to master the spin axis of my Torque Fastball, Maxline Fastball, Maxline Pronation Curve and Maxline True Screwball pitches I teach, do the five pound wrist weight exercises and throw the four pound heavy ball.

     By the time that your son is biologically sixteen years old and master of my baseball pitching motion and the wide variety of high-quality pitches that I teach, your son will own the high school baseball batters.

     In addition to what Steve taught you and your son, you might find my website (drmikemarshall.com) valuable.

     Have fun.

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0147.  Report from the College Baseball Pitcher that Trained in my Backyard.

I’ve made several appearances so far this season and am one of the top relievers.

Coach knows I am able to throw every day at max effort and is utilizing me well.

I've been doing pretty good so far even though I don’t agree with my coaches pitch calling sometimes and he absolutely hates walks.

I feel like I am throwing a lot harder engaging my lat muscle, but I haven’t been clocked yet.

I've been competing well against big SEC and big 12 schools racking up a lot of strikeouts.

My coach mostly only calls fastballs, sliders, and my reverse breaking ball which I tell him is a changeup.

I've been throwing a lot of maxline fastballs and throw my torque fastball as my slider which is devastating.

I've been throwing a lot of strikes.

My reverse breaking ball is still mediocre right now. It has good movement. I just need to get more consistent with throwing it for a strike. I want to be able to throw it confidently in 2-0, 3-1, and 3-2 counts for a strike. I usually miss too low and inside to a left handed batter and too high and outside to a left handed batter.

I guess I am inconsistent with my reverse breaking ball because I have too much traditional pitching motion flaws burnt in still.

Other than that I am pitching well and am a better pitcher than ever.

Please let me know your thoughts


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     Throw every pitch as hard as you are able with your maximum spin velocity into the center of the strike zone.

     You would do better selecting your pitches.

     Your Maxline and Torque Pronation Curves should paralyze batters with two strike counts.

     The reverse breaking ball requires that you wait until you have pointed your acromial line at home plate then put your hand in the middle of the strike zone put it away in your back pocket.

     I assume that you meant that you usually miss too low and inside to right-handed batters and high and outside to left-handed batters.

     When throwing your reverse breaking pitch and your Pronation Curves, forget from which side the batters are standing, focus on the middle of the strike zone. The movement will take care of the final location.

     When you pitch summer ball and are able to select you pitches, you will be a much, much better baseball pitcher.

     When you get to pitch to better baseball batters, you will become an even better baseball pitcher.

     Every day you do your wrist weight exercises, throw your heavy ball, sail your Lid and rip every pitch you have, you will continue to get better.

     Stick your pitching hand into the center of the strike zone and keep pounding the center of the strike zone.

     Never back down your intensity.

     Get the entire pitching arm side of your body behind the baseball and lean on it.

     Remember the 'horizontal rebound' and the 'pronation snap.'

     Have fun.

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0148.  Crawford ready to return to mound after missing better part of two years
SB Nation
February 15, 2016

In 2012, the Arizona Wildcats rode five pitchers through Omaha and to a National Championship. They were: Kurt Heyer, James Farris, Konner Wade, Mathew Troupe, and Tyler Crawford.

Crawford is not only the lone guy remaining in Tucson of that group of five, he's the last guy left from that team at all.

It would have been Crawford and Troupe, but after Andy Lopez retired, Troupe decided to transfer closer to home and play his final season at Cal State Northridge.

"I guess I am old," Crawford joked about the moment he realized he was the last guy standing from 2012. "I've seen a lot in my five years here."

"I came here as a freshman, and I thought winning a National Championship was easy. I was like, oh okay, you just get a really good group of guys and it takes care of itself. But I've definitely learned a lot."

He's also the only player on the 2016 team that's ever played in the NCAA Tournament.

"The team likes to joke around that I've seen it all," continued Crawford. "I've won a National Title. I was on that horrible team that won like 21 games and everything in between."

We haven't seen much of Crawford the past two seasons. Last year, he missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. The year before that, he missed a good chunk of the season due to a severe case of gastritis.

"It was really tough," Crawford said of his 2015 experience. "I was in a weird situation where I wasn't necessarily around the team in the spring. I took what we call a JV roster spot to open up some room for some of these new guys that came in. So the rules said I couldn't practice with the team. Couldn't be at games. So it was a really tough process. It was extremely tough to watch."

He wasn't alone trying to get through the notorious TJ surgery though. Arizona had the "TJ Club", where Crawford, Troupe, Kaleb Roper and Luke Soroko were all there for each other.

"We still have it," Crawford joked. "Troupe's just not around, but now it's just me, Roper, Soroko and Trent Johnson. We're always doing our rehab and our strengthening stuff. It's fun. We challenge each other and it's good because in this process there's good days and there's not so good days. So we know someone not having such a good day. It's a good support system."

Crawford suffered the injury in August of 2014 as he was continuing to get ready for fall practices that year while recovering from the gastritis, that he got from a violent case of food poisoning. It ended up being three months where he wasn't able to keep food down, lost a ton of muscle and weight (30 pounds in two and a half weeks) in the process, and couldn't find any velocity when he would try to pitch.

"I just killed the team whenever I pitched that year," he reminisced.

The team and the trainers had trouble diagnosing it, and it took until later in the year to figure out what it was.

"I had to get an endoscopy, and that's how we diagnosed it," Crawford said. "I think the team was in Washington at the time. I didn't go. I stayed back and was hospitalized, and that's when they found it. The timetable for that is just rest. There's no secret. It was just a matter of taking time, and I still see some lingering effects that I see from it."

That stomach illness may have also led to him tearing the UCL, as it screwed with his entire body and how he threw a baseball.

"I was preparing to come back to school, I was just long-tossing. I threw a ball and I was like 'ooh something is weird'. And I don't know the exact reason, but I was recovering from that stomach thing, and I was very weakened, so I'm wondering if all that contributed. There's no way to know that for sure though."

Looking forward to finishing his career strong.

2016 is Crawford's final chance to prove that he can still get it done at the college level, and possibly find himself getting drafted by a Major League team.

But he's staying away from number goals for himself.

"I feel like I'm just going to help this team win games," Crawford said of his goals. "I feel like the role I'm going to take is going to be something similar to what I did in 2012, being the jack of all trades. Coming in when they need me. Start when they need me. Whatever they need, and I'm just looking to keep the team in games."

"I see him being very valuable with how we use pitching," coach Johnson added. "We can slot him in the game at the right time to eat up two or three innings, or just two or three hitters some weeks, and some weeks we may need him to start. But his experience will allow him to do that, and his assortment of pitchers makes him an ideal piece for how I like to use pitching."

When Jay Johnson was announced as Arizona's new head coach, Crawford had already known him, as Johnson recruited Crawford to play at the University of San Diego out of high school. USD never offered him a scholarship because of the depth they had at the time. That made Crawford lean towards Arizona, as it was more affordable for him to stay in-state.

Crawford's best friend at Sunrise Mountain, Austin Byler, played first base at Nevada under Johnson as well, so Crawford knew what he was getting himself into with coach Johnson.

That first meeting between the two at Arizona wasn't all pleasantries and nice to see yous though.

"When (Johnson) first came in, he said 'I'm going to be honest with you Tyler, I didn't even recognize you from when I recruited you five years ago'," Crawford said of that meeting. "You've put on a ton of weight. And that was huge for me. He basically just told me that you need to do a good job with your body if you want to come back and be successful."

"I took it to heart. I think I've lost 20 pounds since August. I feel great. I'm in great shape. I haven't had any setbacks or anything."

"A lot of the pitching staff, we needed to do a better job with their strength and conditioning standpoint, and as a few of 'em rolled into my office, I said 'hey, we have to transform this team in the weight room, particularly on the pitching side of it," Johnson added. "In particular when you look at (Crawford), (Nathan) Bannister, (Robby) Medel and a couple others have really taken that seriously."

Having Dave Lawn around as the new pitching coach has also helped finish off the recovery process, as Crawford has had an individualized plan suited to his needs.

"Tyler has really taken that seriously and is back into pitching shape if you will," continued Johnson.

"He's been full-go pretty much since we started back in October," coach Lawn added. "There's been no restrictions. He's had no complaints, and we really need him because he has a ton of experience."

"We want to get him in more games because he hasn't been in games for a while," Lawn continued. "He's the kind of guy too that if one day you said 'Hey man, we're going to start you because the matchup's good', he could go out there and give us six innings."

The rest of the team is looking forward to having Crawford take the mound for them again this year as well.

"It's awesome," Zach Gibbons said about having Crawford back around this year. "It's really cool. He's done a fantastic job pitching too. The ball's jumping out of his hand more, and he just looks a lot healthier and just a different baseball player."

And Crawford's helping out a guy who's very similar to him in pitching style, sophomore Cameron Ming.

"I like to pick his brain just because he's an older guy that's been there and done it," Ming said of their relationship. "Why not take advantage of his wisdom? I think we're a lot alike, and he's got a real bulldog mentality about him, and he's going to be really good for us this year."

"He wants my slider and I want his curveball," continued Ming. "That's the thing. We can't figure it out. He's got a pretty sweet curveball, and I've got a pretty good slider I like to think. So we're working on that, but yeah, we both have different parts of our game that we're both strong at so we like to compare ourselves to each other."

After the last two years, it'll be good to see Crawford out there in the middle innings again, hopefully setting down batters like he did in 2012 and 2013. If he's able to fill that middle relief role and do it effectively this year, there's a lot of potential for not only the pitching staff, but the entire team.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Tyler Crawford was preparing to come back to school."
02. "Mr. Crawford was just long-tossing."
03. "Mr. Crawford threw a ball and it was like 'ooh something is weird'."
04. "Mr. Crawford didn't know the exact reason."
05. "But Mr. Crawford was recovering from that stomach thing."
06. "Mr. Crawford was very weakened."
07. "So, Mr. Crawford wondered if all that contributed."
08. "There's no way for Mr. Crawford to know that for sure though."

     To injure the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers have to 'reverse bounce' their pitching forearm without contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle.

     Therefore, to prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0149.  Dodger pitchers united on lonely road back from Tommy John surgery
ESPN.com
February 26, 2016

GLENDALE, AZ: Consider Brandon McCarthy merely the latest pitcher to realize that the recovery from Tommy John surgery is more of a brainteaser than a strength-and-conditioning program.

As the Los Angeles Dodgers' starter begins throwing a baseball again, the serious mind-bending has only just begun. There will be days in the near future when McCarthy will wake up convinced that the piercing pain in his elbow means that his elbow has blown out again. It will be only a sinister illusion.

Tommy John surgery is cruel indeed, and not just because of the 12-18 months it typically keeps a pitcher on the sideline.

"They’ll tell you you’ll have ups and downs," McCarthy said. "There are a lot of people to talk to, where there is not a lot of unchartered territory here. It does help some that you can at least reach out to people where they can tell you, 'No you’re not crazy. This is just how it is.'"

Yet, just because there are other members of the same dreaded club to lean on, it doesn’t mean he won't feel like he is all by himself, hiking a mountain trail that always has another bend to navigate, always seems to have one more peak to reach.

Dodgers pitchers Brett Anderson and Brandon Beachy know this trail well. Anderson was there in 2011, but there are only a select few who have anything on Beachy, who not only underwent Tommy John in 2012, but also blew out his elbow again in 2014 and had to start rolling the boulder back uphill, a real-life Sisyphus.

"Some of those lows were awfully low when I didn’t even feel like I was going to be able to just go out and play catch again,” said Beachy, who admitted there were multiple days when he was reduced to tears by the process. “There were days when I was standing in the outfield jealous of guys that are just shagging a ball, picking it up and throwing it to the guy with the bucket. Just something simple like that makes you look at the game differently."

In McCarthy’s case, he was four starts into a new four-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers last season, coming off his first year of 200 innings, when something went pop. His season was done just like that, and the layoff will continue into this season.

Yet in a sign of just how detailed recovery from Tommy John surgery is these days, McCarthy’s schedule has him starting his own spring training routine in May, having minor league rehab starts in June and then not just returning before the All-Star break, but having two starts with the Dodgers by then.

What that schedule doesn’t show are all the mind games ahead, and the days when it will feel like that schedule never will be accomplished. McCarthy’s return to a baseball setting, by reporting to spring training, is a bit of a good news/bad news scenario.

"You feel like a loner, not part of the team," said Anderson, whose elbow blew out when he was a member of the Oakland Athletics. "You feel like an outcast in a way, but you also welcome the sight of people, too. It’s better now because you are around baseball and around other players as opposed to the offseason when you’re seemingly by yourself doing monotonous exercises and stuff, day in and day out."

McCarthy’s latest cleared hurdle came Wednesday and was marked by the fact that a light throwing session was made different because he used a catcher in the squatting position. Recovering from Tommy John is not unlike monitoring a long drive on the highway by counting all the exit ramps being passed.

"Us being friends, if he comes in one day and he feels something that he thinks is abnormal, he might ask if I went through the same thing and I can tell him what I did or didn’t do," Anderson said. "He can kind of lean on me that way. It always helps to have somebody who’s gone through it."

The monotony lets your mind wander, sending McCarthy into thoughts about how the surgery works in the first place. Fittingly enough, the surgery was pioneered in the 1970s by former Dodgers team doctor Frank Jobe, when he rebuilt the elbow of pitcher Tommy John, of course.

Of particular interest to McCarthy is the idea that a tendon is used to replace an elbow ligament and that the tendon essentially morphs itself into a ligament. McCarthy’s tendon came from the inside of his right forearm, but they can also come from a leg or even a cadaver.

McCarthy is fascinated by the metamorphosis, wondering if there is a segment of the population that would be willing to get Tommy John surgery in the name of science and allow themselves to be opened up at various points of the rehab process to see just when the change from tendon to ligament takes place.

Yes, the recovery from Tommy John surgery apparently can mess with your mind that much.

"They take a tendon out and then your body has to say, 'OK, we have to turn this into something completely new,'" McCarthy said. "And then it has to hold up."

And hold up it usually does, although Beachy is in that rare group where it didn’t. Yet even he will advocate for the surgery’s success rate.

"There are too many success stories for anybody to have any worries coming back, especially from a first one," Beachy said. "I wouldn’t think anybody should be worried about that. Of course (a setback) is going to happen a little bit, but not to a serious level. It’s just that age-old thing that you try not to get too high when it’s going good and not get too low when it’s going bad."

That setback comes when your arm feels injured again. McCarthy is ready for it. He has heard the stories and has prepared himself.

"I know these next couple of months, when you really start to ask more of it, and you’re stressing something that was surgically repaired, you’ll say, 'OK, that’s it. This is all done. We’re going to hell,'" McCarthy said. "Then by lunch that day you’ll feel fine and think, 'OK, quit worrying.'"

Each Tommy John surgery needs to come with its own counselor.

"For me, I would wake up every morning and it feels good, I play catch and it feels good and then [the] rest of the afternoon and evening I can feel it," Beachy said. "It’s like a switch turned on and it’s there buzzing like a street light. That’s where it’s like, 'Oh man is this going to go away? What is it going to feel like in the morning?'

"Then every morning you wake up and feel normal and then go through the same struggles again the next night. You try not to think about it. I found, going through it twice, the more I can keep myself just to where I am focused on something, whether it be a movie or a card game or whatever, where you can just focus on something and not give your mind time to wander and think about what it’s feeling, the better."

Notice that Beachy never included brain-teasers among his methods for escape.


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     The article said:

01. "In Brandon McCarthy’s case, Mr. McCarthy was four starts into a new four-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers last season, coming off his first year of 200 innings, when something went pop."
02. "Mr. McCarthy's season was done just like that, and the layoff will continue into this season."

     Unless Mr. McCarthy understands what caused Mr. McCarthy to injure his Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. McCarthy will injure the replacement Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     Therefore, to prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. McCarthy has to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0150.  Yanks pitching prospect says MRI didn't confirm worst fear
NJ.com
February 27, 2016

TAMPA, FL: Yankees pitching prospect Domingo German said the MRI he had on his right elbow Friday afternoon didn't confirm what could have been the club's worst fears.

German said he didn't know the exact results of the test, but that doctors told him he may be dealing with a nerve issue. He said he didn't believe the pain he experienced Friday afternoon was related to the Tommy John surgery he had in 2015.

The operation, which reconstructed his ulnar collateral ligament, kept him out all of last season. He's still rehabilitating from it.

German felt the pain after his bullpen session Friday.

The Yankees acquired the 23-year-old from the Marlins in a five-player trade that also netted them Garrett Jones and Nathan Eovaldi last season. The Yankees sent Martin Prado and David Phelps to Miami in the deal.

German hasn't pitched a regular season inning for the Yankees, who believe his future is as a starting pitcher. German participated in the 2014 All-Star Futures game after a strong showing with the Marlins in Single-A. He hasn't pitched above that level.


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     The article said:

01. "Domingo German's MRI didn't confirm what could have been the club's worst fears."
02. "The Yankee Medical Staff diagnosed a nerve issue."
03. "Mr. German had reconstructed ulnar collateral ligament surgery."
04. "Mr. German is still rehabilitating from it."
05. "Mr. German felt the pain after his bullpen session Friday."

     To prevent irritating the Ulnar Nerve in the groove behind the medial epicondyle, baseball pitchers need to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     This action prevents baseball pitchers from bending their pitching elbow more than ninety degrees.

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0151.  After mostly two years of inactivity, Taillon ready to take mound for Pirates
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
February 28, 2016

BRADENTON, FL: Remember Jameson Taillon?

It has been two years since the burly right-hander pitched in a competitive situation. Finally recovered from elbow and hernia surgeries, Taillon on Monday will start in the Pirates' Black-Gold scrimmage at McKechnie Field.

Usually, a two-inning outing in a mostly empty ballpark is nothing to get worked up about. Taillon, however, is eager to get on the mound.

“More than anything, I'm excited that I'm not being treated differently and I'm moving along quickly,” Taillon said. “In the back of my head I was a little worried that I would be throwing a little slower (routine) than most. But I'm pretty much on the same schedule as everybody else.”

Taillon will throw a normal bullpen session later in the week, then be slotted to start a Grapefruit League game. The Pirates plan to give him a couple of starts, then reassign Taillon to minor league camp.

Barring any setbacks, Taillon will begin the season in the rotation at Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates are not considering holding him back for extended spring training.

“There will come a point in camp when you have to prioritize innings because you only have so many to work with,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Until that point, we do want to get a look at some of our (prospects), guys who can create depth, because some of them might find their way to our major league team this season.”

While Taillon, 24, was out of action, righty Tyler Glasnow surpassed him as the club's top-rated prospect. Scouts say Glasnow might have a higher ceiling than Taillon, though both project as top-of-the-rotation starters.

Yet, many Pirates evaluators believe Taillon, a first-round pick in 2010, is more likely than Glasnow to reach the majors first this year.

One of Taillon's edges is a mental toughness honed during two long and often lonely years of rehab.

“He's got quite a backbone about two ‘wasted' years,” Hurdle said. “This man's worked so incredibly hard and has gotten stronger in so many different areas outside the physical activity on the mound.”

The long layoff has not affected Taillon's stuff or command. The 12-to-6 curveball is still a hammer. His changeup can be effective. And his 96 mph fastball remains a devastating pitch.

“The biggest thing I'm looking for now is the ball is coming out of his hand good and he's healthy,” pitching coach Ray Searage said. “The more reps he gets in, the sharper he's going to be. Right now, we're nothing but (looking) forward. All the stuff that's happened, I'm leaving it behind us.”

Taillon had Tommy John surgery in April 2014. During a rehab outing last July, he felt his groin grab when he stuck a landing on the mound.

“I finished that inning and didn't think too much of it,” Taillon said. ”I went fishing later that day and threw a couple casts and was just holding my breath because it hurt. That's when I knew.”

The operation to repair the hernia cost him the rest of the summer. In the early autumn, he pitched in the Instructional League in Florida — a handful of outings in front of empty bleachers at Pirate City.

For two years, Taillon was the best Pirates prospect who nobody was seeing.

“It was almost a little refreshing, honestly,” Taillon said. “My whole life, I've dealt with expectations, pressure and hype. For essentially two years, I got to get away from the spotlight.

“I got to work on things I might not have gotten to work on in Triple-A if I was trying to put up numbers to impress people and overthrow maybe. I was able to get more comfortable making adjustments without people's eyes all over me.”

That all changes Monday.

Welcome back to the hype, Jameson.

“Thanks,” he said, grinning. “It feels good to be back.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "It has been two years since Jameson Taillon pitched in a competitive situation."
02. "Mr. Taillon has finally recovered from elbow and hernia surgeries."
03. "The long layoff has not affected Mr. Taillon's stuff or command."
04. "Mr. Taillon still throws his 12-to-6 curveball and his changeup can be effective."
05. "Mr. Taillon still throws his 96 mph fastball."
06. "Mr. Taillon had Tommy John surgery in April 2014."
07. "During a rehab outing last July, Mr. Taillon felt his groin grab."
08. "The operation to repair the hernia cost Mr. Taillon the rest of the summer."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Taillon has to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     To prevent injuring the Adductor Brevis muscle (groin), Mr. Taillon needs to turn his pitching foot to at least forty-five degees toward home plate and use the Rectus Femoris muscle to drive his body forwardly toward home plate.

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0152.  Simmons follows slower rehab protocol Braves using for Tommy John surgery
Atlanta Journal Constitution
February 28, 2016

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL: It’s been just over a year since Braves reliever Shae Simmons had Tommy John elbow surgery, and the promising young right-hander is still probably three or four months from his projected return to the majors.

It’s not that Simmons has had any setbacks, but rather the Braves are trying to make sure he and others don’t.

After having a few prominent pitchers struggle coming back from Tommy John surgery, including two, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, requiring a second surgery – Beachy had three elbow surgeries including two TJ operations in a 21-month span – the Braves are trying out a new, longer rehab program.

Instead of aiming to have Simmons back pitching on a rehab stint in about 12 months and back in the big leagues in 13-14 months, as they would have in the past, the Braves are aiming to have him back in the majors in May or June. That would be 15-16 months after his February 2015 surgery.

“I guess technically I’m healthy,” said Simmons, who has thrown a few times off the bullpen mound recently. “But they want to take me a little slower. They’re doing the new protocol that they’re going by, so we’re looking at about 14 months (before beginning a rehab assignment). I guess they just want to test it and see the success rates compared to the past.

“That’s why we’re projecting somewhere between May and June, I guess, is when I’ll be in playing form.”

In the past, some pitchers – former Braves reliever Peter Moylan, for example – were back pitching in rehab assignments or even in the big leagues in about 12 months, then had setbacks and returned to the disabled list. There are some medical experts who believed that pushing the envelope in rehab, trying to get back too quickly, likely contributed to subsequent setbacks.

The Braves want to see if slowing the process, and making the pitcher know from the outset what the rehab plan is and that it won’t benefit them to try to speed up that plan, will allow for a more thorough healing process and help avoid any setbacks late in the process or soon after returning.

“I understand,” said Simmons, 25. “I’d rather take my time and make sure I’m healthy than rush back and be in Triple-A or the big leagues trying to work on things that I could have worked on earlier and taken my time and really worked on finesse.

“I think it’s good for both sides. It gives them more opportunity to look at others perform those roles, and it just means I’ve got to work harder to get that spot back.”

He feels good physically and is confident about his comeback.

“I’m at that one-year mark, so technically I could be (throwing full-speed),” he said. “But I’ve been staying around 75-80 percent. Don’t really want to (air) it out yet. But every now and then I’ll test the waters — not on the mound but, like, when I’m playing catch. Throw a few hard, see if it’s feeling good.

“Nothing’s painful, it’s just a matter of building up your throwing program, going through normal fatigue.”

As a rookie in 2014, Simmons posted a 2.93 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings before going on the disabled list July 29 with a sore shoulder. The right-hander didn’t pitch again that season, and when he ramped up his offseason throwing program back home in Missouri just before 2015 spring training, it was his elbow that blew.

Before the injury, Simmons had been expected to compete for a setup role in 2015 spring training. He had been rated as the No. 16 prospect in the Braves organization by Baseball America. Now the Braves have many more prospects and offseason acquisitions being considered for just a few open spots in a once-again-revamped bullpen.

“So many guys,” said Simmons, impressed by both the quality and quantity of arms in the Braves’ jam-packed clubhouse. “But it’s good. That’s what they’re trying to do, so… Hopefully the organization can just build off that.”

He’s just glad to be back with the team, after spending most of the past year living near the Braves’ minor league/spring-training headquarters outside Orlando, going through the daily grind of the rehab process under the supervision of team doctors and physical therapists.

“It’s hard when you’re not playing. You feel so disconnected from the team,” Simmons said. “It’s just nice to be in this atmosphere in spring training.”


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     The article said:

01. "After having a few prominent pitchers struggle coming back from Tommy John surgery, including two, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, requiring a second surgery – Beachy had three elbow surgeries including two TJ operations in a 21-month span – the Braves are trying out a new, longer rehab program."
02. "Instead of aiming to have Shae Simmons back pitching on a rehab stint in about 12 months and back in the big leagues in 13-14 months, as they would have in the past, the Braves are aiming to have him back in the majors in May or June."
03. "That would be 15-16 months after his February 2015 surgery."

     Instead of taking 15 -16 months to recover from replacement Ulnar Collateral Ligament surgery, after the holes have grown tight, the Braves should have their surgically-repaired baseball pitchers complete my 120-Day High School Baseball Pitchers Interval-Training Program.

     Then, the surgically-repaired baseball pitchers will never again suffer any pitching injury.

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Simmons has to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0153.  Hello from the past from St. Leo

Wanted to drop you a not to say hello and thanks for helping me with my career. You probably don’t remember me but I was a student at St Leo when you taught and coached baseball there.

You did a fundraiser for the baseball team. The way it worked was you had 4 different GMs (students) bid on each baseball player you has in the program. The more money you raised the more money the GM would have to bid on the better players. I was one of a few GMs.  Well I raised the most money by knocking on doors in Dade City business.  Not sure how much I raised but it was more than the other Students. I won the tournament by having the best players.

The part where I learned was how to raise money for a team. Well I got my BA and wanted to work in Pro sports. Long story I went to the baseball meetings that year and had a great story  to tell on how I raised money for my College team.  The 1st year out St. Leo I became the Ass’t Gm of the Clinton Giants, single A baseball in the Midwest league.  That was 20 some years ago and I have told the story about how to get into sports many times and felt I needed to say thanks you to you for helping me with my Career.

I have been with the New Orleans Saints going on 17 years and the New Orleans Pelicans for 4 years, we have the same owner owning both teams.

Hope your well, thanks again!!

Michael Stanfield
Senior Vice President of Sales
New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans


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     That you were able to participate in helping the Saint Leo baseball team and then make it a career is a great story.

     You found something that you loved and I sure that you passed on that joy to all with whom you worked.

     I never had as much fun as I had by teaching classes and teaching and training baseball pitchers and position players.

     Had I had my way, I would still be teaching classes and teaching and training baseball pitchers and position players at Saint Leo.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, March 13, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0154.  Capps has MRI on sore right elbow
Miami Herald
March 01, 2016

JUPITER, FL

The Marlins managed to make it through spring training last season relatively unscathed in terms of serious injuries. But barely a week into spring training this year, they could be looking at a major loss to their bullpen.

Manager Don Mattingly confirmed Tuesday that hard-throwing reliever Carter Capps — a contender for the closer’s role — underwent a MRI after complaining of soreness in his right elbow.

“[Capps] came up with some elbow soreness the other day so he had an MRI done I believe it was yesterday, and he’s seeing our doctor today,” Mattingly said following the team’s 5-1 victory Tuesday over the University of Miami.

Mattingly said the film of the MRI was being sent for a second opinion, and that the team should get answer relatively quickly.

“It’s concerning any time you have to stop a guy from throwing. But at this point, there’s not really much to talk about until we really get down what is going on and where we go from here.

“I’m not sure how quick that will be, but it won’t be long.”

Capps didn’t pitch the final two months of last season after going on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain. He also went on the DL in 2014 for the same issue.

Capps entered spring training competing with A.J. Ramos for the closer’s role — a spot the Marlins figured would help lighten his workload and strain on his right arm.

One source said the Marlins are looking around the league for potential relief help through a trade.

“We have a lot of guys in the pen that can step it up,” Ramos said. “Obviously it makes things easier if Capps is here with us, but there are guys that have been there and we’re still in good shape.”

Ramos recorded 32 saves last season after taking over for Steve Cishek.

And while he appears capable of filling the team’s closer role again, Ramos said Capps’ potential loss would be a blow to the team’s bullpen and understood the Marlins’ desire to consider Capps for the closer’s spot.

“Carter is a big part of our bullpen,” Ramos said. “His stuff is amazing. I don’t know the specifics of [his status], but hopefully we get it figured out.”

Last season, Capps led the majors with a whiff rate of 16.84 strikeouts per nine innings. The next highest was then-Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman, who averaged 15.74 strikeouts per nine.

Mattingly said earlier in the spring that using Capps as the closer in the ninth could reduce the wear on his arm.

Capps has not consistently closed since 2012 when he was in the minors due to the elbow issues. That season as a member of the Seattle Mariners’ Double A and Triple A squads, Capps recorded 19 saves in 21 opportunities, and posted 75 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings (39 relief appearances).

Capps appeared in only 17 games in 2014 and only 30 games last year before the elbow injury forced him to miss the remaining two months of the season.

Last year’s setback cut short what seemed like a step in the right direction for Capps, who struck out 58 batters and walked only seven with a 1.16 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. The prior season although pitching in 10 2/3 innings less, Capps posted a 3.98 ERA with only 25 strikeouts and five walks with a 1.18 WHIP.


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     The article said:

01. "Carter Capps underwent a MRI after complaining of soreness in his pitching elbow."
02. "The MRI was sent for a second opinion."
03. "In the final two months, Mr. Capps was on the disabled list."
04. "Mr. Capp also went on the DL in 2014 for the same issue."
05. "Last season, Mr. Capps led the majors with a whiff rate of 16.84 strikeouts per nine innings."

     To prevent sprained pitching elbows, baseball pitchers need to release their breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger.

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0155.  Tough road back for injured Hollands
Philadelphia Inquirer
March 01, 2016

CLEARWATER, FL: When his body failed him and his mind drained last summer, Mario Hollands went exploring. The Phillies reliever left his condo on Clearwater Beach and ventured to beaches at Indian Rocks and Madeira. He crashed matinee movie showings with Florida's robust collection of retirees. He did not watch baseball.

He read.

"Probably 30 books," Hollands said.

He read depending on his mood. He read about philosophy. He read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. He read other nonfiction. Last week, he pulled Ta-Nehisi Coates' acclaimed Between the World and Me from the top shelf in his locker at Bright House Field.

"If I had read that in the summer, it probably wouldn't have gone well," Hollands said. "I was a little angry and upset."

Almost 11 months ago, on April 8, Hollands underwent Tommy John surgery. The only visible evidence is a half-circle scar on the inside of his left elbow, a reminder the 27-year-old pitcher ignores. "It's just ugly," he said. Hollands, after months of isolation in Florida that prompted constant self reflection, emerged with a greater token from the injury.

He has perspective.

"I thought about life after baseball," Hollands said. "It's hard not to think about it because you have so much time to think. I'm just aware baseball is going to end sometime. I'm going to be ready for whenever it does. Hopefully not for a while."

Those three words, Tommy John surgery, have become so commonplace in the game. A surgeon cuts into the pitcher's elbow, replaces the ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from somewhere else in the body, and a 12- to 18-month timeline for return is slapped on the athlete.

More and more teenagers are opting for the procedure. Some pitchers even return with better velocity on their pitches than before the surgery. Hollands is one of seven Phillies pitchers in camp who had Tommy John surgery. That is more than a quarter of the pitchers in the clubhouse this spring.

But few are prepared for the sort of mental and physical stress of a yearlong rehab. Six days a week. The same people, the same exercises. Every day. The easiest tasks, like straightening a left arm that earned Hollands more than $1 million over the last two seasons, are impossible.

"They didn't tell me," Hollands said, "how miserable the first three months were going to be."

He is a pitcher on the fringe, and Hollands knows that. A 10th-round pick in 2010 and never a prospect, he pitched his way onto the Phillies two springs ago. He appeared in 50 games in 2014. Then, his arm failed.

Hollands has a sociology degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an associate of arts in merchandise marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. He grew up just north of Berkeley, Calif., and he takes pride in his atypical background for a professional athlete.

Keeping his mind stimulated during the confinement of rehab was a challenge.

Hollands arrived at the Carpenter Complex every morning at 9 and stayed until around 2 p.m. while Phillies officials oversaw his return. The first weeks were spent stretching his left arm and its new ligament. That involved eight exercises with Joe Rauch, a minor-league rehab coordinator, and occasional massages. The arm would not comply. The dark thoughts were louder.

"I was almost in tears on some days because it was so much," Hollands said. "We were basically sitting on it to get it straight."

In September, Hollands learned how to throw again. Ray Burris, the team's rehab pitching coach, rebuilt Holland's mechanics. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound pitcher is generating more power from his legs.

"Before I was just whipping it," Hollands said. "I can't do that. My arm would snap off if I threw the way I used to."

He has lived in Clearwater for 11 months and, save the occasional visit by friends from home, Hollands endured the process alone. He did not want his parents to see him hurt and toiling through mundane tasks. "That's not the image I wanted to leave," Hollands said. On the best days, Hollands said, he remembered he was in Clearwater for a reason.

David Hernandez, signed this winter to possibly close for the Phillies, went through the same recovery while he was with Arizona two years ago. He, at least, could commiserate with fellow injured pitcher Patrick Corbin. They played video games. They watched some baseball. Netflix filled the down time.

"It gives you a whole new vision on how to take care of yourself," Hernandez said. "A lot of guys take their health for granted."

There are no guarantees despite the surgery's rise in popularity. Hollands hates hearing talk of how he will throw harder when he returns to games in April or May. He must prove himself again.

Other than opening day last April at Citizens Bank Park, which he attended, Hollands did not watch baseball. It was too difficult, he said, knowing he was helpless to a team that staggered toward 99 losses.

While everything about the Phillies changed, Hollands read. He withstood isolation.

"It feels like I was in a coma for a year," Hollands said. "I woke up, and I'm on a whole new team."


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     The article said:

01. "Almost 11 months ago, on April 08, Mario Hollands underwent Tommy John surgery."
02. "Mr. Hollands arrived at the Carpenter Complex every morning at 9 and stayed until around 2 p.m."
03. "The first weeks were spent stretching his left arm and its new ligament."
04. "That involved eight exercises with Joe Rauch, a minor-league rehab coordinator."
05. "The arm would not comply."
06. "The dark thoughts were louder."
07. "In September, Mr. Hollands learned how to throw again."
08. "Ray Burris, the team's rehab pitching coach, rebuilt Holland's mechanics."
09. "The 6-foot-5, 230-pound pitcher is generating more power from his legs."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Holland has to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0156.  Wildcats pitching staff playing shorthanded
SB Nation
March 01, 2016

After two weekends of road trips, the Arizona Wildcats will hold their home opener on Wednesday night against Cal State Fullerton with a record of 4-3.

The biggest issue facing this team early in the year has been the pitching staff. So far, Arizona has a combined ERA of 6.20, which is only better than Utah in the Pac-12.

One guy that pitching coach Dave Lawn told me would see a lot of time early in the year was fifth-year senior Tyler Crawford. Crawford has missed the better part of the last two seasons due to a severe case of gastritis followed by Tommy John Surgery, which he thinks were possibly related to each other.

But right before the season started, Crawford suffered a setback with his elbow recovery. Coach Johnson told me on Sunday that they took an MRI, and it came back negative, so they are hoping to have him back in the near future.

One guy that's missing that won't be back anytime soon is Tyger Talley. Talley was with the team in the fall, but when the spring roster was released, his name was missing. Last season, Talley had back and shoulder issues that would hit him after pitching about four innings, resulting in about a 10 MPH drop in velocity. His back issues returned, and he was unable to rehab it enough to return this spring. There is a chance that he plays for Arizona in 2017 though.

Talley and Crawford are two huge pieces missing in the backend of the Wildcats bullpen. And for the most part, that part of the team has struggled immensely through two weeks.


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     The article said:

01. "Tyler Crawford missed the better part of the last two seasons."
02. "Mr. Crawford had a severe case of gastritis followed by Tommy John Surgery."
03. "Mr. Crawford thinks that gastritis brought on the Tommy John Surgery."
04. "Before this season started, Mr. Crawford suffered a setback with his elbow recovery."

     Gastritis has nothing to do with injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Crawford has to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     The article said:

01. "Tyger Talley was with the team in the fall."
02. "The coach released Mr. Talley."
03. "Last season, Mr. Talley had back and shoulder issues."
04. "Mr. Talley was unable to rehab his back and shoulders issues."

     To prevent injuries to the back, baseball pitchers have to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.      To prevent injuries to the shoulder, baseball pitchers have to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0157.  Anderson to have tests on back
Los Angeles Times
March 02, 2016

Brett Anderson left the Dodgers' spring-training camp Wednesday to undergo tests after tweaking his back while throwing batting practice the day before.

Manager Dave Roberts downplayed the severity of Anderson's condition. He indicated the team gave Anderson a day off after he reported soreness.

Anderson underwent surgery for a herniated disk in 2014. He recovered to make a career-best 31 starts for the Dodgers in 2015. He rejoined the team this season after accepting a one-year, $15.8-million qualifying offer.

The back condition started while he pitched for the Colorado Rockies in 2014. Anderson avoided the disabled list last season and felt confident about his ability to remain healthy in 2016.


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     The article said:

01. "Brett Anderson tweaked his back throwing batting practice."
02. "In 2014, Mr. Anderson underwent surgery for a herniated disk."
03. "In 2015, Mr. Anderson had a career-best 31 starts."
04. "Mr. Anderson has undergone elbow ligament-replacement surgery, a stress fracture in his right foot and suffered a broken finger after being hit by a pitch."

     To prevent injuries to the back, baseball pitchers have to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0158.  Floyd grateful he can simply throw a baseball again
ESPN.com
March 02, 2016

DUNEDIN, FL: Just imagine what it would be like if you could no longer do something you'd done all your life. Something that defined you. Something that had shaped your entire world for as long as you could remember.

Just imagine what it would be like if your occupation was "pitcher" -- and then, twice in a span of eight months, you went to throw a baseball and your arm basically snapped.

Imagine the pain, physical and mental. The uncertainty. The questions you would ask yourself, not to mention your doctors and the people closest to you.

If you can imagine any of that, then you can imagine what it's been like to walk in the shoes of Gavin Floyd in the past two years.

"You know, life is not all cotton candy and ice cream cones," Floyd was saying this week, his arm back in one piece, with a big-league contract and a locker in the Torotnto Blue Jays clubhouse to remind him of that. "No matter who you are, you're going to go through stuff. So the more you can stay focused and enjoy what God's given you right now, and have an impact on people, then you can just enjoy the ride. And enjoy the people around you."

He's 33 now. It's 15 years since he was the fourth-overall pick in the 2001 draft, taken three picks after Joe Mauer and one pick ahead of Mark Teixeira. So not so long ago, he thought he'd just about seen it all and done it all. But little did he know what modern medicine would have in store for him just around the bend.

First came Tommy John surgery in May of 2013, which marked the end of a seven-year run with the Chicago White Sox. At the time, he thought thatwas a traumatic detour in his career. He had no idea, of course, what was awaiting him 13 months later.

It was June 13, 2014, his ninth big-league start after a seemingly routine Tommy John rehab. He was working on a two-hit shutout in Washington. And then, with no warning, he unfurled a curve ball to Jayson Werth to start the seventh inning. And the "pop" he felt was the olecranon bone in his elbow breaking, for no reason he or anyone else could fathom.

Imagine that happening. The thoughts racing through your head.

"I kind of had the mind-set that this could be it," Floyd found himself saying 21 months later. "I mean, any time you have major surgery, there's always that risk. So definitely, when you break it, you think: 'Man, am I going to be able to throw a baseball again?'"

But the doctors reassured him, inserted eight screws and a metal plate in his elbow and told him, "You'll be fine." As it turned out, though, he wouldn't be so fine.

Eight months later he went to camp last spring with the Cleveland Indians. He'd felt a little pain earlier in camp. But that was normal, he was told. Just part of the healing process. So in early March, he walked to the mound to do what pitchers do every spring to build arm strength and rediscover the rhythm of pitching -- throw a session of live batting practice. But then ...

"I threw a pitch, and it felt like [the bone] just released," Floyd said. "Then I threw another pitch, and it was just super painful. And I just said, 'It's time to shut it down.'"

Still, he tried to convince himself it was nothing. Routine stuff. Until he tried to throw again three days later, "and it was just excruciating pain."

But he'd been told along the way that pain was normal after a fracture. So he convinced himself that maybe this was only tendinitis, maybe this was no big deal, and if he could "just get through the pain," everything would be OK. Except it wouldn't.

He tried playing a little light catch, "at maybe 60-70 percent." Next thing he knew, his elbow had swelled up like a bowling ball. And the impossible had turned possible. He had broken that olecranon bone for the second time. That had really happened. To him.

Imagine having that happen. Your brain trying to process this moment, wondering how this could possibly be true, wondering if his body was trying to tell him something he didn't want to hear.

"The second time I fractured it, I was definitely thinking this could be it," Floyd said. "But then they told me, 'There are options.'"

So he went searching for those options. And one of the first things he did was phone Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar, who had fractured this same bone in 2010 and eventually ground all the way back to make an All-Star team. Delabar offered enough encouragement that Floyd resolved he would try again.

Except this time, when he resumed throwing, "it was a night-and-day different experience," he said. "I had no pain at all. I felt locked in from the beginning."

Amazingly, fewer than than six months later, he was back in the big leagues with the Indians, trotting in on Sept. 2 to pitch the seventh inning in relief -- in Toronto, coincidentally enough. He buzzed through three hitters named Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, 1-2-3, on 15 pitches. And looked at what had just happened in a different light.

As he told this story in the Toronto clubhouse, even the guy at the next locker found himself paying rapt attention.

"Makes you not take it for granted, huh?" asked another walking comeback saga, Brad Penny.

"You definitely come back with a different perspective about things," Floyd replied. "Just an appreciation, for sure. They always talk about, 'Go out there like it's the last time you're going to throw [a baseball].'"

"You don't know," Penny interjected.

"Yeah," Floyd said. "Sometimes it's too late."

But luckily, it wasn't. Not for him. As he walked off the mound that day in Toronto, "it reminded me of my first time, of my debut," he said. "Kind of like a kid again.

"I remember my first warm-up throw ... was halfway up the backstop," Floyd went on. "My adrenaline was just really high. And I was like, 'All right, let's settle in.' But then I was able to go out there and do it. And it was definitely a mark in my career. Just real thankful to God to be able to throw again."

And now, he's just as thankful to have the chance the Blue Jays have given up. The new GM, Ross Atkins, and new team president, Mark Shapiro, both came from Cleveland and had a special feeling about him. So they gave him a one-year, $1-million big-league contract. Now the rest is up to him.

"The stuff is clearly still there," Atkins said. "The depth to his pitches, arm-speed, velocity, it's all there. They were all there at the end of last year. So now recovery and command are the only things left."

If Floyd shows this spring that he's healthy, the best-case scenario is that he becomes the Blue Jays' fifth starter. Or he could land in the bullpen, depending on how the rest of their staff shakes out.

But considering the way his world has spun during the past 21 months, the real triumph here is that Floyd has somehow regained the faith that he can throw a baseball again, and his arm will stay completely attached.

"Baseball is a love-hate relationship sometimes," he said, reflectively. "But this is a game. And life is way bigger than just this game. And life is short. I'm not trying to say to celebrate every moment. But be grateful and thankful for the days you are on this Earth."


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     The article said:

01. "After a seven-year run, in May 2013, Gavin Floyd had Tommy John surgery."
02. "In June 13, 2014, Mr. Floyd unfurled a curve ball felt his olecranon process in his elbow breaking."
03. "Mr. Floyd and anybody else could fathom why his broke his pitching elbow."
04. "Eight screws and a metal plate later, the doctors reassured Mr. Floyd that his elbow would be fine."
05. "In early March, Mr. Floyd walked to the mound to throw a session of live batting practice."
06. "Mr. Floyd tried playing a little light catch 60-70 percent."
07. "Mr. Floyd's elbow had swelled up like a bowling ball."
08. "Mr. Floyd had broken his olecranon process for the second time."
09. "Mr. Floyd telephoned Steve Delabar."
10. "Mr. Delabar had fractured this same bone."
11. "Mr. Delabar offered enough encouragement that Floyd resolved he would try again."

     To prevent fracturing the olecranon process of the Ulna bone in the pitching forearm, baseball pitchers have to release their breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger.

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0159.  Ryu to rest after feeling shoulder discomfort
MLB.com
March 02, 2016

PHOENIX, AZ: Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is being given a few extra days of rest after experiencing some discomfort in his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Ryu, who missed the 2015 season after undergoing labrum surgery, hasn't thrown off a mound since Friday, and the lefty probably won't again for a few more days.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the discomfort is considered normal and is not a setback.

"We're just backing off because he felt something, but this is all part of our cautious plan to bring him back slowly," said Roberts. "It's not a setback."

Ryu didn't sound particularly worried when he said he's "just following the pace of what they told me" after his second bullpen session.

"There's definitely no pain," Ryu said. "A little typical soreness. I'm very happy and satisfied with the timetable. Even after my Tommy John surgery [which he had in high school], there were good times and bad times. I'm sure the next [bullpen session] will be very soon."


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     The article said:

01. "Hyun-Jin Ryu has discomfort in his surgically repaired left shoulder."
02. "Mr. Ryu hasn't thrown off a mound since Friday."

     To prevent discomfort in surgically-repaired pitching shoulders, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoudlers forward together over their glove foot.

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0160.  Dan Gustav comments

Dear Dr. Mike Marshall,

Could you please advise Mr. Stokes to stop spamming the comment section of the MLB and all Nolan Ryan and NPA related videos.

I feel as if you should pitch in the way that works for you, and that there is not one specific way that everyone has to pitch.

People like Mr. Stokes only hurt your reputation with his ignorance.

I know what you are trying to do is good, but people like him really make me not want to even consider this pitching motion.

Thanks.

From one pitcher to another, Dan?


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Dear Dan Gustav,

     My tendency is to allow all readers to have their say. However, when someone interferes with others, I would ask offenders to make their statements and allow others to make their statements.

     With regard to your opinion: "there is not one specific way that everybody has to pitch,' just like every human movement, there is only one perfect baseball pitching motion.

     When baseball pitchers suffer pitching injuries, their baseball pitching motion is not perfect.

     To prevent injuries to the pitching shoulder, instead of using their Pectoralis Major muscle, in the perfect baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers need to use their Latissimus Dorsi muscle.

     To prevent injuries to the pitching elbow, instead of using the Brachialis muscle, in the perfect baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers need to use their Triceps Brachii muscle.

     To prevent injuries to the pitching forearm, instead of using the Biceps Brachii muscle, in the perfect baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers need to use their Pronator Teres muscle.

     I guarantee that my baseball pitching motion is not only injury-free, but it also maximizes release velocity and consistency and enables baseball pitchers to master the wide variety of high-quality pitchers that baseball pitchers need to succeed against the four types of baseball batters.

     Sincerely,

Dr. Mike Marshall

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0160.  The fans and players are coming around to the facts of the terrible dangerous motions.

I still get the finger more than ever, but I get some really nice people that get what we are doing to improve baseball players lives.

I just wish that the cortisone use was more open to baseball players before they sign this enforced contracts.

Michael Down the Acromial Line Stokes!!!


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     I want all baseball pitchers to do my wrist weight exercises, throw their heavy ball, horizontally sail the Lid, use the tips of an appropriately-size football to master the spin axes for the wide variety of high-quality pitches that baseball pitchers need to challenge the four types of baseball batters.

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0161.  The College Baseball Pitcher that Trained in my Backyard Reports

I have been pitching real well.

Locking out my arm properly has taken any soreness out of my shoulder that I previously had.

On the pronation curve, do I lock out my arm all the way?

Whenever I horizontal rebound, it is easier to throw the curve and get more spin on it.

I also found it harder to horizontal rebound now that I have been locking out my arm correctly.


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     Congrats on pitching real well.

     To take any soreness out of the pitching shoulder, you need to turn the back of your pitching upper arm to face toward home plate. That is what I call 'locking' the pitching shoulder. In the pitching shoulder, we never want the pitching upper arm to go behind the acromial line.

     When you pronate the release of your Maxline or Torque Pronation Curve, the Pronator Teres muscle not only turns the thumb of the pitching hand downward, it also flexes (bends) the pitching elbow. Because the Pronator Teres muscle flexes (bends) the pitching elbow, it is impossible to bang the olecranon process into the olecranon fossa (that would be 'locking out' the pitching elbow). That is why I teach baseball pitchers to pronate the pitching forearm with every type of pitch.

     When you 'horizontally rebound' the pitching upper arm, the Latissimus Dorsi muscle gives you a more powerful inward rotation of the pitching upper arm. That is why you are able to throw my pronation curves, but the more spin comes from the 'pronation snap' through release.

     If by 'locking out the arm correctly,' then you should turn the back of the pitching upper arm to face toward home plate. In our 'Slingshot' position, we want the pitching upper arm vertically beside the head with the pitching forearm horizontally behind pointing toward second base. When you have more off-season training with the wrist weight exercises, you will be able to 'horizontally rebound' your horizontal pitching forearm. For now, with every pitch that your throw, you need to work on 'sticking' your pitching hand into the center of the strike zone.

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0162.  Why do Pitchers Not Get Hurt?

I don't know the exact figure, but many pitchers get hurt. You've obviously spent a lot of time on why pitchers get hurt.

Have you spent any time researching why traditional pitchers don't get hurt?

Virtually all pitchers pitch with what you call the traditional pitching motion.

They all stride too far, supinate curve balls, bend at the waist, Reverse bounce and more.

1. My general question is why do some get hurt and others don't.

2. If that question is too broad, Specifically why do some pitchers have Tommy John surgery and others don't?

I see pitchers that I wonder how they get through a game let alone a year but they don't get hurt.

3. Are some people simply born with stronger ligaments than others?


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     Those baseball pitchers that stride too far injure their pitching knee.

     Those baseball pitchers that supinate the releases of their breaking pitches lose extension and flexion ranges of motion, have bone (hyaline) chips broke off their olecranon fossa, develop bone spurs that grow through the openings in the hyaline cartilage. However, baseball don't count these injuries as injuries.

     However, they do count breaking the olecranon process off the proximal end of their Ulna bone.

     Those baseball pitchers that bend at the waist injure their lower back.

     Those baseball pitchers that reverse bounce their pitching forearm and don't contract the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle injure their Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

01. All 'traditional' professional baseball pitchers suffer pitching injuries. If not during their career, then after their career. Ferguson Jenkins had both knee replaced. Andy Messersmith had a hip replacement. And on and on and on.

02. 'Traditional' baseball pitchers that do not injure their Ulnar Collateral Ligament contract the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle during the acceleration phase of their baseball pitching motion.

03. No.

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0163.  Matzek aims to overcome shaky spring debut
MLB.com
March 02, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Left-hander Tyler Matzek's first game in a Rockies uniform since last May was rough -- allowing three runs, including a Welington Castillo homer, two walks and a wild pitch without an out in a 6-3 loss to the D-backs in the Cactus League opener on Wednesday.

Matzek, who began last season in the rotation, but pitched his way out by May and had to deal with diagnosed performance anxiety, went to watch video after leaving the game in search of positives. For example, he thought he had Castillo off balance, but the D-backs' catcher hit it enough.

"I was just looking for something good," Matzek said. "I wanted to see some of those pitches that got hit. I thought I threw some pitches, just not enough of them."

Matzek was 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA in five starts last season, but the 19 walks and three hit batsmen in 22 innings were alarming. The Rockies sent him to the Minors, where he spent some time working with coaches without appearing in games, and Matzek even took a complete break from baseball. He finished with solid relief work at Triple-A Albuquerque. He admitted nervousness on Wednesday.

"The first-time jitters were out there, and I brought that to the mound," Matzek said. "I made some good pitches there -- I made some bad ones, but I made some good ones. I should've thrown more of the good ones."

The Rockies are looking at Matzek, 25, as just another fellow who struggled in his first Spring Training game.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Tyler Matzek was 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA in five starts last season."
02. "But, Mr. Matzek walked 19 and hit three batsmen in 22 innings."
03. "The Rockies sent Mr. Matzek to the Minors."
04. "The Rockies had Mr. Matzek spend his time working with coaches without appearing in games."
05. "Mr. Matzek even took a complete break from baseball."
06. "Mr. Matzek finished with solid relief work at Triple-A Albuquerque."
07. "Mr. Matzek admitted nervousness in his first game in a Rockies uniform since May 2015."

     During the complete break from baseball, I bet that Mr. Matzek trained with his Little League baseball pitching coach.

     That would explain how Mr. Matzek was able to do solid relief work in Triple-A Albuquerque.

     Unfortunately, the Rockies baseball pitching coaches have Mr. Matzek nervous again.

     Give me two weeks with Mr. Matzek and not advise from any of the Rockies baseball pitching coaches and Mr. Matzek will tear up the major leagues.

     The Rockies baseball pitching coaches cannot spell Latissimus Dorsi, let alone use it.

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0164.  UT pitcher Serrano likely requires Tommy John surgery
The Daily News
March 03, 2016

KNOXVILLE, TN: Tennessee’s win over Cincinnati was quickly subdued by the news that junior pitcher Kyle Serrano is likely lost to a season-ending elbow injury.

After visiting with doctors, Serrano learned that the ligament in his pitching elbow has detached from the bone and will, according to Dave Serrano, likely require Tommy John surgery.

Dave Serrano said they will have it re-evaluated on Monday.

“It’s a part of life,” Dave Serrano said. “He’s handled it extremely well but he’s disappointed for his team.

“He’ll be back and he’ll be back in our uniform next year and be pitching for us.”

Serrano was dealing with irritation and inflammation in his right elbow after his start against Memphis on Feb. 20. Serrano skipped a start this past week and had the nagging injury looked at by doctors.

“It is a ligament but it’s not torn,” Dave Serrano said. “I know that for a fact. If he does have a surgery it will probably be Tommy John, but it’s not torn. It’s pulled away from the bone.”

Serrano’s injury alters the trajectory of Tennessee’s pitching staff going forward. Serrano was in line to be one of the Vols weekend starters coming off a sophomore season where he pitched in 22 games and made eight starts. He was 5-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched.

In his lone appearance this season against Memphis in the season-opening series, Serrano started and gave up five runs, one earned, in 3.2 innings while striking out three and walking four.

“We probably just lost 70-80 innings by losing him,” Dave Serrano said. “Someone like Daniel Vasquez and someone else that doesn’t even know yet are going to have to gobble up those innings and be effective.”


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     The article said:

01. "Kyle Serrano is likely lost to a season-ending elbow injury."
02. "The doctors told Mr. Serrano learned that the ligament in his pitching elbow has detached from the bone."
03. "Mr. Serrano will likely require Tommy John surgery."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, Mr. Serrano has to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0165.  Loup's status for opening day in doubt due to elbow strain
Yahoo Sports
March 04, 2016

DUNEDIN, FL: Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Loup has been dealing with an elbow strain since the start of spring training and has suffered a setback in his recovery.

Loup threw Thursday after five days off and still felt discomfort in his left elbow and forearm. He has been diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon, though, an MRI confirmed there is no ligagment damage. The only solution is to rest, so Loup won't throw again for two weeks. Once he resumes his program That would make his return to game action in the third week of the Grapefruit League schedule at the earliest, which is why Blue Jays manager John Gibbons isn't counting on having the left-hander for opening day.

"That’d be kind of tough," Gibbons said Friday. "I don’t want to say no, but it might be real tough. Really it’d be a rush job."

Loup remains hopeful that he's ready for the April 3 opener against Tampa Bay, as his expected absence, would leave Brett Cecil as the only left-handed reliever on the roster. It's a position where the organization lacks depth. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte has been putting in extra work from the left side while Scott Diamond, Chad Girodo, Wade LeBlanc, and Pat McCoy are in camp as minor-league invites.

"You’re always looking for those guys who are really tough on lefties, because most of the top hitters in the game are left-handed hitters,"said Gibbons. “We’ll give them all a look."


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     The article said:

01. "Aaron Loup has been dealing with an elbow strain since the start of spring training."
02. "Mr. Loup threw after five days off and still felt discomfort in his pitching elbow and forearm."
03, "The Blue Jay Medical Staff diagnosed Mr. Loup has strained his flexor tendon."
04. "The MRI confirmed there is no ligagment damage."
05. "The only solution is to rest."
06. "Mr. Loup won't throw again for two weeks."

     Not throwing for two weeks makes the flexor tendon muscles less able to withstand the stress.

     Mr. Loup supinates this breaking pitches.

     As a result, the Pronator Teres tendon cannot protect the Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     To prevent injury to the flexor tendon, baseball pitchers need to pronate the releases of their breaking pitches.

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0166.  Down goes a Braves' pitcher with Tommy John surgery
Atlanta Journal Constitution
March 05, 2016

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL: At some point, the Braves’ need to expand their welcome gift bags to new pitchers: “Welcome to our great, grand organization. Here’s your uniform, cleats, a dozen baseballs, gum, sunflower seeds, half-off coupons to all home games at Disney for your family, which means it will only cost them $137.50 each on the berm, and two extra elbow ligaments, which should be kept in the mini-fridge in your locker.”

The Braves officially opened Chapter 1 for the 2016 season Saturday with the announcement that relief pitcher Andrew McKirahan will have Tommy John surgery. His spring lasted five pitches of one game.

Play ball!

I don’t mean to make light of McKirahan’s season ending. Really. I’m sure he’s a good kid, other than that whole PED suspension a year ago. But this is the second time he will have Tommy John surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, the first time coming in 2012. He’s 26 years old. He probably wasn’t going to win a bullpen spot.

The Braves aren’t the only team to accumulate pitchers who have had — or are destined to have — season-ending elbow surgery. It just seems most gravitate to Atlanta. Of the Braves’ 39 pitchers in camp, at least nine have had T.J. surgery: McKirahan, Manny Banuelos, Jason Grilli, Casey Kelly, Paco Rodriguez, Shae Simmons, Arodys Vizcaino, Dan Winkler and Chris Withrow.

Several past Braves have had the surgery, including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty.

“It’s amazing,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said when asked about the accumulation of T.J. surgeries in baseball. “The craziest point for me was a couple of years ago when Medlen and Beachy went down back-to-back days (before the 2014 season). That’s a body blow. But it’s not just Tommy John. It’s everything. The Dodger just lost Brett Anderson for five months with a (bulging) disc in his back. There’s always something – shoulders, elbow, back. The level of attrition with pitching is staggering. That’s why, with every move we have made, we tried to get back more and more arms.”

Coppolella said McKirahan can “still has a bright future.” I’m not sure if he was being serious. In addition to the two surgeries, McKirahan was suspended 80 games in 2015 after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He’s not exactly setting a great pace for himself.

I asked Coppolella if he just assumes a certain percentage of pitching prospects will have a significant injury. He said former long-time Braves scouting director Paul Snyder said, “If you have eight pitching prospects, you hope two of them hit. So it’s the same. It’s just bad luck sometimes.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Andrew McKirahan will have Tommy John surgery."
02. "Mr. McKirahan's spring training lasted five pitches in one game."
03. "Mr. McKirahan had his first Tommy John surgery in 2012."

     Braves general manager, John Coppolella, said:

01. “It’s amazing.”
02. “The craziest point for me was a couple of years ago when Medlen and Beachy went down back-to-back days (before the 2014 season)."
03. "That’s a body blow."
04. "But, it’s not just Tommy John."
05. "It’s everything."
06. "The Dodger just lost Brett Anderson for five months with a (bulging) disc in his back."
07. "There’s always something – shoulders, elbow, back."
08. "The level of attrition with pitching is staggering."
09. "That’s why, with every move we have made, we tried to get back more and more arms.”

     So, instead of learning how to prevent pitching injuries, Mr. Coppolella prefers to get more arms.

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0167.  Anderson sidelined for three to five months after back surgery
Orange County Register
March 05, 2016

GLENDALE, AZ: Coming into spring training, the Dodgers boasted of the depth they had assembled over the winter. They aren’t as deep as they thought they were two days ago.

Left-hander Brett Anderson felt discomfort in his back while throwing a live batting practice session Tuesday. Tests on Wednesday revealed a bulging disc in Anderson’s back. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in Phoenix on Thursday and is expected to be sidelined for three to five months.

“I was surprised. I was shocked,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Talking to him two days ago and also yesterday morning, he thought it was a couple-days thing and it was going to subside. But obviously, to be cautious we get some images. That’s what we came up with.”

Roberts should not have been surprised or shocked. Anderson’s injury history is lengthy and well-documented. In August 2014, he had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said the same disc was involved in this surgery.

“Going through the diagnosis yesterday, we were told the chance of recurrence with something like this is pretty low, something like 10 percent of the time,” Zaidi said. “It’s obviously an unfortunate thing to happen. He had a healthy season last year. He came into this year in great shape, was doing a lot of preventive stuff to keep something like this from happening.

“Was this a single traumatic thing? Was this something that happened over time? It really could be either, so it’s hard to pinpoint when or how it happened.”

A variety of injuries limited Anderson to no more than 83 1/3 innings in any season from 2011-14. Nonetheless, the Dodgers gambled on Anderson last winter, signing him to a one-year, $10 million contract that grew to $12.4million when Anderson cashed in on incentives and rewarded the Dodgers’ gamble with the healthiest season of his career. He went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA and had career-highs in starts (31) and innings pitched (180 1/3).

The Dodgers gambled again this past winter, making Anderson the qualifying offer of $15.8 million for a one-year contract in order to protect their right to draft-pick compensation if he signed with another team. Anderson accepted the offer, making his own gamble that he could put a second consecutive healthy season together and enter a free-agent market next winter that figures to be thin in starting pitching.

Zaidi said the Dodgers have no buyer’s remorse for making the qualifying offer.

“No. Not at all,” Zaidi said. “Because he was healthy last year and, like we said, the risk of recurrence on this thing is very low. Considering how free agent pitching prices went over the course of the offseason, this was actually looking like a pretty good bargain. This is just an unfortunate thing that happened. We are in a position where we can give some other guys opportunity and we have the depth. It’s obviously unfortunate for him and it definitely hurts us.”

Anderson joins left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder surgery) and right-hander Brandon McCarthy (Tommy John surgery) as Dodgers starting pitchers on the shelf. McCarthy is not expected back until mid-season. Ryu has targeted “some time in May” for his return. But the Korean left-hander has not thrown off a mound since last Friday after experiencing some soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder.

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said he has not scheduled Ryu’s next throwing session, calling that “a medical decision.” Ryu has been taking anti-inflammatory medication for the pain in his shoulder, but the Dodgers insist the extended break does not represent a setback in Ryu’s recovery.

“It’s not surprising (that Ryu had to be shut down),” Honeycutt said. “Not too many guys can have something like that (labrum surgery) and then just breeze through it.”

Zaidi insisted there is no concern about any physical issues with Ryu and that a May return is still realistic.

“There isn’t a strict timeline or a specific target date. He’s coming off a pretty serious surgery obviously,” Zaidi said. “Until a guy is facing live hitters in a game it’s hard to say a specific date.”

Proud as they were of their depth heading into the 2016 season, the Dodgers would have picked March 3 as the date it would start to be tested.

“It’s one of those things where we didn’t think our depth would be tested so early but obviously with Alex (Wood) and (Brandon) Beachy and Mike Bolsinger we’ve got depth,” Roberts said. “Those guys are going to have to step up. We’re going to be evaluating and every day is a test.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Brett Anderson felt discomfort in his back while throwing a live batting practice session."
02. "The next day tests on Mr. Anderson's back revealed a bulging disc."
03. "The next day Mr. Anderson underwent arthroscopic surgery."
04. "The Dodgers Medical Staff expect Mr. Anderson to be sidelined for three to five months."
05. "In August 2014, Mr. Anderston had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back."
06. "Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi said the same disc was involved in this surgery."

     To prevent injury to the lower back, baseball pitchers have to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0168.  Wilson still shelved with a sore shoulder
MLive.com
March 07, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL: A few days on the shelf has turned into a week for Alex Wilson.

And it's still unclear as to when his spring will start.

The Detroit Tigers' right-handed relief pitcher is dealing with a sore right shoulder and did not throw as expected Monday, manager Brad Ausmus said, adding there's concern it could linger.

"It's in a different area of his shoulder, not the one that bothered him at the end of last year," Ausmus said. "In that regard, it's a little concerning. But it's not the same area of the shoulder. So, I guess, there's some concern because of that."

Wilson was shut down from all baseball activities last Monday, Feb. 29, after complaining of a sore shoulder following a bullpen session. It was more sore than normal, he said at the time, and the expectation was that he would only be out "a couple days."

It's now been seven days, and Wilson, who did not travel with the team to Port St. Lucie on Monday for a game against the New York Mets (1:10 p.m., MLB Network), remained confident over the weekend he would return soon.

The Tigers continue to assess the situation cautiously and don't plan to activate Wilson, who was 3-3 with a 2.19 ERA and 1.029 WHIP in 59 appearances in 2015, until he's feeling 100 percent. 

"We want it to be completely gone before he starts taking part in full baseball activities again," Ausmus said. "We don't want to prolong this pain or ache in his shoulder. We'd rather it be gone and start from square one, as long as he's healthy."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Alex Wilson is dealing with a sore pitching shoulder."
02. "The Tigers Medical Staff shut Mr. Wilson down from all baseball activities."
03. "Mr. Wilson complained of a sore shoulder following a bullpen session."

     To prevent injury to the pitching shoulder, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

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0169.  Rockies reliever Diaz needs Tommy John surgery
Associated Press
March 07, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Colorado Rockies reliever Jairo Diaz needs Tommy John elbow surgery and will be sidelined for the 2016 season.

Diaz said Monday he felt something in his right arm while facing the last couple of hitters during Saturday's game against San Diego, when he struggled with his control. Diaz then glanced down at his elbow wrapped in ice and said, "Then this happened."

The hard-throwing Diaz spent much of last season in Triple-A and was a candidate to secure a late-innings role with the Rockies this year.

The 24-year-old says he will likely have surgery in a couple weeks to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Rehab usually takes a year or more.


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     The article said:

01. "Jairo Diaz felt something in his pitching arm pitching to the last couple of hitters during Saturday's game."
02. "Mr. Diaz struggled with his control."
03. "Mr. Diaz needs Tommy John elbow surgery and will be sidelined for the 2016 season."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0170.  Marlins' Capps to have Tommy John surgery
MLB.com
March 08, 2016

JUPITER, FL: The most intimidating weapon in the Marlins' bullpen will not be available this season.

Carter Capps, one of the hardest throwers in baseball, has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and Tommy John surgery was scheduled for Tuesday. The procedure was to be performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

After missing most of the second half of last season with a strained elbow, Capps entered Spring Training without any throwing restrictions, and he was projected to compete with A.J. Ramos for the closer role.

"Obviously, Carter was coming off a pretty historic year last year," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "He finished the year on the disabled list. So it was a tough blow, but I think we have the men in the clubhouse to replace him."

Capps experienced discomfort in his elbow while warming up to face batters in live batting practice on Feb. 28. The next day he was examined by team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan. An MRI revealed the UCL tear. The right-hander sought a second opinion and he met with Andrews on Monday.

Capps, 25, emerged as a late-inning force in 2015, posting a 1.16 ERA while striking out 58 in 31 innings in a setup role. "It's definitely a loss," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, Carter last year was as dominant when he was in there as it gets. You're talking about him in a closer role, he and A.J. We were going to see where that went. We want to be talking about that. Again, it's a loss. We've got to move forward."

Relievers typically have a shorter recovery period from Tommy John surgery than do starters. The Marlins are hopeful Capps will be ready for Opening Day 2017.

"Generally with relievers it's not as long as the starter's rehab," Hill said. "So without having gotten the feedback from the procedure, you're hopeful that he gets it taken care of now, and he rehabs. And this time next year, he is ready to go."

Ramos is now expected to close, but the right-hander has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit League game due to a stiff right calf. He has been throwing off a mound and has pitched in a simulated game. Ramos could be ready to go later in the week.

Capps has dealt with elbow issues the past few seasons. His 2015 season was cut short after he exited a game on Aug. 2 due to a right elbow strain. In 2014, Capps appeared in 17 games and spent time on the disabled list.

With an unorthodox delivery in which he propels himself off the pitching rubber toward the plate, Capps was at times unhittable in 2015. His 16.8 strikeouts per nine innings was tops among all relievers, better than even Aroldis Chapman (15.7).

According to Statcast, Capps' average fastball velocity was 98.1 mph. The Baseball Savant website tracked 10 of his pitches at 100 mph or more in '15, the seventh most in the Majors. Had Capps stayed healthy, who knows how many times he would have eclipsed the century mark in velocity. He threw just 443 total pitches.

For perspective, St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal threw the sixth-most pitches at 100 mph or more, 13, reaching that total in 1,205 pitches.

The Marlins are open to making a trade for a late-inning reliever. They do have a number of internal hard-throwing right-handed setup candidates, such as Bryan Morris, Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington.

"I think it's an opportunity for guys," Mattingly said. "That's where we want to make sure we've got a number of guys we feel like have a chance at one point to be quality back-end guys. They may be guys two years from now that everybody looks at as some of the best in the game, and right now, people may not know their names."


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     The article said:

01. "Mr. Capps missed of the second half of last season with a strained elbow."
02. "Mr. Capps entered Spring Training without any throwing restrictions."
03. "Mr. Capps experienced discomfort in his elbow while warming up to face batters in live batting practice."
04. "The next day team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan examined Mr. Capps."
05. "An MRI revealed the UCL tear."
06. "Mr Capps sought a second opinion."
07. "The Marlins Medical Staff schedule Tommy John surgery for Tuesday."
08. "Dr. Andrews met with Mr. Capps."
09. "Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews is scheduled to perform the procedure."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0171.  Hernandez sidelined with sore elbow
Philadelphia Inquirer
March 08, 2016

CLEARWATER, FL: David Hernandez - who entered spring training as the favorite to leave here as the Phillies closer - is sidelined with soreness in his right elbow, manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday.

Hernandez has not pitched in a game since March 1. He was scheduled to pitch on Saturday, but was not used. Hernandez said on Sunday that he did not pitch because he wanted to take it slowly and get ready for the season.

“He has some issues with his elbow,” Mackanin said. “I don’t know what they are. Issues is the best way I can put it. I don’t know if it’s even serious or they’re just backing off on it.”

Hernandez, 30, missed the first half of last season because of  Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He pitched in 40 games last season with Arizona. The Phillies signed him in December to a one-year contract.

“I want to know exactly how far he’s been set back,” Mackanin said. “Obviously he’s been set back. I’m curious to find out how soon he can get back out there.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "David Hernandez is sidelined with soreness in his pitching elbow."
02. "Mr. Hernandez has not pitched in a game since March 01."
03. "On Sunday, Mr. Hernandez was not able pitch."
04. "Mr. Hernandez wanted to take it slowly."
05. "Mr. Hernandez missed the first half of last season rehabby from Tommy John surgery."
06. "Mr, Hernandez pitched in 40 games last season with Arizona."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0172.  X-rays clean on McFarland's throwing elbow
MLB.com
March 08, 2016

SARASOTA, FL: Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland's X-rays on his throwing elbow came back clean, and he could resume throwing by the end of the week.

"Very relieved," the lefty said of the test results. "Whenever you're dealing with something like that and you get a test and it comes back clean, it's a huge rush that comes over you. Definitely relieved that there's nothing seriously wrong."

McFarland exited Sunday's game against the Red Sox with some tenderness in his left elbow, which is something he hadn't experienced before. Manager Buck Showalter said the test revealed a little swelling in the area, but nothing serious.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "T.J. McFarland exited a game against with some tenderness in his pitching elbow."
02. "Mr. McFarland had a little swelling in the area."
03. "X-rays of T.J. McFarland's throwing elbow came back clean."

     To prevent tenderness in the pitching elbow, baseball pitchers have to contract the Pronator Teres muscle with every pitch that they throw.

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0173.  New study finds dramatic increase in young athletes undergoing Tommy John surgery
News-Medical.ney
March 08, 2016

A new study found a dramatic increase in the number of adolescents undergoing "Tommy John" surgery to repair a pitching-related elbow injury in recent years, outstripping growth among major league pitchers.

The study, performed by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), was published in the January online issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

"Everybody who follows baseball is worried about the rise in Tommy John procedures in the major leagues, and rightly so," said study leader Christopher S. Ahmad, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery at CUMC, head team physician for the New York Yankees and chief of sports medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. "But we should also be worried about the 6 million children and young adults in the US who play this game and are at risk for significant pitching-related injuries. We need to determine why these injuries are so common and what can be done to prevent them."

Tommy John surgery, named for the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who first had the procedure in 1974, involves replacing a torn or ruptured ligament in the elbow known as the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) with a tendon from another part of the body.

Analyzing data from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System, the researchers found that 444 patients underwent surgery to repair the UCL between 2002 and 2011. The median age of the patients, mostly male, was 21. During that period, the total volume of UCL surgeries increased nearly 200 percent, while the number of UCL reconstructions per 100,000 people tripled from 0.15 to 0.45. Almost all of the growth occurred in two age groups, 17- to 18-year-olds and 19- to 20-year-olds. Patients who are white and had private insurance were 25 times more likely to undergo UCL construction than blacks and Hispanics with government insurance.

Tommy John surgery has a high success rate, but full recovery can take a year or more. In many cases, UCL injuries can be treated effectively with rest, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. While the increase in UCL reconstructions among professional athletes has been well documented, few studies have looked at the incidence among younger, non-professional athletes.

While the study did not address reasons for the increase in UCL reconstructive surgery, Dr. Ahmad suspects a major factor is the fiercely competitive culture of youth baseball, which encourages talented players to throw more frequently, with greater intensity, and at a younger age. "Whatever the cause, we now know for certain that more kids are getting injured," he said. "We should be asking ourselves what we can do to prevent these injuries."

According to Dr. Ahmad and other experts in the field, the solution may be to provide more education about the risks of overuse throwing injuries and the importance of adherence to preventive guidelines, such as pitch-count limits.

In a previous study, Dr. Ahmad found that three-quarters of young players reported having arm pain while throwing, and almost half of all players had been encouraged at least once to continue playing despite having arm pain. Signs of injury include fatigue, pain, taking medicine for pain, and icing excessively.

"If a young player is hurting, he or she should not keep playing or pitching," said Dr. Ahmad.

"Kids, of course, think they're indestructible. Parents and coaches are in a position to tell athletes when it's time to give the arm a rest, and if they need to take a temporary break from baseball.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "According to Dr. Ahmad and other experts in the field, the solution may be to provide more education about the risks of overuse throwing injuries and the importance of adherence to preventive guidelines, such as pitch-count limits."
02. "In a previous study, Dr. Ahmad found that three-quarters of young players reported having arm pain while throwing, and almost half of all players had been encouraged at least once to continue playing despite having arm pain."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0174.  Danny Hultzen's sad shoulder
Today's Knuckleball
March 09, 2016

One afternoon, in the distant past, Danny Hultzen started my favorite baseball game of all time. On June 24, 2011, No. 1 Virginia faced No. 4 South Carolina in the College World Series, a de facto national semifinal.

Hultzen, weeks removed from being named the second pick in the draft, was pitted against South Carolina’s Michael Roth. Both marquee left-handers who occasionally played first base as well, Roth and Hultzen could not have been more different. Roth was a barrel-chested, floppy-limbed junkballer who survived by changing arm angles and speeds on developing hitters, but his upper-80s fastball limited his potential. Roth had just been drafted in the 31st round by the Indians—the going-pro-in-something-other-than-sports part of the draft.

Hultzen, by contrast, looked like a god. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, slim, tan and muscular, he was almost too on-the-nose as an elite pitching prospect. Weeks before, the Mariners had picked Hultzen second overall in one of the best drafts in modern history, behind Gerrit Cole but ahead of Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, Jose Fernandez and Henry Owens—plus a slew of position players that included Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor and George Springer.

That game ended on a throwing error in the 13th inning after Virginia loaded the bases in the 10th, 12th and 13th innings and failed to score each time, but the most amazing part of the game was Hultzen.

Hultzen pitched three scoreless innings, striking out the first six batters he faced, and allowing only one hit in the third before recording two more strikeouts and a popout.

Then he got sick and couldn’t pitch anymore, so after 40 pitches, he was done. If he hadn’t been sick, this wouldn’t have been the best baseball game ever, because South Carolina would never have gotten a runner in scoring position, much less come back from a 1-0 second-inning deficit that looked insurmountable.

That was the peak of Hultzen’s career, because while six players from that game, including Roth, have played in the big leagues so far, Hultzen—the best prospect among them by far—hasn’t.

Hultzen had shoulder surgery in 2013 to repair, well, everything: labrum, capsule, rotator cuff, the works. And while Tommy John surgery has a somewhat undeserved reputation for being routine maintenance at this point, a pitching shoulder is a completely different animal—it’s a torpedo below the waterline for a big league pitcher, particularly a starter.

That’s why, after missing all of 2014 and making only three starts in 2015, Hultzen was in Mariners camp trying to make the big leagues as a relief pitcher before his shoulder started barking again. Now, we’re once again faced with a familiar phrase: Danny Hultzen has been shut down.

It’s absolutely staggering how quickly we got used to this course of events, because Hultzen was not supposed to be that guy, and that makes Hultzen’s career arc particularly tragic.

In a draft full of stars that might burn out quickly, Hultzen was the reliable pitcher. In fact, the Mariners were derided in some circles for going with the safe choice in Hultzen instead of aiming higher and picking Bundy or Bauer. There’s a comforting idea that there’s safety in conservatism—Hultzen was a solid, nearly big league-ready college pitcher who’d held up under a full workload over three years at Virginia without being overworked.

He might not have held the top-of-the-rotation potential of some of the players picked after him, but there were no developmental concerns whatsoever surrounding him. He had the mound presence, the high-level experience, the pitchability, the low-90s velocity from the left side plus two breaking pitches to lean on. That’s the package.

It almost never occurred to anyone that he might break down, which made it all the more horrifying when he did.

The most discomfiting disasters happen in areas where we thought we were safe, and while Hultzen’s long absences from the game allowed us to compartmentalize and forget about him, now that he’s back, popping up periodically between shorter absences, it’s harder to forget the potential he held. While it’d be nice to see him make the major leagues in any capacity, watching him reduced to fringy relief work would turn Hultzen into a haunting figure, like the Ghost of Rotator Cuffs Past.

Better to remember him as he was on that Friday evening, resplendent in orange and white, chucking a hailstorm of unhittable sliders into the Omaha twilight.


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     The article said:

01. "Danny Hultzen had shoulder surgery in 2013."
02. "The orthopedic surgeons had to repair Mr. Hultzen's labrum, capsule, rotator cuff, the works."
03. "Tommy John surgery has an undeserved reputation for being routine maintenance."
04. "However, pitching shoulder surgery is a torpedo below the waterline for big league pitchers."
05. "Mr. Hultzen missed all of 2014 and made only three starts in 2015."
06. "Mr. Hultzen was in Mariners camp trying to make the big leagues as a relief pitcher."
07. "Mr. Hultzen's pitching shoulder started barking again."
08. "The Mariners Medical Staff shut Mr. Holtzen down.
09. "On that Friday evening, Mr. Holtzen chuckeding a hailstorm of unhittable sliders into the Omaha twilight."

     To prevent injury to the pitching shoulder, baseball pitchers have to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0175.  Throwing progression for beginners

I enjoy reading your stuff.

I have some kids basically shot putting the ball.

They lack (Er)? in the shoulder and basically just push.

Do you have a drill progression for very young kids that basically don't even have a basic concept of throwing?

Maybe you could make a video about that topic.

Some kids get it but others have a hard time learning it.


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     When youth baseball pitchers are biologically sixteen years old, they are able to throw six pound iron balls.

     When youth baseball pitchers are biologically thirteen years old, they are able to throw four pound balls.

     When youth baseball pitchers are chronologically ten years old, they are able to throw two pound balls.

     I prefer that youth baseball pitchers do not competitively pitch before they are biologically thirteen years old.

     I prefer that youth baseball pitchers master the skills before they competitively pitch in game situations.

     In my two and one-half Baseball Pitching Instructional Video, I teach baseball pitchers of all ages how to master the skills of my baseball pitching motion.

01. In the 08th section: Football Training Program, I teach baseball pitchers to 'horizontally sail' the square Lid off a four-gallon bucket.

     While 'horizontally sailing' teaches how to pronate the releases of curve balls and sliders, the pitching arm action works for all pitches.

     When you and your kids, I want the youth baseball pitchers to raise their pitching upper arm to vertically beside their head with their pitching forearm horizontally behind the pitching elbow pointing toward second base. I call this: my 'Slingshot' pitching arm position.

     The body position when youth baseball pitchers first throw the Lid, I want their rear foot on the pitching rubber and the front foot one full step in front of the rear foot. To execute the throw, I want my baseball pitchers to push off the pitching rubber and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

     After the youth baseball pitchers have mastered the No Glove Foot Step body action; Slingshot glove and pitching arm actions, these skilled baseball pitchers Lid throwers, I want these baseball pitchers to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

02. After the youth baseball pitchers have mastered the body action and the 'Slingshot' and 'Pendulum Swing' glove and pitching arm actions, I want the youth baseball pitchers to use an appropriately-sized football and use the tips of the football to master the spin axes for the four pitches that I teach.

     My Football Training Program shows how the spin axes of the four pitches need to rotate.

     Make sure that, when the youth baseball pitchers apply force to the Lid and footballs, they rotate their body such that the pitching arm side of the body faces toward home plate. I call this action, 'driving down the acromial line.' They should draw an make-believe line between the two ends of the acromions.

     When the youth baseball pitchers master these skills, we can learn how to grip, drive and release baseballs.

     It would be to the benefit of the baseball coaches and youth baseball pitchers to watch all of the eleven sections in my Baseball Pitching Instructional Video.

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     On Sunday, March 20, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

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0176.  Throwing progression for beginners

Thanks for your suggestions.

I have watched your videos, but I'm not referring to pitching but general infield and outfield throwing mechanics.

Let's say I have a group of 7 year old tee ballers that can't throw at all.

1. How do I start them?

2. Would it make sense to start them throwing from the slingshot position?

Kids at that age usually can't do complicated drills.

I agree with not starting pitching too early, but you need to be able to throw to first base in tee ball and coach pitch too.


Regards dominik -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

01. They need to stand tall and raise the pitching upper arm to vertically beside their head with their pitching elbow as high as possible with the pitching forearm horizontal pointing at home plate.

02. To throw, they push back with their pitching foot and stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

     I would start seven year olds the same way that anybody is throwing baseball for the first time.

     Get out the Lid and use my No Glove Foot Step body action; Slingshot glove and pitching arm actions drill and have them throw into a net.

     Until they are able to throw with control, they should not throw to infielders or from the outfield.

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0177.  The fans and players are coming around to the facts of the terrible dangerous motions.

I think The Goose should start taking your in classroom instruction.

Let him exercise the Red Sox Policy for real.


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     All 'traditional' baseball pitching coaches need to take my classroom instruction.

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0178.  Market inefficiencies give small market Royals edge on rivals
Associated Press
March 09, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: The first thing that Dayton Moore does is to deflect credit to the players. Then he tries to pass it off to his scouts, who have dissected every one of those athletes in every way possible.

That’s just the way the general manager of the Kansas City Royals operates.

But when you ask those same players and scouts why the World Series champions have been so successful at finding the proverbial diamond in the rough — the low-risk, high-reward reclamation project that has become a staple of their championship teams — their first instinct is to give Moore all the credit.

“You look at Dayton and the way he embraces the players once you get here, it’s not like you’re just the guy to make up the numbers,” said pitcher Peter Moylan, who is trying to rebound from his second Tommy John surgery and make Kansas City’s stacked bullpen as another powerful arm.

“He really shows you that he wants you here and he’s going to give you every chance to prove that you still have something left,” Moylan said. “For me, that was a big reason why I came here.”

It’s also a big reason why the Royals have gone to back-to-back World Series.

Despite a rapidly rising payroll the past few years, the Royals will always be a small-market franchise strapped for cash. They can’t afford to win many bidding wars in free agency. So they instead search for market inefficiencies, niches in the game where they can gain ground on rival clubs.

One area where they’ve done that is giving players second chances.

The Royals realized the same amount of money that could land them a mediocre utility player on the open market could get them five or six guys trying to make a comeback. If just two of those fliers panned out, and perhaps one had a transcendent season, it would be a much better investment.

Last year was a prime example of it.

The Royals were the only team to offer 36-year-old Chris Young a contract in spring training, and signed reliever Ryan Madson despite having not pitched in the big leagues since 2011. Pitching out of the bullpen and rotation, Young went 11-6 with a 3.06 ERA, while Madson posted a career-best 2.13 ERA in 68 appearances.

Young cost $675,000. Madson cost $850,000.

Compare that to the Washington Nationals, who signed reliever Casey Janssen in free agency. They spent $5 million — more than three times the price of Young and Madson — to get a 4.95 ERA in 48 appearances.

“You go into spring training and you know, from between now and the end of spring training, you’ll have one, maybe two nice surprises,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Last year we had a number of them. We had Joe Blanton, Madson and Young. We had a bunch of guys surprise you.”

Every team takes fliers, of course. What sets the Royals apart is in choosing the right guys on which to gamble. Often they are players with track records of success who have run into some kind of trouble.

Sometimes it’s an injury, such as Moylan’s elbow. Other times it’s a mechanical flaw.

“Ned and the coaching staff embrace the players we bring into the organization,” Moore explained. “They trust in the opinions of our scouts, and then the (current) players’ attitudes and mindset is everyone is in this together, so they bring guys in. Everybody gets some credit for the turnaround in their careers.”

To be clear, it doesn’t always work out. For every Young or Madson there are a half-dozen players that Kansas City jettisons in spring training. But it’s a numbers game, and that’s evidenced by the number of those same players getting another crack at the roster this season.

Moylan is one of them. So is former Mets starter Dillon Gee, ex-Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang, former Braves starter Mike Minor and veteran big-league pitchers John Lannan, Ross Ohlendorf and David Huff.

There are position players, too. Dressing near the clubhouse door is infielder Clint Barmes, who’s spent 13 years in the big leagues, and across the way is former Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider.

Each of them is hoping to be the next Royal reclamation.

“Why did it work out for me? I think it’s a big part the guys in the clubhouse,” said Young, who appreciated the opportunity afforded him by the Royals so much that he hardly considered the other offers he got this past season. “It’s just a special group of people.”


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     The article said:

01. "To be clear, it doesn’t always work out."
02. "For every Young or Madson there are a half-dozen players that Kansas City jettisons in spring training."
03. "But it’s a numbers game, and that’s evidenced by the number of those same players getting another crack at the roster this season."

     For every Young and Madson, the Royals 'Jettison' a half-dozen players in spring training.

     This means that whatever skills these baseball pitchers have may or may not be sufficient to make the team.

     If the Royals were to spent four months teaching and training these baseball pitchers before spring training, then they invested something to these guys.

     As it is, they are taking without helping these guys.

     Shame on Dayton Moore.

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0179.  Lorenzen scratched due to elbow tenderness
Cincinnati Enquirer
March 09, 2016

GOODYEAR, AZ: The health of two Cincinnati Reds pitching prospects veered the wrong direction recently, as right-hander Michael Lorenzen was scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start with elbow tenderness and left-hander John Lamb regressed to throwing off flat ground. Neither is considered a serious issue, though.

Lorenzen was set to face the Texas Rangers at Goodyear Ballpark but complained of elbow soreness on Tuesday, a day after he threw a bullpen session. The 24-year-old saw team physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek and had an ultrasound scan, but no MRI was performed.

The Reds' plan for Lorenzen to start throwing again after a couple days of rest.

"Shoot, if this was a playoff game he’s probably out there pitching without any question," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "But it’s not.”

Lamb had been working back from offseason back surgery, and threw a 30-pitch bullpen session as recently as March 4. He was scheduled for another one Monday, but instead the team decided to pull him off the mound in order to work on his lower-body strength.

Lamb said he’ll take between a couple days to a week to work purely on strength. The 25-year-old wasn’t expected to be ready by Opening Day anyway.

“I'm not trying to get too far ahead of myself,” Lamb said. “As I've said in the past, I feel good right now, I feel stronger and stronger day-to-day. I'm just trying to stay in the moment.”


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     The article said:

01. "Michael Lorenzen complained of elbow soreness a day after he threw a bullpen session."
02. "Mr. Lorenzen saw team physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek and had an ultrasound scan."

     To prevent tenderness in the pitching elbow, baseball pitchers have to contract the Pronator Teres muscle with every pitch that they throw.

     The article said:

01. "John Lamb had been working back from offseason back surgery."
02. "Mr. Lamb threw a 30-pitch bullpen session."
03. "Mr.Lamb was scheduled for another one, but the team decided to work on his lower-body strength."

     To prevent lower back problems, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0180.  Pirates have 'pitcher whisperer' in Searage
MLB.com
March 09, 2016

BRADENTON, FL: Ray Searage stood in the middle of a black-and-gold circle, surrounded by Pirates pitchers and catchers before their first Spring Training workout.

"It's not my way or the highway. It's our way," he told them. "It's not about me. It's about us."

As Pittsburgh's pitching coach, Searage is the goateed face of what's becoming a world-renowned reclamation clinic. Every time the Pirates acquire a new pitcher, no matter his ERA or injury history, there's a familiar refrain among the Pirates faithful: "Ray will fix him."

He's earned the benefit of the doubt. A.J. Burnett? Fixed him. Francisco Liriano? Fixed him, too. Edinson Volquez? J.A. Happ? With the Pirates, they were as good as they've ever been. And those are just a few starting pitchers, not even accounting for the relievers who have revived their careers in Pittsburgh.

Searage has been called a master mechanic, a pitcher whisperer. Granted, every coach looks like a genius when his pitchers do well. But Searage's reputation has risen to another level over the past few years, and he loves the challenge.

"I have an opportunity to help somebody out, to resurrect a career, to get them back on track?" Searage said. "Man, I'm going for it. I'm going to have fun."

This offseason, the Pirates brought in a handful of pitchers looking to rebound from injuries or poor performances. They've run into different problems: bad habits, nagging medical issues, mechanical flaws. But their stories all reach a similar conclusion.

They heard Pittsburgh is the right place, and Searage is the right man, to help them.

"Everybody said the same thing," left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty said. "They say he's amazing."

Why is that? In both preparation and practice, to use his words, "It's not about me. It's about us."

Preparation: "Strength in numbers"

The Pirates drafted and developed an ace, Gerrit Cole, and their Minor League system will graduate more starters over the next few years. That is a necessity for any low-payroll team, because pitching does not come cheap.

As a free agent this winter, Happ spun 10 outstanding starts with the Pirates and an otherwise average career track record into a three-year, $36 million contract with the Blue Jays. And it's not easy to trade for reliable pitching without gutting your farm system, either.

So rather than diving too deep into either the trade or free-agency market, the Pirates succeed on the margins. It's one reason they have outperformed their preseason projections the last three years and expect to do so again this season.

If it ain't broke, Ray can fix it. And the Pirates believe their pitchers aren't broken beyond repair.

"We're not an 18-car garage where we're trying to rebuild a bunch of engines and do some body work," general manager Neal Huntington said. "In each one of those cases, we believe there are strong indicators that they would have better seasons in '16 than '15."

But Searage does not do it alone. Ask him who else deserves credit for the Pirates' success with so-called reclamation projects, and he'll rattle off a long list of pitching coaches, coordinators and special assistants. First and foremost is bullpen coach Euclides Rojas.

"My right-hand man," Searage said. "He's the best. We breathe and live together on pitchers."

It starts with the Pirates' front office, the scouts and analysts who find the right pitchers. Perhaps they notice a fixable flaw in one's delivery, bad pitch sequencing from another or someone who will benefit from the Pirates' focus on defense and pitch-framing.

Then it falls on Huntington to sign or trade for them and the Pirates' strength and conditioning staff to get (or keep) them healthy. With relievers, Huntington knows he can count on manager Clint Hurdle to make sure they're rested but still sharp.

"It is a tremendous group effort," Huntington said. "Ray is on the front line of it."

That was clear the day left-hander Jeff Locke went to work on the bullpen mound between back fields at the Pirate City training complex. Locke ran through the motions of his new wind-up delivery with a half-dozen coaches -- Searage among them -- watching closely.

Searage estimates he spends at least two hours a day watching video, provided by team video coordinator Kevin Roach, and digging through information provided by analysts Dan Fox and Mike Fitzgerald. He'll reach out to assistant general manager Kyle Stark or one of the other pitching coaches in the Pirates' organization.

"We're all in this together. It's not Ray this or that. No, it's the Pirate way," Searage said. "That's why there's strength in numbers. If you surround yourself with good people that have an idea about pitching, you can grab a little bit here and a little bit there. Before you know it, you're like, 'Wow, I'm loaded to help this guy out.'"

Then his work begins.

Practice: "Don't be scared, because we're a family"

In the offseason, Searage's phone buzzes endlessly with text messages and emails as his pitchers update him on their offseason throwing programs. Before one series begins, Locke said, Searage is preparing for the next one.

The way Searage puts it, the Pirates' pitching philosophy sounds simple: "First-pitch strikes, having an aggressive mentality, control the running game, pitch in, stay aggressive out there and compete." But his challenge -- and one of his gifts -- is getting 12 or more pitchers on the same page despite their different styles and personalities.

"He views the pitcher and then he figures out a way to correct him individually. Not saying, 'OK, well we have this philosophy, so every pitcher needs to throw that way.' No, it doesn't work for everybody," catcher Chris Stewart said. "We have our philosophies, but he has his mental and physical adjustments that he can make with guys. That's what's made him so successful."

Pitchers' ERAs have decreased under Ray Searage's tutelage in Pittsburgh.

Searage tries to whittle all the information down to one or two suggestions for each pitcher, simplifying things for their sake. But the best thing he does for his pitchers, they say, is nothing at all.

"He told me to just go out there and do whatever I do," added Liriano, who was named 2013 Comeback Player of the Year in his first season with the Pirates. "Just get people out. Don't think about mechanics."

That's part of a hands-off, feeling-out period Searage goes through whenever he starts working with a pitcher. Rather than overwhelming them with information and immediately overhauling their mechanics, he lets them get comfortable.

"Let him throw. Let them be themselves," Searage said. "Then always have that in your back pocket, your nugget or two nuggets. When they do come to you and they go, 'I can't figure this out. What do you got?' Boom, this is what I've got."

He went through the same process with reliever Arquimedes Caminero, who came to the Pirates last offseason with a high-octane fastball and a career full of control problems.

"The biggest thing for me was the comfort that they gave me," said Caminero, who posted a 3.62 ERA last season. "They were like, 'Just go out there and pitch, feel comfortable. Don't be scared, because we're a family.'"

A 22nd-round Draft pick by the Cardinals in 1976, Searage pitched seven years in the Majors and 17 in the Minors. He competed for a job in big league camp. He was offered different suggestions from myriad pitching coaches.

"It's always been about what's best for you, the player," left-hander Jeff Locke said. "It's not about making his job easier. It's not about taking credit for anyone's success. Ray's all about you. He's 100 percent invested in you."

"The thing I say about him most is the way he cares for everybody," added Happ. "You feel really good about having that kind of guy behind you."

Word gets around in baseball, reaching players like O'Flaherty and Cory Luebke. So the Pirates keep bringing in pitchers in need of repair, and Searage keeps helping them. Some, like Liriano, have stayed. Others, like Happ and Volquez, have turned their success with the Pirates into a lucrative deal elsewhere.

But that's fine with Searage. After all, it's not about him.

"I'm very happy for all of them," Searage said. "They're not here for me. I'm here for them."


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     The article said:

01. "As Pittsburgh's pitching coach, Ray Searage is the goateed face of what's becoming a world-renowned reclamation clinic."
02. "Every time the Pirates acquire a new pitcher, no matter his ERA or injury history, there's a familiar refrain among the Pirates faithful: "Ray will fix him."
03. "He's earned the benefit of the doubt."
04. "A.J. Burnett? Fixed him."
05. "Francisco Liriano? Fixed him, too."
06. "Edinson Volquez?"
07. "J.A. Happ?"
08. "With the Pirates, they were as good as they've ever been."
09. "And those are just a few starting pitchers, not even accounting for the relievers who have revived their careers in Pittsburgh."
10. "Mr. Searage has been called a master mechanic, a pitcher whisperer."
11. "Granted, every coach looks like a genius when his pitchers do well."
12. "But Searage's reputation has risen to another level over the past few years, and he loves the challenge."
13. "In the off-season, Searage's phone buzzes endlessly with text messages and emails as his pitchers update him on their offseason throwing programs."
14. "Before one series begins, Locke said, Searage is preparing for the next one."
15. "That's part of a hands-off, feeling-out period Searage goes through whenever he starts working with a pitcher."
16. "Rather than overwhelming them with information and immediately overhauling their mechanics, he lets them get comfortable."

     Mr. Searage does not know the difference between the Pectoralis Major muscle and the Latissimus Dorsi muscle.

     Instead, Mr. Searage makes his baseball pitchers comfortable.

     During the off-season, Mr. Searage has his baseball pitchers do Mr. Searage's throwing programs.

     Mr. Searage allows his baseball pitchers throw however they feel comfortable.

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0181.  Parker injured after one pitch
San Jose Mercury News
March 10, 2016

MESA, AZ: Starter Jarrod Parker, who'd hoped he was on the road back to a spot on the A's opening day roster, walked off the field in pain Thursday after throwing one pitch of what was supposed to be a 20-pitch session against live hitters.

Parker, who has been bedeviled by injuries the last two seasons, has not pitched in the big leagues since 2013 following his second Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right arm and a subsequent fractured elbow suffered when he was trying to come back to the club last year.

The first pitch elicited a cry of pain from Parker, who quickly huddled with trainers as A's players, coaches and manager Bob Melvin all went quiet with the suddenness of the turn of fortune for the 27-year-old right-handed starter who was one of the A's best pitchers until struck down by injuries.

"It's not something we were going to push,'' Melvin said. ``As soon as he felt something, that was it."

There was no immediate indication what the problem might be or its level of severity, although pitching coach Curt Young said he didn't believe it would be too serious and one other coach said ``let's cross our fingers."

The A's would like to believe it's not serious, because the well-liked Parker, whether in the rotation or, more likely, ultimately in the bullpen, would be a good veteran force for Oakland in 2016 and because he deserves some good luck after so many health problems.


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     The article said:

01. "The first pitch elicited a cry of pain from Parker."
02. "Jarrod Parker walked off the field in pain after throwing one pitch."
03. "Mr. Parker has not pitched in the big leagues since 2013."
04. "Mr. Parker has had two Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgeries,"
05. "Mr. Parker fractured his pitching elbow."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

     To prevent fracturing their pitching elbow, baseball pitchers need to release their breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger.

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0182.  Weaver has precautionary MRI on neck
MLB.com
March 10, 2016

TEMPE, AZ: Angels starter Jered Weaver arrived to camp on Thursday morning with tightness in his neck and was sent for a precautionary MRI exam, general manager Billy Eppler said.

Weaver struggled mightily the previous day in a 13-13 tie with the Dodgers, serving up three home runs, recording only eight outs and topping out at 81 mph with his fastball.

The Angels' rotation depth has already been tested this spring. Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and C.J. Wilson (left shoulder tendinitis) project to begin the season on the disabled list, Andrew Heaney had his first start skipped due to illness, and Matt Shoemaker has given up four home runs in five innings.


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     The article said:

01. "Jered Weaver has tightness in his neck."
02. "Mr. Weaver served up three home runs, recorded only eight outs and topped out at 81 mph."

     To prevent injuries to the neck, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

     To maximum release velocity and consistency, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and apply all force to the baseball in front of the glove foot.

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0183.  Syndergaard doing all he can to avoid elbow injury
MLB.com
March 10, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL: The thought first wormed its way into Matt Harvey's mind at the University of North Carolina, because that's where he saw the epidemic up close. When two of Harvey's Tar Heel teammates tore the ulnar collateral ligaments in their elbows, they struggled to recover from the resulting Tommy John surgeries.

Harvey began thinking about surgery, too.

"There were definitely a few times when I looked at my arm and said, 'I don't want to have a scar,'" he recalled.

As a hard-throwing pitcher placing daily stress on his elbow, Harvey found it difficult to wipe the thought from his brain. It lodged there as he climbed through the Mets' system and watched others in the organization -- including then-prospect Jacob deGrom -- undergo the procedure. It remained there until the summer of 2013, when Harvey's own UCL snapped, forcing him to the operating table.

The unavoidable scar now snakes up Harvey's elbow, plain to see at a far bank of Spring Training lockers. Three of the four starting pitchers who neighbor Harvey there -- deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz -- have also undergone Tommy John surgeries. The fourth, Noah Syndergaard, will make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday amid soaring expectations -- a 6-foot-6 flamethrower primed to join the game's elite.

Seemingly only one thing can hold him back.

"I've thought about it quite a bit," Syndergaard said. "But I trust myself to put my body in the right situations to be able to perform at a healthy level."

Though the causes of UCL tears remain largely unquantifiable, Syndergaard advertises many of the risk factors. He throws harder than all but a handful of pitchers in baseball history, topping out at 101 mph. He is young -- just 23 -- and coming off a season in which he amassed 65 2/3 more innings than the year before. He has spent his early days in Florida working on a slider, a pitch that typically places extreme stress on the elbow.

Understanding all that, Syndergaard prides himself on proper nutrition, strength and conditioning techniques. The Mets, in turn, have maintained strict care of Syndergaard since the day they traded for him, limiting his innings increases to 14 and 13 percent -- quite conservative numbers -- his first two seasons. Pitching coach Dan Warthen fusses over Syndergaard's mechanics. Even last year, when postseason play shot his workload 49 percent higher, the Mets took measures to dampen his innings.

"I don't lose sleep over it," is how Syndergaard responds to a question about elbow fragility, but that doesn't keep the issue from populating his mind. How could it, with reminders scarred into the arms he sees every day?

"You're always optimistic that these things will be avoided," general manager Sandy Alderson said, "but it's fairly commonplace."

Starting pitchers from 2015, minimum 2,000 pitches thrown.

Take Harvey, for example, another large-bodied pitcher with a tireless work ethic and textbook mechanics. After Harvey reached the big leagues, his worries about surgery did eventually start to ease. But all it took was one twinge for those old fears to resurface.

"I think now, there are things I could have done better in high school or in college to maybe prevent it," Harvey said. "But I don't know. I'm not saying [Noah] works that much harder than everybody else, because we all work hard. I think as time progresses, guys pay more attention to stretching the shoulder, strengthening the shoulder. If I could go back -- I don't know if this would have prevented me from having [surgery], but if I could go back and really do 20 extra minutes every day of stretching or arm care, you never know what could happen."

Though the Mets have endured a rash of high-profile Tommy John surgeries in recent years, including two on their big league staff last March, Alderson said he doesn't consider his team unique in that regard. Velocity readings around the game have never been higher, adding stress to elbows that are popping at alarming rates. In baseball circles, it's no longer news; teams such as the Mets have studied the phenomenon independently and are using that data to fine-tune care of their pitchers. But right now, the application is limited mostly to babysitting workloads.

"I figured eventually, it would happen," admitted Wheeler, whose UCL tore last March. "I was hoping it wouldn't. … But it's a part of your job. Your arm's going to hurt."

Even now, with a fresh elbow tendon growing stronger by the day, Wheeler fears another tear. He will for the rest of his career, just as Syndergaard knows he will be always be at risk.

All he can do is lean on a work ethic that he calls "second to none" and hope his lottery number never gets called.

"Anything can happen," Syndergaard said. "You try to prevent it as much as possible, but at the same time you're not always in control. Some guys go through their entire careers without having any problems."

He looked up. "Hopefully, I will be one of those guys."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Matt Harvey found it difficult to wipe the thought from his brain."
02. "It lodged there as he climbed through the Mets' system and watched others in the organization."
03. "Jacob deGrom had the procedure."
04. "It remained there until the summer of 2013, when Harvey's own UCL snapped."
05. "Understanding all that, Syndergaard prides himself on proper nutrition, strength and conditioning techniques."
06. "The Mets have maintained strict care of Syndergaard."
07. "They limited his innings increases to 14 and 13 percent for his first two seasons."
08. "Guys pay more attention to stretching the shoulder, strengthening the shoulder."
09. "Would stretching prevented having [surgery]."
10. "Would an 20 extra minutes every day of stretching prevent UCL injury?"

     Stretching will not prevent injury to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0184.  Greetings

I trust all is well.

If the idea of a book holds any promise, I would be willing to fly down (on my nickel) to explore it in person with you, on a no obligation basis.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        My mission statement is teaching an injury-free baseball pitching motion that maximizes release velocity and consistency.

        I welcome your interest.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0185.  Greetings

Love your mission and purpose. I can wrap my arms around that anchor.

With high schoolers and even younger players getting and/or asking for Tommy John surgery in increasing numbers, a book with this mission can be a vehicle to shed light on this alternative method of injury-free pitching success.

I'm interested in continuing the pursuit of an arrangement with you, step by step.

Been doing some homework, research, and reading on my end. I'll follow-up with some more specific findings, recommendations, and questions.

Certainly you could have your pick of the litter to partner with, from John Feinstein to Michael Lewis to others.

Having my one year of exposure to your work and dedication, and the perspective of time and experience, I have a fond appreciation and respect for your approach.

That said, I believe there is great value in memorializing your legacy, and sharing the fruitage of your mission for the next generation of players.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     As I said, I welcome your interest.

     I will help you in any way that I am able.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0186.  After MRI is fine, McCullers to rest a bit
MLB.com
March 12, 2016

KISSIMMEE, FL: Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was able to breathe a sigh of relief Friday when an MRI performed on his sore right shoulder showed no structural damage, he said. The pitcher said Saturday he's going to take a few days to rest before getting back on the mound.

"It's good news to hear that it's normal soreness and he's going to be on the mend," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It certainly is a sigh of relief."

McCullers, who's been on an individualized throwing program this spring and has yet to pitch in a game, threw live batting practice March 3 and said he felt "in midseason form." He threw again Sunday and felt great, but the shoulder was sore Monday.

"I didn't really bound back as quickly as we were hoping really, just dealing with some right shoulder soreness that's been kind of lingering," said McCullers, who saw a doctor Friday. "Everything's fine."

McCullers, 22, said he plans to take a couple of days of rest and recovery, but said there's no timetable as far as getting on the mound. He said it was too early to determine if he would be ready for the start of the season, but considering he would have to get his pitch count built up, he could be facing a tight timeframe.

"Right now, I'm just focused on trying to get back to where I was last week when I threw my [live BP], and I can't really worry about that and want to start the season with the club, obviously," he said. "That's the 100 percent goal right now, but like I've discussed, 150 games are more important than those first one or two if it comes to that."

Hinch said some pitchers need seven or eight spring outings to get ready for the season, and some need three of four. It's based on their strength and readiness when they come to camp.

"Obviously, we're getting towards the middle of the spring, and the next three weeks are very critical," he said. "We'll find out based on how the program is adjusted and we'll talk to our medical group and Lance and [pitching coach Brent Strom] and come up with a game plan. The key is to get him clear of any sort of soreness."

McCullers (6-7, 3.22 ERA in 2015) threw 164 combined innings last year between the Minor Leagues and the Astros after only 97 the previous year. The Astros planned to bring him along more slowly than the rest of the pitchers to monitor his workload.

He's locked in as the Astros' third starter entering the season, but the club has pitching depth. Scott Feldman, Mike Fiers and Doug Fister are battling for the final two spots, so the team has options if it decides it wants to bring McCullers along slowly.

"We have the same guys that are the candidates up for the rotation that were before, the same depth we've had before," Hinch said. "There is no change in the names or the numbers. His throwing program has been altered and pushed back a couple of days."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Lance McCullers Jr. was able to breathe a sigh of relief Friday when an MRI performed on his sore right shoulder showed no structural damage."
02. "Mr. McCullers is going to take a few days to rest before getting back on the mound."
03. "Mr. McCullers has on an individualized throwing program."
04. Mr. McCullers threw live batting practice and felt "in midseason form."
05. "Mr. McCullers threw again and felt great."
06. "But, Mr. McCullers'e shoulder was sore the next day."

     I would like to know what 'individualized' throwing program Mr. McCullers uses.      To have soreness in the pitching shoulders, the baseball pitchers have to involuntarily moved their pitching upper arm behind the acromial line and rotates their hips and shoulders forward separately over their pitching foot.

     To prevent soreness in their pitching shoulder, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0187.  Bumgarner to miss 1-2 starts with two ailments
MLB.com
March 13, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: The Giants’ injury story this spring has been death by a thousand paper cuts, which is probably better than one or two big blows. The latest to be stung by seemingly minor injuries is one of the top names on the team, Madison Bumgarner.

The left-hander will miss one or two starts with two ailments, neither of which he believes will prevent him from his scheduled Opening Day start in Milwaukee on April 4.

Bumgarner revealed he has dealt since the offseason with a nerve injury, or neuroma, between the third and fourth joints on the bottom of his left foot, which causes intermittent and considerable pain.

The second injury, which occurred recently, is discomfort in his right rib cage just below his chest.

Bumgarner has pitched through the foot injury this spring. He first felt the rib-cage pain while swinging a bat in the cage late last week and had an MRI exam that ruled out a dreaded oblique strain.

“They’re two things that aren’t a big deal,” Bumgarner said before Sunday’s game against the Padres, which he was supposed to start. “There’s no sense making them a big deal. So we’re going to skip a start or two just to be safe.”

Once the staff decided to pull Bumgarner from the rotation, he got a cortisone shot in the foot to calm that injury. The 26-year-old said the medical staff already had been “making progress” with it.

As for the rib-cage injury, Bumgarner said, “I feel like it’s going to get batter really quickly.”

In fact, Bumgarner played catch Saturday despite the injuries and plans to do so again in a day or two.

Bumgarner said this would be a “different story” in the regular season and he would pitch. In spring training, it’s not as important.

“It’s not anything too serious,” he said. “We just don’t want it to turn into anything too serious by making spring training starts.”

Bumgarner has appeared twice in the Cactus League and has raised his pitch count into the 50s. If he misses two starts, he still would have two more to get his pitch count into the 80s, the end-of-spring goal for every starter.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Since the off-season, Madison Bumgarner has had a nerve injury, or neuroma that causes intermittent and considerable pain."
02. "This pain appears between the third and fourth joints on the bottom of his left (pitching) foot."
03. "The second injury, Mr. Bumgarner developed is discomfort in his right (glove side) rib cage just below his chest."
04. "Mr. Bumgarner has pitched through the foot injury this spring."
05. "Mr. Bumgarner first felt the rib-cage pain while swinging a bat."
06. "A MRI exam ruled out the dreaded Oblique Internus Abdominis strain."

     To prevent the dreaded Oblique Internus Abdominis muscle strain, baseball pitchers need to rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

     Eventually, Mr. Bumgarner will suffer severe pain in the front of his pitching shoulder.

     To prevent severe pain in the front of the pitching shoulder, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0188.  Wilson out indefinitely with shoulder issue
Los Angeles Times
March 14, 2016

C.J. Wilson said his surgically repaired throwing elbow feels "great," but the adjustments he made to compensate for the injury have led to a shoulder problem that could knock the Angels left-hander out for the first month of this season, maybe more.

Wilson, diagnosed with shoulder inflammation early in camp, suffered another setback in a bullpen session Saturday and will be relegated to catch and long toss. No date has been set for a return to the mound.

"When you have stuff going wrong in your shoulder, there's only two ways to fix it — you either rehab or you have surgery," Wilson said. "We're obviously rehabbing it because I'm going to pitch. … But it doesn't do me or the team any good to pitch if I'm not going to be effective."

Wilson hasn't pitched in an exhibition game or faced hitters this spring. Once he returns to a mound, he will need at least four weeks to build up the stamina to throw 90-100 pitches in a game, a process that could push his return to late April or May.

Wilson, 35, said he is taking "massive amounts" of anti-inflammatory medication, undergoing physical therapy and treatment and studying video to pinpoint the mechanical flaws that are putting stress on his shoulder.

Wilson, who went 8-8 with a 3.89 earned-run average in 21 starts before being shut down in August because of bone spurs in his elbow, said he is "not going to get into a game any time soon."

Having had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2003 and three operations to remove bone spurs in his elbow, Wilson won't rush his return.

"I don't really care how long it takes to get back to the level I want to get back to," said Wilson, who is in the final year of a five-year, $77.5-million deal that will pay him $20 million this season. "If it takes an extra three or four weeks, it's better than going out there, being substandard and getting my head knocked off.

"I'm not trying to be selfish about it. It's not an ego thing at all. The team deserves to have the best version of me possible, and all I'm trying to do is be that guy."

The Angels entered camp with eight major league-ready starters, but that depth has thinned considerably, with Tyler Skaggsand Jered Weaver likely to open the season on the disabled list.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "C.J. Wilson's surgically repaired throwing elbow feels "great."
02. "But. the adjustments Mr. Wilson's has made led to a shoulder problem."
03. "Early in camp, Mr. Wilson suffered another setback in a bullpen session."
04. "Mr. Wilson takes "massive amounts" of anti-inflammatory medication."
05. "In 2003, Mr. Wilson had reconstructive elbow surgery.
06. "Later, Mr. Wilson has had three operations to remove bone spurs in his elbow."

     To prevent bone spurs in the pitching elbow, baseball pitchers have to release their breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of the Middle finger.

     To prevent pain in the front of the pitching shoulder, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0189.  Soto's odd throwing motion due to tender knees
MLB.com
March 14, 2016

TEMPE, AZ: The left knee buckles to the ground, the right knee collapses after it and then Geovany Soto's entire body rocks forward, at which point he releases the baseball, follows through all the way to the ground, swipes the dirt with the palm of his right hand and wipes the excess clay off his pant leg, all in one fluid motion.

Soto, entering his 12th season as a Major League catcher and his first with the Angels, has long been mystifying observers with his distinctive approach toward lobbing baseballs back to pitchers. He's been doing it this way for the last year or so, more than 100 times each and every game. Some have wondered if he has the yips.

"Not really," Soto said. "I don't think so."

There's actually a little more functionality involved than one might think.

It mostly stems from tender knees. Soto began to fall into the habit following May 2012 surgery on his left knee, while he was with the Cubs, and it became more prevalent after having his right knee repaired in March 2014, as a member of the Rangers. Alternating knees kept each from absorbing the brunt of the pressure, falling forward a means to throwing the ball accurately.

"That's why I fell into the habit of doing it," Soto said. "I don't want to put all the pressure of the throw on any one knee, so I just take the pressure off them."

As for swiping the dirt?

"I never use sunglasses because I just sweat so much that sometimes I'm just dripping sweat," Soto said. "Dripping sweat. Sometimes you have to get a grip and it's just not there. It's like a rosin bag for me."

Soto doesn't apply his unusual technique during bullpen sessions, he said, because he doesn't have to worry about framing pitches, an exercise that puts more strain on one's lower half.

The 33-year-old has little problem throwing to bases, as evidenced by his 27.4 percent caught-stealing rate since 2008 (fourth best in the Majors in that span). And Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he isn't worried about baserunners taking advantage of Soto's motion with a delayed steal.

"It's just one of those things, but I feel comfortable," Soto said.

"It's a little bit different, but he gets it back to me," Angels starter Garrett Richards added. "That's pretty much the important part. Whatever works for him, I guess. As long as he's not throwing the ball over the infield."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     When base runenrs try to steal bases, catchers need to step forward with their glove foot before the baseball hits the catchers mitt such that they are able to pivot over their glove foot and throw down their acromial line.

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0190.  deGrom scratched with back stiffness
ESPN.com
March 14, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL:  New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom has been scratched from Monday's Grapefruit League start in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers with what the team described as back stiffness.

DeGrom is not alarmed. He instead threw an equivalent number of pitches off a mound back at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie on Monday morning.

"I think it's more precautionary," deGrom said. "I really didn't want to ride on the bus for a couple of hours and then go try to pitch. ... Today I feel good. Yesterday I felt good. I think it's just more not sitting on the bus for a couple of hours and then going out there and pitching."

DeGrom believes a soft mattress he had been using might have caused the back discomfort.  Matt Harvey recommended a more firm mattress to him, and deGrom had one shipped overnight last week to try to alleviate the issue.

"I had to switch something up, and that seemed to work," deGrom said.

DeGrom has appeared in one Grapefruit League game so far. He allowed one run on five hits while striking out two in three innings against the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

DeGrom also was slowed earlier in camp because of a tweak to a muscle in his upper left thigh.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Jacob deGrom has back stiffness."
02. "A soft mattress caused Mr. deGrome's back discomfort."

     To prevent back stiffness, baseball pitchers have to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0191.  Arrieta ready 'for another 250 innings'
MLB.com
March 14, 2016

MESA, AZ: Normally, leadoff walks are the bane of a pitcher's existence.

And a Cy Young Award winner? Those guys don't normally walk many leadoff men, especially not on four pitches.

So a few eyebrows were raised on Monday when Jake Arrieta missed the strike zone on four straight pitches to Derek Norris to start the second inning after working a perfect first against the Padres in the Cubs' 10-2 loss. They needn't have been.

Arrieta is a pitcher who always has a plan. After he faced only six Indians in his two-inning spring debut last Wednesday, his plan on Monday was to get some work pitching out of the stretch, even if he had to give the hitters a little help.

Although Arrieta didn't say he put Norris on base deliberately, he made it clear he didn't mind him being there.

"It was intentionally unintentional, I guess," Arrieta said. "A good situation to work on."

This is what this Spring Training has become for the guy who last season turned in what may be the most dominant second half in Major League history. It's an exercise to work on his mastery of the craft, not a battle to get ready for the Opening Night assignment that awaits him in Anaheim.

Arrieta had never thrown 180 innings in a pro season before carrying the Cubs to the National League Championship Series a year ago. He piled up 248 2/3 innings along the way -- 229 in the regular season and another 19 2/3 against the Pirates, Cardinals and Mets in the postseason.

How would Arrieta bounce back? Arguably, that's the biggest question facing the Cubs, who are widely regarded as baseball's strongest team after the offseason additions of Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey.

But Arrieta was satisfied that he would be just fine long before he arrived in Arizona for camp. He made that clear after the four-inning outing against the Padres, in which he gave up one run, on a high-sky double that easily could have been grabbed by left fielder Jorge Soler. Arrieta struck out five and walked two, and now has only three more outings before it counts, including one he'll make in a Minor League camp game next week.

"The juices start flowing once the season gets here," Arrieta said. "Arm strength is going to jump up a tick once the bright lights are on, which is the case for everybody. That's kind of the light at the end of the tunnel. That's what we're all looking for these next couple of weeks -- getting through it healthy, getting our pitchers built up as far as arm strength is concerned, getting our hitters some at-bats, then we'll be ready. Everybody is going about it the right way."

Arrieta did seem to hit a wall at the end of his magical 2015 season, giving up four runs to both the Cardinals and Mets after allowing only seven runs in his previous 13 starts. I asked him on Monday if he was curious how he'd feel back in game action this spring.

"Not at all," Arrieta said. "I knew after a couple weeks without throwing, letting the body kind of recover, once I jumped into my training and started playing catch, it was back to normal."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon is blown away by how consistently Arrieta has been repeating his delivery this spring. It's a little bit of a crossfire motion that finishes with his left leg landing farther on the third-base side of the mound than normal, and with most pitchers, that extra effort makes it tough to line up all the moving parts.

Arrieta has minimized issues with his mechanics since the Cubs acquired him from the Orioles in a 2013 trade, throwing strike after strike with his fastball to set up a slider that dives like a fighter plane. The credit, Maddon believes, belongs as much to conditioning techniques that Arrieta practices with fervor, including Pilates, as to his technique itself.

"You talk to everybody who watches him, [and they'll say] it's kind of freaky," Maddon said. "I don't think anybody else could do what he does. In terms of his flexibility, the ridiculous strength all over his body, how he takes care of himself, all of that stuff matters. He's got a little [throwing] across his body -- which you would never teach anybody -- but because of his prep work, being as flexible as he is, I think he can do it."

Among the tricks that allowed Arrieta to go 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA last season was saving his best velocity for the stretch run. According to BrooksBaseball.net, his fastball averaged 94.3 mph in April but was up to a season-high 95.6 mph in September.

Maddon wants to help Arrieta repeat that strong finish in 2016, with a little more shelf life for October. He vows to pull Arrieta from games quicker this season than he did a year ago.

"I would say we've already talked about this, [but] maybe the largest difference this season is the awareness that I may want to take him out sooner with a lead, just to try to build up more for the end of the year," Maddon said. "He's more aware what it's going to feel like when you're throwing 200-plus innings, with what's riding on the line, you want to be as fresh as you can."

The Cubs hope this includes a ride through the NLCS and into the World Series.

Count Arrieta in on that.

"The fatigue is just one of those things you can't necessarily account for," Arrieta said. "That innings jump was difficult. I had to just deal with it by going through some fatigue at the end. Now I've obviously bounced back. I'm in better shape than I've ever been in, and I'm ready for another 250 [innings]."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01, "Jake Arrieta has minimized issues with his mechanics."
02. "Mr. Arrieta throws strike after strike with his fastball to set up his slider."
03. "Mr. Arrieta's slider dives like a fighter plane."
04. "Cubs field manager, Joe Maddon believes Mr. Arrieta's fitness to conditioning techniques that Arrieta practices." 05. "Mr. Arrieta includes Pilates."
06. "Mr. Arrieta has a little bit of a crossfire motion."
07. "The extra crossfire effort makes it tough to line up all the moving parts."

     Mr. Arrieta pronates the releases of his curve ball.

     That Mr. Arrieta's slider dives downward means that Mr. Arrieta pronates the release of his slider.

     Mr. Arrieta's crossfire body movement causes Mr. Arrieta to pull his pitching arm across the front of his body which causes his curves to drift to the glove arm side of home plate.

     As a result, left-handed pull hitter will golf this cookie over the right field fence near the foul line.

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0192.  Parker slated for more tests on elbow
MLB.com
March 14, 2016

MESA, AZ: A's right-hander Jarrod Parker will meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning to undergo X-rays and a CT scan on his injured right elbow.

Parker refractured the medial epicondyle in his elbow last week, the same injury he suffered a year ago.

The 27-year-old pitcher has not pitched in a Major League game since 2013 due to injuries. In addition to the elbow fractures, Parker has also had Tommy John surgery twice.

After learning of his injury, the A's gave Parker some time to consult with his family and doctors and were not expecting him to return to camp until Monday. However, the right-hander stopped by the clubhouse Sunday and spent some time on the bench during the game.

"He wanted to be here yesterday and we didn't think we'd have him here yesterday," A's manager Bob Melvin said Monday. "I know he feels good around the group of guys and he seemed to be in good spirits yesterday. The guys were happy to see him." Parker's next step is still to be determined as both he and the club await the results of Tuesday's tests.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Jarrod Parker will meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache to undergo X-rays and a CT scan on his injured pitching elbow."
02. "Mr. Parker refractured the medial epicondyle in his elbow last week."
03. "Mr. Parker suffered the same injury a year ago."
04. "In addition to the elbow fractures, Parker has also had Tommy John surgery twice."
05. "Mr. Parker spent some time on the bench during the game."

     To fracture the medial epicondyle of the pitching elbow the orthopedic surgeon had to drill the holes too close the the edge of the medial side of the distal Humerus bone.      When surgeons drill holes, they weaken the bone density.      To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0193.  Banister tinkering with idea of 13-man staff
MLB.com
March 14, 2016

GOODYEAR, AZ: The Rangers are considering the possibility of going with a 13-man pitching staff, including eight relievers, to start the season. They normally go with five starters and seven relievers.

Adding an extra reliever would leave the Rangers with a three-man bench but they think they have enough versatility to cover all their backup needs. Utility infielder Hanser Alberto has shown he can handle all four infield positions, they've used outfielders Jusrin Ruggiano and Ryan Rua at first base and left-fielder Ian Desmond can play in the infield if needed.

The Rangers are considering the extra reliever to prevent early wear and tear on their bullpen. They have a power-laden bullpen but are light on multiple-inning options.

"With the structure of our position players, it allows us if we choose to have the extra man in the bullpen," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We have the option ... we're still looking at whether to go with 13, given the experience where we were last year. We got in a situation last year where we had to run a lot of young guys out of the bullpen early and it nicked us later on in the season."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "The Rangers are considering the extra reliever to prevent early wear and tear on their bullpen."
02. "They have a power-laden bullpen but are light on multiple-inning options."

     To be light on multiple-inning appearances, these baseball pitchers rely on adrenaline.

     Great closers keep calm and pitch the same no matter the situation.

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0194.  Kazmir's velocity is down, pitches are up, numbers are awful--but Dodgers aren't worried
Los Angeles Times
March 14, 2016

The scout shook his head, delivering a two-word report on Dodgers pitcher Scott Kazmir.

"No bueno," the scout said.

For the last two years, Kazmir's fastball has averaged 91 mph, according to Fangraphs. On Monday, his fastball sat in the 86-89 mph range. The last time his fastball was so slow, in 2011, the results were so bad that the Angels released him, and it took him two years to recover the arm strength necessary to return to the major leagues.

After Kazmir posted a 17.18 earned-run average in his first two Cactus League starts, with opponents batting .571, the Dodgers used him in the controlled environment of a B game against the Chicago White Sox on Monday.

In the first inning, three of the first four batters got hits, and the Dodgers ended the inning because Kazmir had thrown enough pitches. In the second, two of the first three batters got hits, and the Dodgers ended that inning too. In the third, Kazmir mostly abandoned his fastball, and he hit two batters on breaking pitches.

Kazmir worked two more innings, retiring the side in order in each.

"My arm feels great," Kazmir said.

He said he expects his velocity to increase as he builds arm strength for the season and wanted to focus on sharpening his mechanics.

"If I try to let it go too early, I find myself getting out of my delivery," he said.

Manager Dave Roberts said Kazmir did not command his fastball well. If that improves, Roberts said Kazmir could win, even at slow speed.

"If the ball is down, he can get guys out," Roberts said.

The Dodgers declined to match the Arizona Diamondbacks' six-year, $206-million offer to Zack Greinke, then agreed to a three-year, $45-million deal with Hisashi Iwakuma. They declined to finalize the deal because of medical concerns, opting to sign Kazmir to a three-year, $48-million contract.

Iwakuma signed with the Seattle Mariners. He has a 0.00 ERA this spring.

The Dodgers have four starting pitchers in various stages of recovery from surgery:Brett Anderson (back), Brandon McCarthy (elbow), Frankie Montas (rib) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder). Alex Wood, who was scratched from his last start because of forearm soreness, is expected to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "For the last two years, Kazmir's fastball has averaged 91 mph."
02. "On Monday, Mr. Kazmir's his fastball sat in the 86-89 mph range."
03. "In 2011, Kaxmir's fastball was so slow that the Angels released him."
04. "It took Mr. Kazmir two years to recover the arm strength necessary to return to the major leagues."
05. "In the first inning, three of the first four batters got hits."
06. "In the second, two of the first three batters got hits."
07. "In the third, Kazmir mostly abandoned his fastball, and he hit two batters on breaking pitches."
08. "Mr. Kazmir worked two more innings, retiring the side in order in each."
09. "Mr. Kazmirs said "My arm feels great."

     To maximize their release velocity, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0195.  Matzek leaves Rockies spring training to deal with performance anxiety
Denver Post
March 14, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Rockies left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek has left spring training to deal with personal issues tied to his ongoing struggles with performance anxiety.

"We are giving him a breather to take care of some personal things," manager Walt Weiss said Monday morning.

Weiss said there is no timetable for Matzek's return to camp, but added, "I don't think it's going to be all that long." Matzek was excused from camp on Sunday.

The talented left-hander's 2015 season ended abruptly because of control issues brought on by performance anxiety. He hoped to get a fresh start in spring training, but in the Rockies' first Cactus League game on March 2, Matzek struggled. He failed to record an out while giving up three runs on three hits, including a solo home run to lead off the fourth by Arizona's Welington Castro. Most disconcerting, Matzek walked two and had a wild pitch.

"I felt like some of pitches that got hit were decent," Matzek said. "There were just not enough of them."

Matzek, 25, said in December that  he was confronting his condition head on, confident he would fulfill the promise that prompted the Rockies to make him the 11th pick in the first round of the 2009 draft. He was determined to compete for a job in the Rockies' starting rotation.

"I look at it like this: Sure, I had a few bad months, but in the grand scheme of things it's not that big a deal," he said. "I don't think this is going to define me by any means."

Matzek finished the 2014 season strong, going 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his final six starts. He began the 2015 season 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA, but he gave up 19 walks and hit three batters in 22 innings before being sent to the minors.

Weiss said the Rockies still believe Matzek will contribute.

"That's the plan — it's how we look at it with everybody," Weiss said. "We've got to look at whatever the issues are and attack them. It's no different with Tyler."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Rockies field manager, Walt Weiss, said:

01. "We are giving him a breather to take care of some personal things."
02. "Mr. Matzek still will contribute."
03. "That's the plan."
04. "It's how we look at it with everybody."
05. "We've got to look at whatever the issues are and attack them."
06. "It's no different with Tyler."

     Rockies baseball pitcher, Tyler Matzek, said:

01. "I felt like some of pitches that got hit were decent."
02. "There were just not enough of them."
03. "I look at it like this."
04. "I had a few bad months."
05. "But in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a deal."
06. "I don't think this is going to define me by any means."

     The Rockies don't understand that baseball pitching should be fun, not attacking issues.

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0196.  Weaver frustrated with degenerative spine diagnosis
Los Angeles Daily News
March 15, 2016

TEMPE, AZ: Jered Weaver is frustrated.

It isn’t the bulging disk in his neck. The Angels pitcher said he’s dealt with neck pain for years.

Weaver’s frustration comes from the uncertainty of being diagnosed with mild degenerative changes in the cervical spine. After meeting with Dr. Robert Watkins in California on Monday, Weaver was back in the Angels’ spring training clubhouse wondering what’s next.

“There’s still no definitive answer for what’s going on,” he said. “It’s almost like I wish they were telling me I need surgery, bad as that sounds.”

Weaver said he’s done everything he’s been told by the medical people and the Angels’ coaches. His latest marching orders: a bullpen session Wednesday, followed by a Cactus League game Saturday.

But even Angels manager Mike Scioscia considers Weaver’s next start an “if,” not a “when.”

“We’ll see where his bullpen comes (Wednesday),” Scioscia said, “and if he comes out of it and he’s throwing the ball to where it’s going to be a positive for him to pitch in a game, to move him forward, then he’ll pitch.”

Weaver would appear to have two courses of action. One, adapt to the reality of a fastball that topped out at 79 mph in his last start six days ago against the Dodgers. He allowed three home runs that day in 2 2/3 innings.

The other option, more preferable for him and the Angels, would be to somehow extract more velocity from his repertoire despite a degenerating spine. Weaver won 18 games in 2014 with a fastball that sat between 83-85 mph. Only 33 years old, Weaver sees his decline as relatively small and incremental.

“I’m just going to keep trying with what I’m doing, hope one day it clicks,” he said.

Weaver, growing more frustrated with each question about his future, ultimately combusted.

“I’ll be back. You can quote me on that (stuff),” he said.

Then, “If you give me the ball, I’ll (expletive) pitch.”

Then, a final diagnosis.

“Doctor Weaver is the one who’s going to take it from here on out.”


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Jered Weaver’s frustration comes from uncertainty."
02. "The Angel Medical Staff diagnosed Mr. Weaver with mild degenerative changes in the cervical spine."
03. "After meeting with Dr. Robert Watkins, Mr. Weaver was back in the clubhouse wondering what’s next."

     To prevent degenerative changes in the cervical spine, baseball pitchers have to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forwrd together over their glove foot.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0197.  Cueto weathers line drive to head vs. A's
MLB.com
March 15, 2016

MESA, AZ: Giants starter Johnny Cueto experienced a frightening moment in Monday night's 10-3 Cactus League loss to the Oakland A's, whose leadoff batter, Billy Burns, lined the first pitch off the right-hander's forehead.

Cueto stayed in the game and pitched three innings, surrendering three runs -- all on a Josh Reddick homer -- and five hits. Upon leaving the game, Cueto also left Hohokam Stadium to return to the Giants' spring home at Scottsdale Stadium, where he was examined by team doctors for a possible concussion.

"He was treated for a contusion," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Monday's game. "We are going to monitor him tonight and tomorrow for any concussion symptoms."

Bochy seemed relieved that Cueto appeared to avoid serious injury.

"Nothing scares me more than what happened, that line drive up the middle," Bochy said. "[Cueto's] first night game, the first pitch of the game, I'm sure he didn't recognize it off the bat. I was hoping it was what it was, more of a glancing blow. Still, it caught him pretty good."

Cueto's second start of the spring appeared destined to end immediately as Burns' line drive struck the pitcher's forehead. The ball was hit with such force that it bounded into center field, enabling Burns to record a double.

"[Cueto] thinks it nicked his glove first. I didn't see that," Bochy said.

Bochy and head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner raced to the mound to examine Cueto, who convinced them he could continue pitching.

"He was fine out there," Bochy said. "He answered all the questions. He wanted to stay out there. ... Guess it shows how tough he is, in a Spring Training game."

Cueto looked confused when the next batter, Mark Canha, dribbled a grounder between the pitcher's mound and first base. Cueto initially pursued the ball, then backed off in the belief that first baseman Brandon Belt would handle the play. Canha collected an infield single, which preceded Reddick's homer.

From that juncture, Cueto settled down, retiring nine of the final 12 batters he faced. It was the second Cactus League start for Cueto, 30, who signed a six-year, $130 million contract during the offseason as a free agent.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Johnny Cueto experienced a frightening moment."
02. "Leadoff batter, Billy Burns, lined the first pitch off Mr. Cueto's forehead."

     To prevent line drives from hitting the baseball pitchers' forehead, baseball pitchers need to apply force to their pitches in front of the glove foot such that baseball pitchers have both feet on the ground before the pitches enter the hitting zone.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0198.  Lorenzen dealing with elbow strain, tendinitis
MLB.com
March 15, 2016

GOODYEAR, AZ: Reds right-hander Michael Lorenzen will likely miss the start of the season after an MRI on Monday revealed a mild strain and tendinitis in his throwing elbow.

While the news throws another wrinkle into manager Bryan Price's plans for his pitching staff, it is considered good news as Tommy John surgery would have been necessary had the test found a complete tear in Lorenzen's ulnar collateral ligament.

"I was at peace about whatever news I was going to get," Lorenzen said. "So, yeah, it's good news because I get to help out the Reds this year."

Lorenzen will be re-evaluated by team doctor Timothy Kremchek on Thursday and likely will be shut down for at least a week.

"I don't know how long it takes to treat this," Lorenzen said. "I just know there's no tears and that's awesome."

Lorenzen was considered a good candidate to fill one of the Reds' three open spots in the rotation or one of several others in the bullpen. He struck out two in two innings on March 4, his only appearance this spring.

Lorenzen said he felt pain in the elbow for a couple of weeks and it wasn't getting any better. He was scratched from his scheduled start on March 9. After Lorenzen tried to play catch on Sunday and couldn't, he underwent an ultrasound.

"This pain didn't seem like it was worth it to be a Spring Training All-Star to get through this pain," Lorenzen said. "I was being smart about it. I'd rather take a couple weeks off during Spring Training than miss time during the [regular] season."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Michael Lorenzen has a mild strain and tendinitis in his throwing elbow."
02. "The good news is Mr. Lorenzen will not need Tommy John surgery."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0199.  Rockies prospect Anderson out with strained right oblique
MLB.com
March 15, 2016

Rockies' lefty pitching prospect Tyler Anderson has a strained right oblique and will be out for a few weeks and underwent an MRI on Monday.

Anderson's issue, which forced Colorado to scratch him from a scheduled start against Milwaukee on Saturday, is the latest in a career slowed by nagging injuries. However, this one is not an arm problem like the stress fracture in his elbow that appeared in 2014 when he seemed on a fast track (7-4, 1.98 ERA in 23 starts at Double-A Tulsa). Anderson missed the 2015 Minor League season, but he checked out healthy after pitching in instructional ball.

Anderson has posted a 6.75 ERA in four innings this spring.

Weiss said Anderson reports feeling better than expected, but he and the Rockies will be careful with the injury.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Tyler Anderson has a strained right oblique."
02. "Mr. Anderson will be out for a few weeks."
03. "Mr. Anderson underwent an MRI."

     To prevent straining the Oblique Internus Abdominis muscle, baseball pitchers need to rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0200.  Arroyo says he has torn rotator cuff
MLB.com
March 16, 2016

VIERA, FL: Nationals right-hander Bronson Arroyo said he has a torn rotator cuff and will make a decision in the next couple of days on whether to rehab the shoulder or retire.

But first, the Nationals are going to compare the MRI Arroyo had in 2014 to the one taken on Wednesday to assess the actual damage in the shoulder.

During his pregame meeting with reporters, manager Dusty Baker said that Arroyo had his rotator cuff repaired during the same time he had Tommy John surgery in 2014. Arroyo was in uniform on Thursday and was seen talking to his teammates.

"[The shoulder] is not doing good. If it was, I wouldn't have the MRI," Arroyo said. "[The doctor said the rotator cuff] is significantly torn. ... We are going to compare the MRI from 2014 to this one, just to make sure. I'm still really strong in a lot of positions, which I wasn't last time it was hurting. So we'll see if it might be something we could calm down and maybe try to rehab.

"But it's probably going to be a long shot at this point. We're just going to take a couple days to really look at it, let them analyze between the two comparisons and see if it's the end of the game for me or not."

Arroyo was competing with right-handers Tanner Roark and Joe Ross for the final two spots in the rotation, and it looked like he had a good chance of making the team. In his most recent start, last Thursday against the Astros, Arroyo pitched three shutout innings and struck out three. Arroyo now says he wasn't healthy in that game against Houston.

Arroyo hasn't pitched in a Major League game since June 15, 2014, after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery.

"Yeah, I haven't really been healthy since I had the surgery. I had the Tommy John [on my] elbow, and I had my rotator cuff repaired as well. It had a small tear, about 30 percent, in '14. I mean, there would be days where I felt pretty good. But it was one of those things where I couldn't tell if it was just something that would work itself out in camp as I was building up, and it would get stronger and better, or if it was something that was just going to be there all the time.

"If it stayed where it was, I could pitch with that. But it got to the point my last outing where it's just significantly so much pain that there's just no way to possibly pitch. And there's also no way to turn it around and pitch again. It's not looking real good, but we'll take a couple days to just let them analyze it a little bit."

Arroyo has had a productive career in the big leagues. He has won 145 games and posted a career 4.19 ERA in 15 seasons. He is best remembered for helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 -- their first in 86 years.

Baker persuaded Arroyo to sign with the Nationals instead of the Reds this past offseason. The two were together for six years with Cincinnati.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Bronson Arroyo has a torn rotator cuff."
02. "In the next couple of days, the Nationals Medical Staff will decide whether to rehab the shoulder or retire."
03. "The Nationals Medical Staff will compare the MRI Arroyo had in 2014."
04. "Mr. Arroyo had his rotator cuff repaired during the same time he had Tommy John surgery."
05. "Mr. Arroyo hasn't pitched since Mr. Arroyo had Tommy John surgery on June 15, 2014."

     To pitch with a torn rotator cuff muscle attachment, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0201.  Rethinking bullpen roles: Will teams buy in?
MLB.com
March 16, 2016

The inundation of analytics has changed so much about baseball, from the way it's consumed to the way it's played out. Defensive shifts now occur frequently, hinging almost entirely on the tendencies displayed on advanced spray charts. Stats like Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) and OPS+ have changed the way lineups are structured, trumping long-held stereotypes for what a leadoff man or a cleanup hitter should look like.

And yet bullpen management -- in an era in which the World Series champion Royals have every club focusing on building a dominant relief corps -- remains archaic.

Closers, for the most part, still only pitch in save situations, and most managers continue to assign specific innings to three and sometimes even four of their relief pitchers. They call that "bullpen slotting." It's a deployment strategy disparaged by sabermetrical evangelists ever since Bill James put out his first manifesto on the subject more than 30 years ago, yet there is still no sign of it going away.

The opposing theory is so basic: You want your best reliever pitching in the game's most important juncture, no matter the inning. Why box yourself in with specific roles?

Good luck finding someone within the game who actually believes it can work, however.

"On paper, it actually should and can," said A's general manager David Forst, a Harvard grad who prides himself on outside-the-box thinking.

"These guys don't play on paper, and any manager will tell you that it's one of the most difficult parts of their job. I'm certainly respectful of that. It's something we've talked a lot about over the last few years, in realizing that these guys have routines, they have egos and feelings, and it's important to put them in places where they're comfortable and not just where you think they're most useful. Ideally, you'd like to set up the bullpen where you have your best guys pitching when it matters most."

But there are just so many issues that come with that, all of which can basically be narrowed down to a list of four:

1. What is the most important part of a game?

It seems a lot easier to decipher that in hindsight.

"I don't know how you know what the highest-leverage situation is until the game is over," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You think it's that sixth inning, but it could be the eighth or ninth."

2. Many throughout the industry -- including the most progressive-thinking managers and analytically inclined executives -- still cling to a belief that the ninth inning of a close game carries a heightened level of intensity that can't be duplicated elsewhere.

And because of that, the game's administrators believe those roles should only be filled by the toughest-minded men, guys with the hardened exterior to blow a save, shoulder the blame, forget about it and be unaffected the following day.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon utilizes the theory more than most, using all of his non-closing relievers in versatile, fluctuating roles. But his closer pitches exclusively in save situations because, as he said, "it permits you to work the first eight innings, knowing that he's there."

A key stat seems to support Maddon's usage.

A stat called Leverage Index (LI) helps illustrate the intensity of a situation a pitcher or batter took part in. Last year, each of the top six relievers in gmLI (a pitcher's average Leverage Index when he enters the game) were closers, finishing with no less than 30 saves each.

"Philosophically, I agree with it 100 percent," Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, a former closer but also one of the first active players to become a SABR member, said of using your best relievers in the highest-leverage situations. "I just think that the way human nature is, you're going to gravitate towards the guy you trust to pitch last. I've never seen a manager that does it another way."

Dipoto's first job in a baseball front office came as a scout for the 2003 Red Sox team that tried a closer by committee -- out of necessity -- and famously failed at it. The strategy hasn't really been utilized since, largely over reason.

3. Egos. Each of the 24 largest reliever contracts, based on average annual value, went to closers.

Non-closing relievers are being compensated much better these days, but save totals remain the most valuable compensation tool. Players know this, and managers live in constant fear that juggling their closers can fracture their clubhouses.

"There's obviously a lot of cache to pitching the ninth inning, and getting saves, and there's a lot of money that comes along with that, too," Forst said. "That is not an inconsequential part of the equation."

The entire baseball landscape would seemingly have to change in order for a practice like this to work.

Pitchers would have to be trained, both mentally and physically, to be ready at any point. Managers must be brave enough to shoulder criticism when late leads are blown using unconventional methods. And relief pitchers must be compensated differently, rewarded for core skills over raw save totals.

But even then, there's an unavoidable element to all of this.

4. Playing it by ear every day would inevitably force relief pitchers to warm up more frequently than they have to, ultimately hindering performance.

At least that's what Angels closer Huston Street believes.

"At the end of the day," Street said, "it's quite simple: There's just not enough energy to go around."

Street has been a closer almost his entire life, from his collegiate days at the University of Texas to the totality of his 11-year Major League career. He estimates that in a given year he actually makes about 100 appearances -- 65 or so when he pitches in a game and then another 30 or 40 from all those times he warms up in the bullpen, sits back down and warms up again. The latter is "every reliever's worst nightmare," Street said, but also an inevitable part of the job.

If a team's best reliever were assigned to the highest-leverage situation, as opposed to merely the ninth inning, Street estimates he would have to warm up, sit down and warm up again twice as frequently, because a lot of time is needed to get ready and because the leverage of a situation can change so quickly.

He believes it would be too much for a bullpen to absorb.

"There is no getting used to that," Street said. "You can't. Your arm gets sore. It just gets sore. That's what happens."

Street, and basically everybody else polled on the subject, concluded that the theory can work in small sample sizes, like the playoffs, but is unsustainable over the course of a six-month regular season. They ultimately believe the statistical advantages are not enough to outweigh all of the potential hazards that come with it.

"Perfect on paper," Street said. "But in practice, it's the worst idea I've ever heard."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "The opposing theory is so basic."
02. "Teams want their best reliever pitching in the game's most important juncture, no matter the inning."
03. "Why box yourself in with specific roles?"

     First, teams have to teach and train relief pitchers to always two innings.

     Second, teams should use the best relief pitcher available, no matter the inning.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0202.  Juan Nicasio----The Pirates' latest reclamation project
ESPN.com
March 16, 2016

SARASOTA, FL: When a 29-year-old free-agent pitcher with a 4.88 career ERA signs a one-year, $3 million contract, it isn’t going to be the lead story on SportsCenter. But when Juan Nicasio signed that deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates this winter, you know who noticed?

People in front offices all over baseball.

Because he throws 95 mph. Because he has a wipeout slider to go with it. And because, let’s face it, this is the Pirates.

“Everybody talks about, `You go here, you get better,’” Nicasio said Wednesday after maybe the most eye-popping outing by any pitcher for any team this spring. “I know why now.”

More on that in a moment. But first ... Nicasio’s box-score line in his start Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles was one that has never been compiled in any regular-season game in the history of baseball. Ready? Here it comes:

4 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts.

Wow.

“That kind of outing,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, “will get your attention.”

Uh, that’s for sure. You don’t see many double-digit strikeout games in spring training, period. But in this one, Nicasio faced just 14 hitters. He struck out 10 of them. Yeah, it was the Orioles. Yeah, they’re a threat to strike out, like, 2,000 times this year. But still.

“I feel really good today,” Nicasio said afterward, wearing a smile almost as wide as the Sunshine Skyway.

And of course he did. But not as good as the Pirates felt about him.

They signed him in December, a week after the Los Angeles Dodgers opted not to tender him a contract. And days like this were exactly what the folks in Pittsburgh had in mind. They saw a fellow with a big arm, an often-unhittable breaking ball and a set of numbers on the back of his baseball card that looked all out of whack because he spent his first four seasons in Colorado.

“I’ve got history there,” said Hurdle, who once managed the Rockies for eight seasons. “So I know how hard it can be to pitch there. And I think, within our industry, there’s different ways to look at guys who have pitched there. We liked the man. We liked the strength. We liked some of the indicators as we dug deeper. We really liked the resilience, the perseverance, some things the guy fought through, the makeup and the pitch-ability factor.”

So the Pirates looked past Nicasio’s 5.23 ERA at Coors Field because, well, that’s what they do. And now Nicasio looks poised to go where Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, J.A. Happ, Mark Melancon and so many other live arms have gone before him:

From a career of ups, downs and frustration to a whole new career of newfound success in Pittsburgh, thanks to the miracle-working ways of pitching coach Ray Searage.

“When you have a good pitching coach,” Nicasio said, “you feel comfortable. . . . Sometimes you have a pitching coach and he’s never talking with you. But when you have a pitching coach who tries to take care of you, in your sides, in your bullpens, you’re feeling comfortable that this guy, he’s helping me to be better.”

And that is a big part of Searage’s reputation. Keeps it simple. Stays upbeat. And that’s exactly what Nicasio heard about him from his new teammate, Liriano, over the winter.

Nicasio said that before he signed with the Pirates, Liriano called him and said: “We’ve got a great pitching coach here.” And Nicasio is now the latest member of Searage’s fan club.

“I like him because he’s fun,” Nicasio said. “You know what I mean? He’s laughing all the time. He jokes around with me. You throw a good pitch, and he’s happy. (So) I’m feeling happy, when I throw a good pitch and he’s happy, too. He’s screaming every pitch. And I’m happy for him.”

In Nicasio’s case, Searage hasn’t had to make any dramatic mechanical changes. They’ve mostly just focused on refining Nicasio’s approach and building confidence, after a career in which he has never quite had the success to match his stuff.

But what got the Pirates’ attention at this moment in time was the way Nicasio adapted to the bullpen last season after a trade to the Dodgers. In particular, he dominated right-handed hitters, holding them to a .226/.298/.335 slash line, with 49 strikeouts and only 35 hits allowed in 174 plate appearances.

“This guy’s got experience doing both (starting and relieving),” Hurdle said. “And that’s one of the things that attracted us to him. And also the fact that he pitched so well out of the bullpen last year after having had some challenges in the starting rotation in Colorado. He maintained velocity today for four innings, on a very hot day. . . . I just think he’s in a really good place, as far as having endurance, having stamina, building on that. The mentality is to be aggressive on the next pitch. Where that takes you, who knows?”

Where the Pirates thought it would take Nicasio, when they signed him, was a pivotal role as a multi-inning reliever, on a staff where no one except Gerrit Cole and Liriano are expected to pitch deep into games. But after days like this, it gives everyone a reason to take a step back and wonder if he might be even more of a weapon as a starter.

“I’m working hard for the rotation,” Nicasio admitted. “But I can’t control all that.”

His manager can, of course. But at this point, he’s not committing to anything, other than to say, “We’re going to play it out.”

Opening Day is 2 1/2 weeks away. And once again, the Pirates have a pitcher whose arrow appears ready to point upward. Maybe even way upward. So stay tuned.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Juan Nicasio had a 4.88 career ERA."
02. "Mr. Nicasio signed a one-year, $3 million contract."
03. "In four innings, Mr. Nicasio faced just 14 hitters."
04. "Mr. Nicasio struck out 10."
05. "Mr. Nicasio throws a 95 mph fastball and a wipeout slider."

     Pirate baseball pitcher, Juan Nicasio, said:

01. “When you have a good pitching coach, you feel comfortable."
02. "Sometimes baseball pitcher have a pitching coach that never talks with you."
03. "But, when you have a pitching coach who tries to take care of you."
04. "The pitching coach is on your side, in your bullpens."
05. "Baseball pitchers feel comfortable that this guy, he’s helping me to be better.”
06. “I like him because he’s fun.”
07. “You know what I mean?"
08. "He’s laughing all the time."
09. "He jokes around with me."
10. "You throw a good pitch and he’s happy."
11. "When I throw a good pitch, he’s happy, too."
12. "He’s screaming every pitch."
13. "I’m happy for him.”
14. “I’m working hard for the rotation.”
15. “But, I can’t control all that.”

     If Mr. Nicasio throws like he did in this game, then Mr. Nicasio will control whether he gets in the rotation.

     However, if Mr. Nicasio releases his wipeout slider over the top of his Index finger, then Mr. Nicasio will lose extension and flexion pitching elbow ranges of motion, pieces of bone breakaway, bone spurs and fractured olecranon process.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0203.  Sore shoulder will land McCullers on DL
MLB.com
March 16, 2016

KISSIMMEE, FL: Astros right-hander Lance McCullers will open the season on the disabled list as the club takes a cautious approach with the gifted 22-year-old and his sore right shoulder.

"There's just not going to be enough time to build him up for the role in which we anticipate him doing," manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday morning. "I told him that this morning so he'd be assured he's not trying to hit a deadline of Opening Day trying to impress anybody. We want him back healthy as soon as possible, but it's not going to be Opening Day."

McCullers has been sidelined since a March 6 throwing session. He reported soreness the following day, and when it didn't subside quickly, an MRI was done. That MRI was clean, but McCullers still has some soreness and doesn't know when he'll resume throwing.

"We're kind of taking it day by day," McCullers said. "I'm feeling a lot better. It's just up to the training staff and the team. They have my best interests in mind. We have the long-term goals in mind. I'm taking it day by day and going off what they say. It's just getting all the soreness out."

McCullers said he was frustrated by not being on a more specific schedule. Asked if his patience had been tested, he said, "My patience is already gone. It's been like three or four days and I have no more patience. They're talking me off the ledge.

"You want to pitch in the playoffs and down the stretch. At the same time, I want to pitch now. I want to go to New York [for the start of the regular season] and make that start. It's frustrating not being able to do that kind of stuff."

The Astros remain confident that the soreness isn't serious and that McCullers will pitch at some point during the regular season. But Hinch said McCullers is not ready now and that taking the regular season off the table allows him to recover at his own pace.

In doing so, Hinch will not be faced with a decision regarding his five-man rotation. It'll be: Dallas Keuchel, Colin McHugh, Doug Fister, Mike Fiers and Scott Feldman.

"We haven't gotten to the point where we're talking when I'm going to throw or how long it's going to be -- all that kind of stuff," McCullers said. "Time will tell. It's one of those frustrating things."

McCullers was one of the bright spots of the Astros' postseason run in 2015. McCullers made his Major League debut on May 18, and in 22 regular-season starts, he pitched 125 2/3 innings and had a 3.44 ERA. Including the postseason and Minor League assignments, he pitched 164 innings last season.

McCullers was sent back to the Minor Leagues for a stretch in the second half of the season as the Astros wanted to manage his workload. He was under no specific innings limit in 2016.

"It's not concerning. The MRI came back, everything's fine," McCullers said. "It's just one of those things where time has to heal. It's frustrating. You'd want to be a little more specific. You'd want this date picked out and that date picked out, that type of thing. It's not like that."


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     The article said:

01. "Lance McCullers will open the season on the disabled list."
02. "Mr. McCullers has sore pitching shoulder."
03. "A MRI was clean."
04. "The Astros Medical Staff doesn't know when Mr. McCullers will resume throwing."

     Mr. McCullers has his own throwing program.

     I suspect that Mr. McCullers tried too much too soon.

     To prevent sore pitching shoulders, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0204.  Injuries taking toll on Reds' rotation candidates
MLB.com
March 16, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Attrition is starting to affect the battle for the final three spots in the Reds' rotation.

Jon Moscot became the latest rotation candidate to need medical attention this week as the right-hander was scratched from Wednesday's start, a 10-6 loss to the D-backs, because a left intercostal muscle strain in his side. Moscot, who is day to day, was injured while taking batting practice a couple of days prior to his scratched start.

"It might be something where he pitches and it doesn't bother him, just don't have him swing the bat in a game and he'll be fine," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It could create a little bit of tenderness so we said, 'What are we going to do?' Are we going to pitch him in a Spring Training game? Force him to go out there and pitch when there's a little bit of tenderness? We're just being ultra-cautious right now."

Moscot might miss the one start only and is expected to still be OK for the regular season. Michael Lorenzen, who was diagnosed Tuesday with a right elbow strain and tendinitis, is unlikely to be ready for the rotation because he will need more rest.

While the disabled list is possible, Price felt Lorenzen could still make the team -- in a bullpen role, at least at first.

"Taking several days from throwing and not having pitched since [March 4] makes it a lot harder of a challenge for him to be able to start the season as a starter, to get him stretched out," Price said. "If Jon missed a start, if [Anthony] DeSclafani missed a start … [Raisel] Iglesias is going to go a start short, that's not a big deal. The big deal is two or three starts that you miss and trying to get up to where you can safely say the kid can throw 85 pitches in a game. … If they're not ready to do that, it just starts to kill your bullpen."

Add in that John Lamb hasn't pitched yet as he rehabs from back surgery and Homer Bailey isn't due to return from Tommy John surgery rehab until May, and the pool of options available to Price and the club's decision-makers has thinned.

DeSclafani and Iglesias were already viewed as locks for the rotation. Brandon Finnegan is looking like a safe bet for a spot. Moscot didn't pitch well in his previous two starts.

Where it gets real interesting is with prospects Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed. Both have pitched well this spring, but their service time would start if they made the team. Waiting a few weeks to call them up would extend their eligibility for free agency down the road for another season. Stephenson the Reds' No. 2 prospect, has a half a season of Triple-A experience, and Reed is ranked third by MLBPipeline.com, with a half-season of Double-A on his resume.

Tim Melville and Jonathan Sanchez, both signed to Minor League deals as free agents in the offseason, are also in the mix. If neither of them works out, perhaps a possibility is using projected long reliever Keyvius Sampson, who just got over right triceps soreness.

Price and the Reds are faced with either bringing up young prospects ahead of their desired timetable, using a pitcher in the rotation they had already tagged for the bullpen or Triple-A, or having to search the waiver wire for a stopgap veteran pickup.

"None of those are nearly as attractive as having a healthy group of guys in our rotation and bullpen, and having the guys we hoped would start the season for us be available," Price said. "It certainly doesn't look like that's going to be the case, especially with Michael."


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     The article said:

01. "Attrition affects the battle for the final three spots in the Reds' rotation."
02. "Jon Moscot needed medical attention for a strained intercostal muscle."
03. "Michael Lorenzen could still make a bullpen role."
04. "John Lamb is rehabbing from back surgery."
05. "Homer Bailey isn't due to return from Tommy John surgery rehab until May.

     The Reds need to teach and train baseball pitchers every off-day.

     To prevent strained intercostal muscles, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

     To prevent back surgery, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0205.  Honeycutt a big part of Kershaw's success
MLB.com
March 16, 2016

GLENDALE, AZ: Once the offseason shakeup of the Dodgers' on-field staff came to an end, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was the one surviving member from the Don Mattingly era.

It wasn't by chance. It was by choice.

Honeycutt had overtures from elsewhere, including the opportunity to join Mattingly in Miami, but when decision time came, Honeycutt saw no reason to leave the Dodgers after 10 years as the team's pitching coach.

And left-hander Clayton Kershaw is thankful.

Honeycutt is the only pitching coach Kershaw has had in a big league career that dates back to mid-May 2008 and has seen him claim National League Cy Young Awards in 2011, '13 and '14 and earn All-Star selections each of the past five seasons.

The success is because of Kershaw's ability and makeup, but Kershaw is the first to say it is the guiding hands of Honeycutt that has allowed him to turn potential into results.

"I trust him a lot," said Kershaw.

He should. Kershaw's career has been pretty good, and given the fact he turns 28 on Saturday, it figures to get better.

Kershaw is headed into Year 3 of a seven-year, $215 million contract, which was the biggest ever given a pitcher until David Price signed a seven-year, $217 million free-agent deal with the Red Sox this past offseason.

Honeycutt has been there when Kershaw has needed him along the way. And what gets lost in all the attention Kershaw has earned is that Honeycutt is not a one-trick pony.

During the 10 years Honeycutt has been the Dodgers' pitching coach, they have compiled the lowest ERA (3.65) and WHIP (1.27) in the Major Leagues. Their pitchers have led the Majors in strikeouts (12,605) and strikeout-to-walks ratio (2.55) during that span.

Honeycutt has played a key part in revitalizing veteran pitchers for a late surge like Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Dan Haren, Randy Wolf and Ted Lilly, who have helped the Dodgers win more games in the past 10 years (875) than any NL team other than the Cardinals (889).

It's not by chance, said Kershaw.

"He doesn't micromanage," Kershaw said. "He sees something and points it out. It's not like every moment he is telling you something is wrong. He knows the mechanics really well, but he works on being competitive and mental focus. He isn't one of those guys who the first day he sees you wants to change everything."

But when he sees a need, Honeycutt isn't shy.

That was evident in 2009, Kershaw's first full season in the Majors. After struggling in a loss at Philadelphia on May 12 that season, Kershaw was not only 1-3 for the season, but combined with his partial 2008 season, he was 6-8 with a 5.01 ERA in 35 starts.

It was, Honeycutt said, time for a heart-to-heart conversation.

"We sat down, and I showed him where his pitch pattern had been and talked about the fact he needed to come up with another secondary pitch," said Honeycutt. "The next bullpen [session], we worked on a slider, and that gave him a third weapon to go with the fastball and curveball."

Next game out? Well, Kershaw not only introduced that slider to hitters, but also suddenly decided to rely heavily on a changeup he had used only sporadically.

"He had Florida no-hit through seven innings, and he threw 17 changeups that day, probably the most he ever used it," said Honeycutt. "Joe [Torre, the Dodgers' manager at the time] and I are looking at the pitching count, which we were trying to keep down because he was so young [21]. We're wondering, 'What are we going to do?'"

The answer came in the eighth. Cody Ross led off the inning with a double, and Guillermo Mota was waved in from the bullpen. Kershaw departed, having thrown 112 pitches.

It was the beginning of what has become one of the more dominating stretches any pitcher has had.

Since that start in Florida, Kershaw leads all pitchers making at least 50 starts in the past six-plus seasons in wins (101), winning percentage (101-43, .701), complete games (21), strikeouts (1,461), ERA (2.24), batting average allowed (.203) and just about any other stat of value.

Advantage, Kershaw. Thanks to Honeycutt.

"Your job as a coach is not making up something," said Honeycutt. "There has to be substance in what you tell them. There is so much video now that you can sit and dissect.

"When I came up, you didn't have all the technical tools. You had to learn from someone verbally telling you things. We still talk about situations, but now we can show a player what we are talking about so they can visualize."

It is a picture Kershaw has seen clearly.


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     Dodger baseball pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt, said:

01. "We sat down, and I showed him where his pitch pattern."
02. "Mr. Kershaw needed to come up with a secondary pitch."
03. "In the next bullpen, we worked on a slider."
04. "The slider gave Mr. Kershaw a third weapon to go with the fastball and curveball."

     Mr. Kershaw pronates the release of his curve.      I wonder whether Mr. Honeycutt taught Mr. Kershaw to release his slider over the top of his Index finger.      However, if Mr. Kershaw releases his slider over the top of his Index finger, then Mr. Kershaw will lose extension and flexion pitching elbow ranges of motion, pieces of bone breakaway, bone spurs and fractured olecranon process.

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0206.  Bundy finding comfort zone in bullpen
MLB.com
March 17, 2016

SARASOTA, FL: A day after making his fifth relief appearance of the spring, Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy said Thursday it's been "so far, so good," in terms of how his right arm has responded to his new role. Not once after any of those outings has he felt sore, Bundy added.

Then, the 23-year-old made a point of reaching out with his left hand and knocking on the wooden side of his locker in the Orioles' clubhouse.

Ballplayers are a superstitious bunch anyway, but one can forgive Bundy in particular for taking precautions. The fourth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft made it to the Majors the following year and became MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 overall prospect, but since then arm injuries have stalled his career. Now out of Minor League options, Bundy is on track for a Major League bullpen role -- if healthy.

"My arm's bouncing back, recovering well," said Bundy, who threw two scoreless innings in Wednesday's 9-3 win over the Pirates. "I feel great today. So really my arm is no concern anymore. Now it's just going out there, competing, working on stuff and getting results."

While Bundy's only two big league appearances came in relief, that's not his natural role. All 40 of his Minor League games were starts, but circumstances are now forcing him to adapt.

In Bundy's first three Grapefruit League innings, he allowed three runs on five hits. In his last three, he gave up one unearned run on one hit. More important than the results, he has felt his comfort level growing.

"Coming out of the 'pen is different for me. I haven't done it very much," said Bundy, still ranked as the Orioles' No. 2 prospect. "The main thing is getting loose before the game and staying loose during the game, to be ready for whenever they call you to come in."

To do that, he plays catch beforehand, then sometime between the fourth and sixth innings begins stretching, loosening his arm and playing catch again.

Once he's on the mound, one issue for Bundy has been the tempo of his work. That's something Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he discussed with the pitcher, and Showalter saw significant improvement in that area during Wednesday's outing.

"Every now and then you get kind of out of sync, when you walk a guy or give up some back-to-back hits or something like that," Bundy said. "Sometimes all it takes is someone to remind you, 'Hey, keep that tempo up,' and I was able to go do that a little bit better [on Wednesday]."

That appearance saw Bundy retire six of seven Pirates, all but one of them a projected starter. To close out the fifth inning, he blew a 95 mph fastball past Andrew McCutchen, who an inning earlier had launched a home run off starter Kevin Gausman.

"I thought Bundy threw the ball real well," Showalter said. "That's about Dylan's best."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "A day after making his fifth relief appearance of the spring, Dylan Bundy said his pitching arm has responded to his new role."
02. "Not once after any of those outings has Mr. Bundy felt sore."
03. "In Mr. Bundy's first three Grapefruit League innings, Mr. Bundy allowed three runs on five hits."
04. "In his last three, Mr. Bundy gave up one unearned run on one hit."
05. "More important than the results, Mr. Bundy has felt his comfort level growing."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0207.  Knee injury will force Rodriguez to start season on DL
MLB.com
March 17, 2016

FORT MYERS, FL: What had become increasingly inevitable over the past week became a reality on Thursday morning, when lefty Eduardo Rodriguez was officially ruled out for the start of the season by manager John Farrell.

"He is not going to be ready for the start of the season," said Farrell. "So ... we'll address each phase as it comes. Most importantly, we want to make sure that his stride direction, his stride length, all of those, are normal as we then build the intensity on top of that."

Rodriguez suffered a patella subluxation in his right knee on Feb. 27. Wednesday was the first time Rodriguez threw off the mound since the injury, but it was not a full-intensity session.

The three top candidates to fill in while Rodriguez is out are Henry Owens, Steven Wright and Roenis Elias.

"I think the best way to describe this is he's going to go through phases of work," said Farrell. "Right now, he's in a bullpen phase, and that will be on an every-other-day basis until the intensity is capable of being ramped up."

It remains to be seen how much time Rodriguez will miss to start the season, but Farrell made it clear that the Red Sox won't skip any steps, and the lefty will have to go through a regular Spring Training progression.

"The best-case scenario is when he's first ready and available," Farrell said. "I'm not trying to avoid your question, but there are steps that we have to go through here, and I don't have an exact number of days that he'll have to advance through each of those phases.

"I can tell you this: Anytime we get a starting pitcher that goes out on rehab, you're getting them to 80-90 pitches. You can't bring them back with the potential that they overtax a bullpen. We've got to build to that point. He needs Spring Training."

Rodriguez is coming off a strong rookie season in which he went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 21 starts. The Red Sox hope he can be one of the key pitchers in the rotation behind David Price.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Eduardo Rodriguez was officially ruled out for the start of the season."
02. "Mr. Rodriguez suffered a patella subluxation in his glove knee."
03. "Mr. Rodriguez is coming off a strong rookie season."
04. "The Red Sox hope Mr. Rodriguez can be one of the key pitchers in the rotation."

     To prevent sublaxing the patella on the glove knee, baseball pitchers need to land on the heel of their glove foot.

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0208.  Barrios' bullpen  hopes dashed by injury
MLB.com
March 17, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: Coming off a promising showing last September, right-hander Yhonathan Barrios has been bumped from the Brewers' bullpen competition by a right shoulder injury that will force him to the Opening Day disabled list.

Whether Barrios requires surgery or merely an extended course of rest and rehabilitation remained an open question as of Thursday, when his records were sent to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Barrios declined to specify the nature of his injury, pending Andrews' response.

"We're just waiting," Barrios said. "I think he's going to look at it [Friday] and send back the results. This happens in baseball. We need to be mentally strong. It's not easy, but you need to accept it happens in baseball, especially with a pitcher."

Barrios, 24, is relatively new to pitching, having converted from third base beginning in 2013, four years after he signed with the Pirates out of Colombia. Pittsburgh traded him to Milwaukee last July for third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and Barrios thrived in his new organization, posting a 3.15 ERA in 16 regular season appearances for Double-A Biloxi, then working 6 2/3 scoreless innings over five September games with the Brewers.

"I was really comfortable on the mound," Barrios said.

That changed in November, while he was pitching in Venezuela. Barrios was shut down and traveled to Phoenix to rehab at Maryvale Baseball Park, and was considered healthy at the start of Spring Training. But he felt renewed discomfort during a bullpen session and was scratched from his first scheduled appearance in the Cactus League.

"He will not be healthy to start the season," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "So, we're going to wait for the second opinion, and then he's going to make a decision on a course of action. For him, it's better to wait.

"It's unfortunate. Injuries are unfortunate. The guy worked hard to get here, obviously. But whatever he decides, he'll work hard."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Yhonathan Barrios has a pitching shoulder injury."
02. "Whether Mr. Barrios requires surgery or an extended course of rest and rehabilitation remains an open question."
03. "The Brewers sen Mr. Barrios records to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion."
04. "Mr. Barrios is relatively new to pitching."
05. "In 2013, Mr. Barrios converted from third base to pitching."

     To prevent pitching shoulder injuries, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0209.  Indians prospect Weathers hits 108 mph
MLB.com
March 18, 2016

Casey Weathers, yellow sneakers flashing, takes a few running steps and a crow hop before hurling a baseball with all his might into a sock net, which is a mere 30-ish feet away from his release point. A radar gun reading gets spit out on a monitor mounted on the wall: 107.8 mph.

"I got really fortunate in the last year," says Weathers, 30, who battled bad luck and injuries for the better part of five seasons. "I basically got signed by the Indians off a pull-down video."

The "pull-down" drill is so named because it comes from the end of the second phase of pitching guru Alan Jaeger's long-toss regimen, in which, after "stretching out" to 300-foot throwing distances, pitchers "pull down" to the comparably minute distance at which their final throws are made. But at Driveline Baseball in Seattle, where Weathers has been training for parts of the last two years, the drill is used as a once-weekly "max-intent" stress test to see just how hard a pitcher can throw.

"I played outfield growing up, so I do more of an outfielders throw," says Weathers, a 2007 first-round Draft pick who battled back from said arm injuries to strike out more than a batter per inning across two Minor League levels in 2015. "You try to beat your score every time and get as much velocity as you can.

"I can definitely get some translation to the mound as far as getting arm speed, but it's all about the confidence for me. I've been through all these injuries, and now I can throw a ball at max intent at very high output and I'm fine. That's the biggest confidence thing for me. I can prepare my body to do the things I need to do to compete during the season."

To some extent, hitting 108 mph seems crazy when you consider that the fastest pitch tracked by StatCast in 2015 was 103.9 mph, by Aroldis Chapman, but that's how much a crow hop can help as compared to just throwing off of a mound. The momentum gained from a running start also helps explains how Carlos Gomez was able to hit 103.1 mph while throwing Brian McCann out at the plate last September, and how Kevin Kiermeier topped 100 mph.

It was November 2014 when Weathers caught Cleveland's eye with a "pull down" of 105.8 mph, seven years after he was taken eighth overall in the 2007 Draft, two picks ahead of San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

But it was also six years after Weathers' first Tommy John surgery and just one year since the revision that removed a bone spur the size of the tip of his pinky from his repaired UCL.

Indians director of player development Carter Hawkins, who caught Weathers at Vanderbilt University, already knew his work ethic and desire to get better. But the pull-down video showed Hawkins that Weathers was finally healthy and in top shape.

"Seeing the intent with which he was throwing in that video basically answered that question," Hawkins says. "We knew at that point that the physical part wasn't a limitation, and we were excited to bring him on board and start the process of translating the arm strength to in-game execution."

Weathers struck out 75 batters in 49 1/3 innings in 2007 as the closer for a stacked Commodores squad that featured future big leaguers David Price, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty. Weathers was throwing 95-97 mph and had a put-away slider that earned him a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, where he teamed with the likes of Jake Arrieta and Dexter Fowler to take home the bronze. And that was the last time his elbow would feel good.

After his first surgery in 2008, Weathers wouldn't pitch for 20 months. Then, he entered a vicious cycle of pitching with pain, which affected his performance. Mechanical fixes that only made things worse. Weathers saw his velocity drop and his control diminish as he was released by one team after another: the Cubs, the Giants, the Rays.

"I always had pain," Weathers says. "I never had a day where I wasn't pitching through something."

Until now.

Take a gander at the Minor League fields at the Tribe's camp in Goodyear, Ariz., and you'll see the chain-link fences lined with pads and the ground littered with weighted baseballs.

Weathers was reintroduced to the somewhat controversial training method of throwing weighted balls while at Driveline, but he had originally learned to throw them under the tutelage of Derek Johnson (who is now the pitching coach for the Brewers) at Vanderbilt. It is no coincidence that the Indians, who have embraced the use of weighted balls, have acquired several pitchers who have trained with Driveline, including Trevor Bauer.

Mostly, Weathers throws a two-pound ball, which he says makes his mechanics more efficient, stronger and healthier, but he also uses lighter balls -- two or four ounces -- which emphasize deceleration of the arm and specifically target a problem Weathers has with early elbow extension. (For context, a regulation ball is five ounces.)

"I think the weighted balls have completely salvaged my career," Weathers says. "There is an underlying remapping that comes with using the heavy balls that helps you to throw strikes. If your arm is working more efficiently, then your line to the plate is also more efficient."

With health and efficiency came velocity, which the Indians saw in Weathers' pull-down video. Cleveland signed him prior to the 2015 season, which Weathers spent in Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Akron. In 49 1/3 innings, Weathers had 55 strikeouts with a fastball that sat in the 95-97-mph range. The one blemish on his stat line was were 4.7 walks per nine, but he'd walked more than a batter per inning in a brief stint in Class A with the Rays in 2014 after not pitching competitively in '13, so even that could be seen as an improvement.

This offseason, Weathers got his pull-down velocity on the cusp of 108 mph. His goals for 2016 are to better command the zone, get ahead in the count and increase his fastball velocity. Weathers is also working on a cutter and a two-seam fastball.

"I don't even know what my big league opportunities are, and it doesn't even really matter," Weathers says. "I feel like this is the best place for me right now in my career to get the most out of my abilities, and that's the main factor, more than getting that cup of coffee. I honestly just want to pitch healthy and be competitive, and I want to be able to prepare to do that, to a point where I'm comfortable and confident when I go out and pitch."

The Tribe is on board with that philosophy.

"Casey has a super creative approach with how he goes about his work," says Indians assistant director of player development Eric Binder. "He's always looking for ways to develop where he's currently at to get to where he wants to be. He's willing to look outside the box and he's willing to partner with us on that approach."

But it's an approach, it seems, that may finally lead Weathers to the big leagues.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Casey Weathers takes a few running steps and a crow hop before hurling a baseball with all his might a mere 30 feet away from his release point."
02. "A radar gun reading gets spit out on a monitor mounted on the wall: 107.8 mph."
03. "After Mr. Weathers' first surgery in 2008, Mr. Weathers wouldn't pitch for 20 months."
04. "Mr. Weathers entered a vicious cycle of pitching with pain."
05. "Mechanical fixes that only made things worse."
06. "Mr. Weathers throws a two-pound ball."
07. "The two-pound ball makes Mr. Weathers' mechanics more efficient, stronger and healthier."

     If a two-pound ball makes baseball pitching mechanics more efficient, stronger and healthier, they Mr. Weathers needs to work up to throwing an 15 lb. lead ball.

     Until Mr. Weathers learns how to turn the back of his pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot, Mr. Weather will injury-free, pain-free and maximize this release velocity and consistency.

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0211.  Former Saint Leo College baseball pitcher questions the 'Slingshot'

Just a follow up on last email.

Is the slingshot your referring to the same thing as what you called "outward rotation" when you coached at Saint Leo?.

I certainly remember you referring to that often.


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     What I taught at Saint Leo was just a start. In the twenty years since then, I have refined my drills.

     The 'Slingshot' position applies force through release.

     To get into the 'Slingshot' position, my baseball pitchers have to have their pitching upper arm vertically beside their head with their pitching forearm horizontally pointing toward second base.

     To get the pitching forearm to point toward second base, my baseball pitchers have to outwardly rotate their pitching upper arm.

     With the pitching forearm horizontally pointing toward second base, my baseball pitchers are able to powerfully inwardly rotate their pitching upper arm followed inwardly rotating (pronating) the pitching forearm such that my baseball pitchers powerfully turn the thumb of their pitching hand points downward and farther.

     By horizontally sailing the square Lid from a four-gallon bucket, my baseball pitchers are able to pronate the releases of their breaking pitches. I call my curve ball, the Maxline or Torque Pronation Curve.

     After my baseball pitchers master pronating the releases of their breaking pitches, my baseball pitchers work on mastering the spin axes for my Torque Fastball, Maxline Fastball, Maxline Fastball Sinker and Torque and Maxline Pronation Curves.

     Hopefully, you and those you teach watch the Football Training Program section in my Baseball Pitching Instructional Video and learn these critical skills.

     I put the eleven sections of my two and one-half hour Baseball Pitching Instructional Video on-line for all to watch in 2006 and we continue to refine the drills that teach the skills our baseball pitchers need.

     I am available to answer any questions that you have.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, March 27, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0212.  Mike Farrenkopf presents his Masters thesis (UIW Pitching Project)

I hope things are going well in Florida for you.

In 2014, one of my physical therapy school professors put on a short video during class about Frank Jobe. He had passed away the week before. The video was about the story of Frank Jobe and Tommy John Surgery. I remember your version of the story quite well. Let’s just say your version of the story on how you were with Tommy John through most of the process was better than the video’s version.

It was at that moment I decided to introduce what I had learned in Florida from you to my professors. The next class they had me do a presentation on your pitching motion to my classmates.

At that moment is when two of my classmates who were also former high school and collegiate baseball players took interest. One of them had Tommy John Surgery during college as a short stop. He tore his UCL when throwing a ball to 1st base.

We 3 decided to do our senior research project on comparing your pitching motion with traditional. Although our study is far from perfect, we had a lot of fun considering we were able to bring baseball to school. There may be flaws in the study but I find our results interesting and if anything it fulfilled our requirement to graduate from school this May.

I attached the word document which is our paper and the powerpoint document which is our poster so you can read it. Please let me know if you have trouble opening it.

--------------------------------------------------

Comparing routine overhead pitching style with Dr. Mike Marshall’s pitching motion and their effects on the ulnar collateral ligament.

Christopher Caroll, Michael Farrenkopf, Jeremy Schultz

Introduction

Historically, elbow injuries are one of the most common upper extremity injuries in the overhead throwing athlete. As many as 50% of professional baseball pitchers will experience elbow pain that prevents them from throwing at one point in their career.1

Even in the youth pitchers twenty five percent of the athletes will admit to elbow pain through two seasons.2

The elbow joint is comprised of three bones, the humerus, radius, and ulna which are all connected by two main ligaments.

These two ligaments are the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The MCL is composed of three bundles, the anterior, posterior, and transverse.

The anterior bundle is responsible for restricting valgus stresses on the elbow, while stabilizing against valgus torques especially when the elbow is flexed to 20-120 degrees.

The transverse bundle is a poorly developed ligament that provides minimal valgus stability and may assist in maintaining elbow joint approximation.

Finally, the posterior bundle limits elbow extension at the end of the available elbow range of motion.

The biomechanics during the overhead throw, starting from the ankle up, can cause different amounts of forces on the dominant upper extremity.

Elbow valgus overload syndrome (EVOS) is one of the most common injuries that occurs due to the amount of valgus torque that is occurring due to these forces.

This syndrome involves a compression force to the lateral side of the elbow, and tensile forces on the medial side of the elbow.

The prolonged state of the tensile forces on the medial side of the elbow are what eventually cause degeneration and tearing of the UCL[WAG1].

There are many misconceptions of how the UCL undergoes strain.

Some believe that athletes throwing too much can lead to muscular fatigue, which can causes decreased quality in throwing mechanics causing increased strain on the elbow.

Research has shown that kinematics and kinetics do not change due to muscle fatigue.2,3

Although muscles may not be responsible for causing poor mechanics, muscle activation can assist the UCL in supporting the elbow during the overhead throw.

The triceps, wrist flexor-pronator group, and the anconeus are three of the primary stabilizers that prevent valgus overload and reduce the amount of stress on the UCL.4

During the overhead motion there is a mean valgus torque of 120Nm that is produced during maximal external rotation.4 In studies done on human cadavers the UCL will fail under less amount of force than the 120Nm so the importance of supporting musculature is imperative.

In the 2014 baseball season there have been 30 Tommy John surgeries performed on Major League Baseball pitchers.

Oyama states that there are three possible ways of preventing upper extremity injuries in baseball players:

1. regulation of unsafe participation factors,
2. implementation of exercise intervention to modify suboptimal physical characteristics,
3. and instructional intervention to correct improper pitching techniques.5

Of the three ways of preventing injuries, pitching technique is one of the least explored methods.

Muscle activation during an overhead throw can change depending on the type of throwing style that the pitcher adopts.

Most overhead athletes adopt the routine overhead throw in which the stated forces are applied to the elbow joint.

There is another pitching style called the Dr. Mike Marshall Pitching Motion (MMPM) that was named after its creator.6

The methodology to MMPM is that pitchers will achieve maximum release velocity without added stress to the UCL by activating muscles needed to stabilize the elbow joint.6

Pitchers can achieve this by ensuring that the ball is at driveline height when the pitchers front foot lands.6

This will help eliminate the valgus forces on the UCL during the acceleration phase of pitching.

MMPM teaches pitchers to use their latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, and pronator teres to accelerate the baseball.6

Using these muscles as the primary accelerators help decrease the use of the pectoralis major muscle which can cause a pitcher to pull his arm through the acceleration phase and leaves the UCL susceptible to valgus forces.6

Traditional pitchers that do not use the latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, and pronator teres strongly during the acceleration phase will use the pectoralis major to pull their arm through to get to release.6

The purpose of this study was to compare routine overhead pitching with MMPM on the muscle activations during each phase of the pitching motion.

We hypothesize that the routine overhead pitching style lacks the use of the muscles shown to stabilize against valgus stress to the elbow while Mike Marshall Pitching Method (MMPM) bases their throwing style on activation of these muscles.

Methods

Two pitchers participated in the study.

One pitcher was a traditional overhead thrower and one was a MMPM throwing pitcher.

The inclusion criteria for the study consisted of subjects who were male pitchers, throw with the traditional overhead motion or with Dr. Mike Marshall's Pitching Motion.

The subject must have had previously or currently pitched in the collegiate level.

The exclusion criteria consisted of subjects that had previous medial collateral ligament repair surgery (Tommy John Surgery):

1. could not be under the age of 18,
2. and could not have had pain in the elbow in the last 3 months from pitching,
3. or sidearm/submarine throwing style.

The study was approved by the institutional review board and all subjects signed inform consent forms.

Procedures

Both participants threw 3 fastballs and 3 curveballs under motion analysis and EMG readings after 10 minutes of Upper Bike Ergometer (UBE) at their own desired pace and 10 warm-up pitches thrown at their own desired intensity.

Pitchers threw indoor on a flat surface with into net 15 feet away.

EMG's were attached to pitchers bodies, specifically on the latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, brachialis, pectoralis major, and the wrist flexor group.

Manual muscle testing specific for each muscle was performed to get maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC).

EMG was used to assess MVC of each muscle to get an average of muscle activation of the latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, triceps brachii, wrist flexors, teres major, and infraspinatus during the cocking, acceleration, and deceleration phase.

EMG recordings were measured when each subject started their arm movement and stopped after arm movement completed the deceleration phase of their motion.

Table: 1

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|Pitch Style|   IS   |Ter Maj |Triceps | Latiss |Pectoral|wrt flex|
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|MMPM       |  59.05 | 216.07 |  81.03 | 121.38 |  61.61 | 302.44 | 
|Traditional| 138.62 | 475.56 | 408.23 | 311.84 | 200.13 | 304.35 |
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Results:

Overall, the EMG muscle activations of the wrist flexor group and triceps were higher with the MMPM during the acceleration and deceleration phase of the pitching motion during both the fastball and curveball pitches.

Only the wrist flexor group and pectoralis major during the cocking phase was higher in the traditional overhead throwing style compared to MMPM.

(Table 2). These results showed there is significantly more activation in both the triceps and wrist flexor group in the MMPM during phases that produce the most valgus torque during the pitching cycle. The time spent in each phase of the pitching motion is shown in table 3.

Table 2:

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|                      Average MVC During Fastball Throwing                                  |
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|Muscle       |MMPM Cocking|Trad Cocking| MMPM Accel  | Trad Accel | MMPM Decel | Trad Accel |
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|Infraspinatus|   38.57    |   28.62    |   76.07     |   47.13    |   77.82    |   66.23    |
|Teres Major  |   10.11    |   07.48    |   31.93     |   20.55    |   16.59    |   29.29    |
|Triceps Brac |   37.29    |   05.42    |  345.39     |   31.04    |   79.15    |   21.24    |
|Latiss Dorsi |   11.28    |   06.33    |   48.87     |   31.88    |   24.08    |   40.01    |
|Pector Major |   54.51    |   31.91    |   90.76     |  409.66    |   62.51    |  906.67    |
|Wr Flex Mass |   03.02    |   05.60    |   34.89     |   20.18    |   25.13    |   12.15    |
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|                      Average MVC During Curveball Throwing                                  |
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|Muscle       |MMPM Cocking|Trad Cocking| MMPM Accel  | Trad Accel | MMPM Decel | Trad Accel |
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|Infraspinatus|   39.61    |   25.41    |   65.97     |   50.15    |   78.03    |   49.75    |
|Teres Major  |   12.43    |   07.48    |   40.05     |   21.78    |   16.59    |   27.19    |
|Triceps Brac |   35.59    |   04.98    |  289.09     |   17.18    |  119.32    |   18.57    |
|Latiss Dorsi |   12.29    |   05.33    |   49.11     |   18.23    |   44.43    |   49.73    |
|Pector Major |   61.88    |  110.21    |  795.56     |  560.25    |   85.53    | 1184.20    |
|Wr Flex Mass |   02.91    |   03.98    |   34.99     |   20.54    |   37.39    |   17.19    |
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Table 3:

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|                     Time Spent in Throwing Phases                            |
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|Pitch Phases | MMPM Fastball | Trad Fastball | MMPM Curveball |Trad Curveball |
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|Cocking      |    .77 sec    |    .52 sec    |     .79 sec    |    .51 sec    |
|Acceleration |    .40 sec    |    .29 sec    |     .45 sec    |    .36 sec    |
|Deceleration |    .426sec    |    .15 sec    |     .21 sec    |    .14 sec    |
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Conclusion:

This study provides evidence that MMPM recruits higher muscle activation of the triceps and wrist flexor group which may reduce the amount of stress on the UCL compared to the traditional overhead throwing motion.

The results confirms Mike Marshall's theory that MMPM uses latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, and pronator teres as the primary accelerators helping decrease the use of the pectoralis major muscle which can cause a pitcher to pull his arm through the acceleration phase leaving the UCL susceptible to valgus forces.

The results indicate MMPM may reduce the torque placed on the UCL during the pitching motion.

Therefore, adopting MMPM may reduce the prevalence of UCL injuries in baseball pitchers.

Limitations of this study are the results cannot be generalized to the population due to the small sample size, no kinetic analysis were performed to calculate the torques placed on the elbow, and participants did not throw on a pitching mound, or into a distance of 60 feet 6 inches away.

Future research should set out to compare MMPM and traditional overhead throwers on the torques placed on the elbow during each phase of the pitching motion.

References

1. Tullos HS, King JW. Throwing mechanism in sports Orthop Clin North Am. 1973;4(3):709-720.

2. Anz AW, Bushnell BD, Griffin LP, Noonan TJ, Torry MR, Hawkins RJ. Correlation of torque and elbow injury in professional baseball pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 2010;38(7):1368-1374.
3. Murray TA, Cook TD, Werner SL, Schlegel TF, Hawkins RJ. The effects of extended play on professional baseball pitchers Am J Sports Med. 2001;29(2):137-142
4. Werner SL, Murray b TA, Hawkins RJ, Gill TJ. Relationship between throwing mechanics and elbow valgus in professional baseball pitchers. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. 2002;11(2):151 155
5. Oyama S. Baseball pitching kinematics, joint loads, and injury prevention Journal of Sport and Health Science. 2012;1(2):80
6. Dr. Mike Marshall. Dr. mike marshall's pitching coach services. Coaching Baseball Pitchers Book Web site. http://www.drmikemarshall.com/. Updated 2016. Accessed 03/21/2016, 2016.


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     You guys got it right.

     Injury-free baseball pitching requires the Latissimus Dorsi, Triceps Brachii and Pronator Teres muscles.

     What your research cannot show is the increase in release velocity and consistencey to go with the wide variety of high-quality pitches that these three muscles provide.

     Enough analyzing the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion, the Marshall baseball pitching motion has everything that baseball pitchers need.

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0213.  54 high school age pitching students

Just today, Eric reached an agreement with a local summer high school baseball organization to strength train and pitching train 54 high school age baseball pitchers during the 5 month off season starting this fall.

He explained all about the Marshall Pitching and Training method to the organizational director and the director was familiar with your program.

He had been looking for someone who knew how to effectively teach your program.

This is great news!

54 young high school men who will be exposed to everything you teach, including strength training with iron balls, wrist weights, as well as the lids and footballs for skill acquisition.

This is an exciting development.


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     Except that we have to wait until the fall, this is a great opportunity for these high school baseball pitchers.

     Once they master the skills, these kids will own the mound.

     You and Eric will have a lot of work and fun.

     I wish that I lived closer.

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0213.  54 high school age pitching students

You can rest assured that we will follow your program to the "T". He and I are 110% sold on everything you teach, because we experienced it working for both of us. We are both living proof of the effectiveness of your program. We will also refer them to your website frequently as all you have learned is there for anyone to read. Most high school age kids have attention spans the length of a gnat's eyelash, so we "translate" and put things in terms they relate to.

On a side note, I have been able to master my maxline sinker, and have experienced something odd with it. I have been throwing bullpens to a couple different catchers, and both say that besides the fact that my sinker has sharp, late depth, and moves to my pitching arm side, it also has greater velocity than my maxline fastball. That seemed strange to me because I feel the release of my maxline 4 seam fastball as driving directly off the front tip of my middle finger.

When I release my maxline sinker, due to the grip and powerful pronation before, during, and after release, my hand "feels" like it is driving thru the inside, or glove side of the ball, and the ball is released off the ring finger side of my middle finger. It doesn't "feel" like the velocity of the pitch would be as high as my maxline fastball.

This is making me wonder if I am really pronating as powerfully on the release of my maxline fastball as I think I am. I know on my sinker I am consciously concentrating on pronating the release as hard as I can. I may not be as committed to maximum pronation on my fastball as I think I am. I can't wait until my next bullpen to try this theory out.


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     I trust you and your son to teach and train my baseball pitching motion without appeasing the 'traditional' baseball pitching coaches.

     The 'pronation snap' through release adds considerable force to the finish to my Maxline Fastball Sinker.

     The high-speed rotation that my Maxline Fastball Sinker feels as though the 'pronation snap' increased the release velocity.

     However, the high-speed rotation decreases the release velocity.

     We are able to 'pronation snap' the release of the Maxline Fastball with the tip of the Middle finger driving through the middle of the baseball, not to the inside edge of the baseball.

     If you focus on the tip of the Middle finger when you release the Maxline Fastball, then you will feel the force-coupling of the pitching elbow moving backward and recoiling the pitching hand.

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0214.  Pineda eyes first 200-inning campaign
MLB.com
March 19, 2016

TAMPA, FL: This marks Michael Pineda's fifth season in the Yankees' organization, which seems like a false fact until you recall that the right-hander lost the two seasons immediately following his acquisition to injury.

It has been a long road, but the Yankees are squeezing dividends out of that Jan. 23, 2012 deal with the Mariners, having apparently gotten the better of the Jesus Montero swap. Pineda now has his sights set on being present for a full campaign.

"If you're healthy, you can compete and you can pitch. That's what I'm looking for," Pineda said. "That's what I want; to be healthy all season and pitching every five days to help my team."

Pineda, 27, fired four innings of one-run, four-hit ball in the Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Braves on Saturday, walking none and striking out four. He was 12-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 27 starts last year, completing 160 2/3.

He says that he intends to reach the 200-innings mark for the first time, and manager Joe Girardi isn't ruling out the idea that Pineda could make 30 to 32 starts. Pineda's slider and changeup still need a little fine-tuning, Girardi said, but his biggest key is health.

"This year, I think he's more prepared for the workload than he was last year, just because he went through it and he hadn't pitched in a couple years, really," Girardi said. "I think he's in a much better position going into this year."


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     The article said:

01. "Michael Pineda intends to reach the 200-innings mark for the first time."
02. "Mr. Pineta's slider and changeup still need a little fine-tuning."

     Because Mr. Pineda releases his slider over the top of his Index finger, Mr. Pineda will have pain in his pitching elbow.

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0215.  Darvish to test arm with longer throwing session
MLB.com
March 19, 2016

SURPRISE, AZ: Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who is a year removed from Tommy John surgery, is getting ready to ramp up his throwing program.

Darvish threw 18 pitches during another bullpen session on Saturday, and pitching coach Doug Brocail said it went much better than on Thursday.

"He was really good today," Brocail said. "He threw all his pitches, and it was the best slider I've seen this spring. Today, it was extremely good in the zone. His cutter was good.

"He wasn't scheduled to throw today. I wanted to give him two days off and throw more pitches. But he felt a little choppy the other day, a little lethargic. He said having two days off wasn't good. He didn't want to do that again and I'm good with that."

Darvish threw nine fastballs and nine offspeed pitches. Brocail wants him to increase to 30 pitches on Monday and have 24 be fastballs.

"Our next two weeks is about building arm strength and seeing how the arm responds," Brocail said.


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     Ranger pitching coach, Doug Brocail, said:

01. "Yu Darvish was really good today."
02. "Mr. Darvish threw all his pitches."
03. "Mr. Darvish's slider was the best I've seen this spring."
04. "Today, it was extremely good in the zone."
05. "His cutter was good."
06. "Mr. Darvish wasn't scheduled to throw today."
07. "I wanted to give him two days off and throw more pitches."
08. "But Mr. Darvish felt a little choppy the other day, a little lethargic."
09. "Mr. Darvish having two days off wasn't good."
10. "Mr. Darvish didn't want to do that again and I'm good with that."
11. "Our next two weeks is about building arm strength and seeing how Mr. Darvish's arm responds."

     Mr. Darvish releases his cutter and slider over the top of his Index finger and has not learned how to pendulum swing his pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from his medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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0216.  Maddon says Lester's bone chip news to him
Chicago Sun Times
March 20, 2016

MESA, AZ: Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday he wasn’t aware of the bone chip in Jon Lester’s pitching elbow that has likely been there for much of the left-hander’s career.

And he doesn’t care.

Even though the nature of that condition suggests the chip may suddenly dislodge and create an injury that requires surgery?

“And you never know when a young pitcher’s going to have Tommy John surgery,” Maddon said. “I don’t concern myself with stuff like that. Nothing I can do about it. You go play, and if there’s an issue with it, you attack the issue and you move on forward from there. Right now I think he looks great.”

The existence of the bone chip was first reported in a soon-to-be-released book by Jeff Passan, who refers to it as a “little grenade float[ing] near his ligament.”

Two days after noting it, Lester addressed it with media after his spring training start Sunday.

“Regardless of what an MRI shows or anything like that, you can throw a pitch and blow out,” he said. “It’s the risk of the game.

“I think if it was a serious issue, the contract that I signed probably wouldn’t be what it was,” he added, referring to the six-year, $155 million deal the Cubs gave him, with full knowledge of the chip.

Lester has not gone on the disabled list for anything related to his elbow and has made at least 31 starts in eight consecutive seasons (with more than 200 innings in seven of those).

Team president Theo Epstein downplayed the potential issue Friday. In the book, he is quoted saying: “The chip doesn’t bother me at all. It’s not going to be debilitating. It can only [screw] you for part of the season with bad timing.”

Which, obviously, would be the reason for concern in a season as anticipated and significant for the Cubs as this one is.

“There’s stuff that every other pitcher in this game has to manage,” Lester said. “And we all know that there’s partial tears and ligament weaknesses and bone chips and any other thing you can imagine that’s probably wrong with us. But it’s all about what you can do effectively on that mound.”


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     Cubs baseball pitcher, Jon Lester, said:

01. "I have a bone chip (piece of hyaline cartilage) for much of my career."
02. "I don’t care."
03. “Regardless of what an MRI shows or anything like that, I can throw a pitch and blow out.”
04. “It’s the risk of the game."
05. “I think if it was a serious issue, the contract that I signed probably wouldn’t be what it was.”
06. "The Cub management had full knowledge of the chip."
07. “There’s stuff that every other pitcher in this game has to manage.”
08. "We all know that there’s partial tears and ligament weaknesses and bone chips and any other thing you can imagine that’s probably wrong with us."
09. "But it’s all about what you can do effectively on that mound.”

     Mr. Lester banged his olecranon process into his olecranon fossa and broke a piece of hyaline cartilage.

     It is easy to remove.

     To prevent banging their olecranon process into their olecranon fossa, baseball pitchers need to release their breaking pitches under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger.

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0217.  0223.  Email to Jeff Passan

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hi Jeff,

     In my review of baseball pitchers that suffer pitching injuries, I read the March 20, 2016 Chicago Sun Times.

     The sportswriter that wrote that article said: "The existence of the bone chip was first reported in a soon-to-be-released book by Jeff Passan, who refers to it as a “little grenade float[ing] near his ligament.”

     Bone chips are actually pieces of hyaline cartilage caused by the olecranon process banging into the olecranon fossa when baseball pitchers release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger.

     If you watch the second segment 'Research Begins' of my Baseball Pitching Instructional Video that, in 2006, I put on-line for all to watch without charge, then you would learn what causes 'bone chips,' bone spurs, loss of extension and flexion ranges of motion in the pitching elbow and fracturing the olecranon process.

     After my 1967 rookie baseball season, I lost 12 degrees of extension and 12 degrees of flexion.

     When I took X-rays, I learned that banging my olecranon process into the olecranon fossa prevented me from fully straightening my pitching elbow.

     Then, ironically, by contracting the Brachialis muscle to prevent the olecranon process from banging into the olecranon fossa, the coronoid process of the Brachialis muscle grew longer so I could no longer fully bend my pitching elbow.

     As a Kinesiologist, I immediately found the culprit.

     My baseball pitcher coach taught me to release my slider over the top of my Index finger such that I outwardly rotated my pitching forearm and pointed the thumb of my pitching hand upward.

     To prevent all the pitching elbow injuries, baseball pitchers need to learn how to inwardly rotate their pitching forearm and point the thumb of their pitching hand downward when they release all types of pitches.

     To point the thumb of the pitching hand downward, baseball pitchers need to contract the Pronator Teres muscle.

     The Pronator Teres muscle not only inwardly rotates the pitching forearm, it also flexes the pitching elbow. By flexing the pitching forearm, the Pronator Teres muscle prevents the olecranon process from banging into the olecranon fossa.

     Since the first baseball pitcher threw a curve ball, 'bone chips' became a part of all baseball pitchers that release their breaking pitches over the top of their Index finger.

     Sorry, but you are nowhere near the first person to report 'bone chips' and more.

     After 1968, I pronated the releases of my slider, my screwball my fastballs and, as a result, I never suffered any pitching elbow injuries and could throw as much as I wanted including pitching 208 innings in 106 championship games.

     Sincerely,

Dr. Mike Marshall


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0218.  Bone Chip

Great to hear from you, Doc.

I am indeed aware that bone chips often are made of hyaline cartilage. There are certainly instances where they're small pieces of bone.

The first bone chip surgery actually wasn't even on a pitcher. It was Pepper Martin.

You know I've read all your stuff, Doc. I always appreciate hearing from you, though.

Hope everything is well.

-- Jeff


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Hi Jeff,

     I love it when you talk anatomy and Kinesiology. I look forward to reading your 'bone chip' article.

     You are the only sportswriter that tries.

     Bone chips or hyaline cartilage pieces, we have to teach baseball pitchers how to stop banging the olecranon process into the olecranon fossa when they release their breaking pitches.

     The Pronator Teres muscle is the solution for baseball pitchers stopping banging the olecranon process into the olecranon fossa and preventing injury to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

     To prevent all pitching arm injuries, we have to teach baseball pitchers how to use the part of the Latissimus Dorsi that attaches to the bicipital groove, the Triceps Brachii muscle and the Pronator Teres muscle and how to rotate their hips and shoulders forward over their glove foot.

     I have to find someone with creditability that understands that my baseball pitching motion prevents all pitching injuries and increases release velocity and consistency and enables baseball pitchers to master the wide variety of high-quality pitches baseball pitchers need to compete against the four types of baseball batters.

     I guess that when baseball pitchers fracture their olecranon process, we might be able to say that was a bone chip.

     Sincerely,

Mike

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0219.  Norris exits start with lower back tightness
MLB.com
March 22, 2016

LAKELAND, FL:  Daniel Norris might have the most promising arm in Tigers camp this Spring Training. His back, however, could keep him from breaking camp in Detroit's rotation.

For the second time in four days, a lower-back issue has scratched or halted Norris from a scheduled outing. This time, he had to leave Tuesday's 16-1 loss to the Blue Jays after 25 pitches and six batters.

The Tigers classified Norris' injury as lower-back tightness.

"It seems to be [a recurrence], pending test results," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Even if tests show Norris is fine, he faces the challenge of building up his pitch count to regular-season readiness with just two starts left.

Asked if this affects Norris' chances of cracking the rotation, Ausmus was honest.

"It doesn't help them," Ausmus said, "even just from a pitch-count perspective."

Norris pitched on Tuesday against his old club because he was scratched from his previously scheduled outing on Saturday with the same injury. He felt fine early on Tuesday before the issue flared up again.

The 22-year-old southpaw retired the first batter he faced, but none of the next five. Jose Bautista battled Norris for nine pitches, fouling off four consecutive two-strike pitches, before taking a fastball just off the plate and another one inside for a walk. That sequence might have been where Norris aggravated his back.

"Actually, his velocity was real strong for his first 10 pitches," Ausmus said, "and then you could tell he didn't feel quite right. He said it tightened up as it went."

Four pitches later, Troy Tulowitzki jumped a fastball for a three-run homer. Norris didn't turn to watch its path to the left-field berm, possibly not so much out of frustration but out of physical aggravation.

Norris gave up a Chris Colabello double after Tulowitzki's homer, then fell behind 3-0 to Justin Smoak. Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand visited Norris, who was then pulled from the game after recording just one out and facing six batters. Norris walked gingerly with Rand straight to the Tigers' clubhouse in the right-field corner.


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     The article said:

01. "Daniel Norris has a lower-back issue."
02. "Mr. Norris had to leave a spring training game after 25 pitches and six batters."
03. "The Tiger Medical Staff classified Mr. Norris' injury as lower-back tightness."

     To prevent lower back tightness, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulder forward together over their glove foot.

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0220.  Graveman intent on using changeup more
MLB.com
March 22, 2016

TEMPE, AZ: Kendall Graveman tried out his changeup on a pair of right-handed power hitters on Tuesday afternoon, a scene that rarely occurred during the 2015 season.

Perfecting that pitch against righties has been on his to-do list, and the right-handed Graveman managed to get weak contact with it early and often against the Angels, inducing shallow fly balls from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in a 6-5 loss.

Graveman threw the pitch less than 4 percent of the time when facing right-handed batters last year.

"I think it's come a long way," Graveman said. "[Catcher Stephen] Vogt really emphasized that today, and I think we did what we wanted to do and got some weak contact, especially early.

"It's one of those things, you just use it now to get more comfortable with it, and I think today helped with that mentality of, 'Hey, you can throw it and you can be successful with it.'"

"The changeup to righties is a huge weapon for him," Vogt said. "I'm glad to see him use it and use it effectively."

Graveman gave the A's 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits -- including a two-run homer to Andrelton Simmons-- with two walks and one strikeout.

"He kept the ball down better," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I thought his stuff was better today, down in the zone and moving a bit more, and he had a bit of a gap with his changeup and his fastball."

Vogt particularly liked Graveman's four-seam fastball and was pleased to see improvement from his breaking ball, which drew a handful of swing and misses.

"The other thing he did too was kind of go back and forth a little better today," he said. "I think, with the way his stuff moves, sometimes we can get really one-sided with the plate, and I thought he did a good job of going in, going away."


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     A's field manager, Bob Melvin, said:

01. "Kendall Graveman kept the ball down better."
02, "I thought Mr. Graveman's stuff was better today."
03. "Mr. Graveman kept the ball down in the zone and moving a bit more."
04. "Mr. Graveman had a bit of a gap with his changeup and his fastball."
05. "The other thing he did too was kind of go back and forth a little better today."
06. "With the way Mr. Graveman's stuff moves, sometimes we can get really one-sided with the plate, and I thought he did a good job of going in, going away."

     When baseball batters anticipate a change-up, change-ups are ten miles per hour slower fastball.

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0221.  Harris hire part of Pirates' continuing search for outside-the-box thinking
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
March 22, 2016

BRADENTON, FL: Neal Huntington and Chip Kelly grew up 20 miles apart in New Hampshire — Kelly is five years Huntington's senior — yet the Granite State natives had never met. But they had admired each other's professional work from a distance.

The Pirates are viewed as a forward-thinking organization, and Kelly's Eagles were regarded as perhaps the most cutting-edge team in the NFL, and most controversial, not just in regard to their up-tempo offense but for their attempts to maximize player performance.

Last August, they met and pulled back the curtains on each other's worlds.

The Pirates were in Philadelphia for a series with the Phillies, just down Pattison Avenue from where the Eagles were holding training camp. A handful of Pirates officials, including Huntington, observed a practice and visited with Eagles officials. The two organizations also met at the Pirates' Federal Street headquarters last year, where they “shared notes,” according to Huntington.

Huntington observed that football is “light years ahead of teaching” compared to baseball, citing, for example, the intricacy of schemes and technique. “It's not what are they teaching but how they are teaching,” he said.

In an email exchange with the Tribune-Review, Kelly said “What Neal and Clint (Hurdle) have put together with the Pirates certainly caught our eye.” Kelly, now with the San Francisco 49ers, said he's spent time with the Navy Seals and is interested in studying any “high-performing organization” regardless of the field.

“We are always searching for better ways to do things,” Huntington said. “As a result, we like to connect with other organizations whether it is college or pro sports. ... It's an exchange of information. How do they do things?”

So when the Eagles fired Kelly and members of his staff this offseason, the Pirates approached and hired Kelly's former “chief of staff” James Harris in February. Harris had made an impression upon the Pirates during their meetings. He was an assistant under Kelly since their days at Oregon, working in a hybrid role where he managed nutrition and performance, and helped athletes with off-the-field matters.

“James was a guy that always fascinated us,” Huntington said. “He had a large role with the Eagles on their performance team. He's also an avid learner. He loves to study leadership and driving culture.”

When was the last time Harris played baseball?

“That's a good question. I don't know,” Huntington said. “It wasn't relevant. Leadership, culture, and physical performance are things that cross all of sports.”

The Pirates continue to look beyond baseball for competitive advantages. Last summer, they hired Chris Johnson, a member of the Golden State Warriors' performance staff.

“It's maximizing performance,” Huntington said. “How do we help this player get better every day and perform as consistently as possible?”

How important are Harris and Johnson? The Pirates have made each unavailable for media interviews.

The Pirates were fascinated by Harris' background.

He walked on at Nebraska, where he earned a master's in nutrition and health sciences.

In 2001, he became Nebraska's coordinator of sports nutrition. According to Nebraska's Web site, his duties included: “body composition and frame analysis, nutrition education, meal planning, supplementation and counseling for all Husker athletes.”

He joined Oregon in 2007, hired by Kelly. Oregon advanced to the BCS title game in 2010, and in '13 the Eagles hired Kelly, who brought Harris with him.

According to the Washington Post, under Kelly and Harris, Eagles players' morning routines included “soreness and mood surveys,” urine tests and results from heart rate readings. Some saw the practices as too intrusive. Players also were lectured on the importance of sleep and hydration, and the adverse effects of alcohol and marijuana.

“To us, success is all about the preparation,” Kelly wrote. “James was an integral part of what we were able to accomplish at both Oregon and in Philadelphia.”

The Pirates have taken notice. They have minor leaguers track their fluid intake and hydration. In 2014, the club introduced the Zephyr BioHarness on a volunteer basis into the major league clubhouse to monitor players' heart rate. Mark Melancon has his blood analyzed, and is looking forward to working with Harris. Last spring, the Pirates reduced their players' playing time after studying the rest patterns of the NBA's Warriors.

Harris is working alongside Pirates trainer Todd Tomczyk and stretch coach Brendon Huttman, leaders of what the Pirates refer to as their “performance team.”

Tomczyk believes nutrition and exercise science transcends sport.

Evidence? The club's 12,000-square-foot weight training facility at Pirate City includes a 20-yard strip of field turf complete with a football gridiron. Outside, the Pirates measure prospects' vertical jumping ability.

“It all begins with ‘Why?' ” Tomczyk said. “Why do athletes move the way they move? ... We've been asking the question of ‘Why?' for the five years I've been here.”

Tomczyk said Harris already is making an impact.

“He adds, ‘I experienced this with the Eagles, did you guys think about it this way?' ” Tomczyk said. “The baseball experience, I don't think (matters).”

The Pirates' interest in Harris went beyond maximizing on-field performance. He also helped Oregon and Eagles players with off-the-field matters.

“Preparing for life as a professional athlete doesn't end in the practice facility,” Kelly wrote. “I expect him to have a similar impact in the Pirates organization.”

Said former Oregon running back LaMichael James to The Oregonian of Harris: “If you get into a jam, you call James.”

They called James for issues ranging from managing money, to frustration with coaches and relationships off the field.

Huntington has visited other Division I football and NFL teams, typically during their training camps when coinciding with a Pirates' road trip. The schools?

“The other teams will remain nameless,” Huntington said.

What is apparent is the Pirates will look anywhere for an edge.


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      The article said:

01. "The Pirates approached and hired Kelly's former “chief of staff” James Harris."
02. "Mr. Harris had made an impression upon the Pirates during their meetings."
03. "Mr. Harris was an assistant under Kelly working in a hybrid role where he managed nutrition and performance."
04. "Mr. Harris also helped athletes with off-the-field matters."

     Mr. Harris does everything except teach and train the skills that baseball players need to succeed.

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0222.  Injury will keep Nolin off Opening Day roster
MLB.com
March 22, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Left-hander Sean Nolin is in the midst of a seven-day shutdown due to elbow soreness and will not be an option for the Brewers' Opening Day roster, according to manager Craig Counsell.

Nolin is the second bullpen candidate removed from the running because of injury. He will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list with right-hander Yhonathan Barrios, who said Tuesday morning that he was still waiting for the second opinion on his right shoulder injury.

"[Nolin] is not going to be part of the choices we have to make," Counsell said.

Nolin, claimed off waivers from the A's on Feb. 22, last pitched on March 14 against the Dodgers. He has yet to undergo an MRI scan, Counsell said.

Nolin was one of three left-handers vying for a spot in the bullpen alongside incumbent Will Smith. The others -- Chris Capuano and Franklin Morales  -- are both non-roster invitees, and Nolin had a further advantage in that he was out of options.

"We thought [Nolin] was going to get past it," Counsell said, "but it was smart to be more conservative with this."

Besides Barrios and Nolin, Brewers outfielder Rymer Liriano will also open the season on the DL. He suffered facial fractures when he was hit by a pitch Sunday.

"It can change so fast," Counsell said. "The last couple of days, we've had changes to the decisions we're going to make, the different ingredients that go into the decisions. That's why you wait to make decisions, because a day changes everything."


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     The article said:

01. "Sean Nolin has elbow soreness.
02. "Mr. Nolin will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list."
03. "Yhonathan Barrios has a pitching shoulder injury."

     To prevent elbow soreness, baseball pitchers need to pronate the releases of all types of pitches.

     To prevent pitching injury, baseball pitchers need to turn the back of their pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0223.  Five starting pitchers who show signs of getting injured this season
Washington Post
March 23, 2016

Injuries plagued a number of high profile starters last season. Yu Darvish, Cliff Lee and Marcus Stroman all had to be sidelined while starting pitchers missed 8,872 total days on the disabled list in 2015.

There are warning signs to predict some of the injuries that befall a pitcher, with a prior trip to the disabled list being one of the strongest indicators. Pitchers who rely heavily on sliders and curveballs are also at a heightened risk. Jeff Zimmmerman found that pitchers who relied on a slider for more than 30 percent of their pitches found themselves on the DL the following season 46 percent of the time, higher than the 39 percent rate for all pitchers who tossed 120 or more innings the year prior. The curveball especially causes a tremendous amount of strain on the arm. Among pitchers who used the curve in more than 25 percent of their repertoire, 51 percent of the time.

A decreased command of the strike zone is another red flag. Pitchers who throw 60 percent or less of their pitches for strikes, walk a lot of batters and/or miss the strike zone often are also at risk.

With this in mind, here are five starting pitchers who are likely to be on the DL at some point this season:

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

Probability of injury: 29.3 percent

Bumgarner has won 18 games in back-to-back seasons, solidifying him among the game’s top aces. But an ever-increasing reliance on the curve in addition to using the slider for a pitcher who logs more than 200 innings a season, even one only 26 years old, is bound to take its toll.

Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

Probability of injury: 31.0 percent

Archer wasn’t expected to be the Rays No. 1 starter in spring training of last season, but he got the nod on opening day and rewarded the franchise by going 12-13 with a 3.23 ERA, striking out 252 batters in 212 innings. However, he relies on the slider for 39.1 percent of his pitches, which is a leading indicator for future Tommy John surgery.

Collin McHugh, Houston Astros

Probability of injury: 35.6 percent

The good news is that McHugh, a 19-game winner last season, no longer throws the sinker that was ineffective during his time with Colorado. The bad news is he still throws his curve 23.4 percent of the time. He also found the strike zone less frequently in 2015 (45.2 percent) than ever before, indicating possible troubles ahead.

Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres

Ross was mediocre last season, providing the Padres with a quality start — at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed — in just 64 percent of his starts, and the very pitch that makes him effective, his slider, could also be his downfall.

Batters hit just .195 against the his slider with 141 strikeouts in 338 at-bats ending on the pitch, but such a high rate of usage could see Ross spending time on the DL, like he did in 2013 when he suffered a left shoulder subluxation while batting.

Michael Pineda, New York Yankees

Pineda, who throws a slider a third of the time, spent 28 days on the DL in 2015 for a forearm strain. The 27-year-old lost some of his command last season (strikeout-to-walk ratio went from 8.43 in 2014 to 7.43 in 2015) because of a spike in the number of walks issued per nine innings and also threw 160.2 innings in the majors, his highest since 2011.

His slider is also getting hit for power more often, which means he will either throw it less, thus reducing his propensity for injury, or continue to rely on it, leading to a sub-par season.


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     The article said:

01. "There are warning signs to predict some of the injuries that befall a pitcher."
02. "A prior trip to the disabled list is one of the strongest indicators."
03. "Pitchers who rely heavily on sliders and curveballs are also at a heightened risk."
04. "Pitchers that rely on sliders for more than 30 percent of their pitches found themselves on the DL the following season."
05. "46 percent of the time, higher than the 39 percent rate for all pitchers who tossed 120 or more innings the year prior."
06. "The curveball especially causes a tremendous amount of strain on the arm."
07. "Among pitchers that use curves in more than 25 percent of their repertoire, 51 percent of the time."
08. "A decreased command of the strike zone is another red flag."
09. "Pitchers who throw 60 percent or less of their pitches for strikes, walk a lot of batters and/or miss the strike zone often are also at risk."

     When baseball pitchers release their cutters, sliders and curveball over the top of their Index finger, they bang their olecranon process into their olecranon fossa.

     To prevent banging their olecranon process from banging into their olecranon fossa, baseball pitchers need to release their cutters, sliders and curveballs under the Ring finger side of their Middle finger.

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0224.  Hughes day to day with left lat strain
MLB.com
March 23, 2016

BRADENTON, FL: Pirates reliever Jared Hughes is being treated for a left latissimus muscle strain, the club announced Wednesday. Hughes has not pitched in a Grapefruit League game in a week and is considered day to day.

Hughes has struggled in four Spring Training appearances so far, allowing eight runs on 11 hits, including three home runs. The reliable ground-ball machine most recently pitched on March 16, when he gave up three runs on three hits in one inning against the Orioles.

Hughes said the pain came suddenly during that outing, but he pitched through it. The muscle continued to tighten up afterward. Even though it's his non-throwing side, Hughes said it's still painful to throw.

"New thing. Never felt it before. Last outing, throwing, felt it, let them know and we're taking care of it," Hughes said. "You've got to take care of that, find a way to treat it, get it healed then build it back up so it never happens again."

Hughes, 30, posted a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings over 76 appearances out of Pittsburgh's bullpen last year, filling a variety of roles from seventh-inning setup man to mid-inning fireman.

It is unclear how long Hughes will be sidelined. The Pirates prefer to give each of their relievers a multi-inning appearance during Spring Training, and Hughes has not yet had one. The club is scheduled to break camp and head north in nine days.

Will Hughes be ready by Opening Day?

"That's our goal. That's why we will evaluate day to day, hour to hour," Tomczyk said. "We're less than two weeks from Opening Day, and we'll see where tomorrow takes us."


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     The article said:

01. "Jared Hughes has strained the glove arm side of his latissimus muscle strain."
02. "The club considers Mr. Hughes day to day."
03. "Mr. Hughes' pain came suddenly, but he pitched through it."
04. "The muscle continued to tighten up afterward."
05. "Even though it's his non-throwing side, Mr. Hughes said it's still painful to throw."

     The Latissimus Dorsi muscle has two attachment. One attachment is to the inferior angle of the Scapula bone and the other to the floor of the bicipital groove in the head of the Humerus bone.

     Mr. Hughes has irritated the inferior angle of the Scapula bone.

     When baseball pitchers bend forward at the waist, the inferior angle attachment pulls the Scapula bone downward.

     To prevent irritating the Latissimus Dorsi that attaches to the inferior angle, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0225.  Is a six-man rotation imminent for MLB?
Fan Sided
March 23, 2016

With the MLB season approaching quickly, it is time again to wonder what big name pitchers will need Tommy John surgery in 2016. Over the past few years, many key pitchers have fallen victim to this procedure, including the likes of Jose Fernandez, Yu Darvish and Matt Harvey.

Since the conclusion of the 2011 season, there have been 125 major league players that have required the surgery. On top of this, are many pitchers that have sustained an injury to their Ulnar Collateral Ligament in their throwing arm and may well need the surgery sometime in the future, such as Masahiro Tanaka. With so many players getting injured, measures are already in place to attempt to help end this pandemic of injuries.

In recent years, the solution seems to lie in decreasing the amount of innings and/or pitches a pitcher throws in a season. Despite this, there have still been years, such as 2012, where 40 or more players required the surgical procedure to continue their baseball careers.

Some players have even undergone this procedure multiple times in their careers, such as Joakim Soria or Brian Wilson. The weirdest part about these pitchers, as well, is that they are relievers. Why would the relievers, who naturally throw less innings and less pitches than the starters, fall prey to this injury multiple times?

One logical conclusion that could be drawn is simply the limitation on innings and pitches for the starters puts more pressure on the relievers to take on more innings and more pitches. As well, there is such a thing as high pressure pitches. These are simply pitches that need to be thrown more precisely and faster during times of intensity in a game, such as a bases-loaded jam in a tie game. A pitcher may not be putting as much stress on their body during low pressure innings because they know that each pitch does not mean as much if they are winning a game by a large margin.

Besides the amount of high leverage pitches, the body needs time to heal between pitching appearances. Currently in the Japanese baseball leagues, starting pitchers throw about every seven days, allowing their body more time to heal in between starts. Take Masahiro Tanaka as an example. During his time in Japan, he would throw once every six or seven days in a game. In that time period, he had very little injury drama. Within the first year of coming to MLB, he’s dealt with a UCL injury that is still present to this day, though he has evaded surgery thus far.

The entire motion of pitching a baseball brings about a lot of stress on the throwing arm, especially with nearly all of these guys throwing in the 90s and some even touching 100 mph. Add on to this that they are starting every 5th game and throwing a bullpen session around halfway between starts, there is very little time off for these pitchers during the brutally long MLB season.

Lets look at the average pitcher’s schedule in MLB for a quick second. They usually report to camp around middle to late February. They start throwing bullpen sessions around this same time. Then, they pitch through spring training and the regular season, taking them to the end of September or early October.

Let’s say their team makes the playoffs and wins the World Series. That is taking them through the end of October or early November. As well, if they are the ace of their pitching staff, they may be working off less rest as we usually see in the playoffs with the rotation usually slimming down to our or even three men in some cases.

Finally the offseason arrives, except players simply cannot avoid doing any baseball or baseball related activity as they know that they will lose their acquired endurance and/or muscle memory to some extent if they just stop cold turkey for an extended period. A pitcher might take a short few weeks off and then get into the weight room and on the field for practice drills for basically the entire offseason. These guys are throwing a baseball or working their throwing arm A LOT over the course of the year with minimal break times.

Fans are seeing more and more now that teams are, at the very least, considering adding a sixth man to the rotation to take the stress off of other starters. The Yankees considered by even implementing it for a short time since injuries to Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia and having Ivan Nova come back from TJ Surgery. The Mets used a six man rotation for a bit of last year as well for nearly identical reasons.

Whether or not people think it is a good idea to go with a six man rotation, it seems to be the new trend in MLB as teams and players are trying to find out everything they can in an attempt to eliminate the Tommy John epidemic. Whether or not it will truly work is a different story, as their are numerous variables to consider.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "In recent years, the solution seems to lie in decreasing the amount of innings and/or pitches a pitcher throws in a season."
02. "Despite this, there have still been years, such as 2012, where 40 or more players required the surgical procedure to continue their baseball careers."
03. "The entire motion of pitching a baseball brings about a lot of stress on the throwing arm, especially with nearly all of these guys throwing in the 90s and some even touching 100 mph."
04. "Add on to this that they are starting every 5th game and throwing a bullpen session around halfway between starts, there is very little time off for these pitchers during the brutally long MLB season."

     To prevent injuring the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, baseball pitchers of all ages have to pendulum swing their pitching arm downward, backward and upward to driveline height in one, smooth and continuous movement while contracting the muscles that arise from the medial epicondyle before, during and after the acceleration phase of my baseball pitching motion.

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***********************************************************************************************

     On Sunday, April 03, 2016, I posted the following questions and answers.

***********************************************************************************************

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0226.  Email from Jeff Passan

That's what James Buffi was doing! And then ... the Dodgers hired him.

The book is out April 5.

You're in it.

And I'll tell you what, Doc:

While I don't agree with everything you say, and you're too damn stubborn for your own good, so much of what you've been preaching for decades is finally being accepted. And for that you should be proud.

Even if they're not willing to go Full Marshall, the acceptance of weighted implements, of muscles' potential ability to stem injuries, of force and blocking and the kinetics of the pitching delivery, are all rooted in your work.

Maybe pitchers aren't throwing like you want them to, but your fingerprints are all over baseball, and it's going to make it for the better.


-- Jeff

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Hi Jeff,

     As I said, you are the only sportswriter that tries.

     When I hear Hybrid Marshall baseball pitching motion, I know that their appeasement will cause pitching injuries and/or loss of release velocity and consistency and their ability to master a wide variety of high-quality baseball pitches.

     We have to teach baseball pitchers of all ages how to pronate the releases of all pitches, including their breaking pitches.

     Instead of the Pectoralis Major muscle, we have to teach baseball pitchers to use their Latissimus Dorsi muscle. That prevents all pitching shoulder injuries.

     With the Latissimus Dorsi muscle applying force in straight lines toward home plate, for the first time in 130 years of the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion, baseball pitchers will be able to fully use their Triceps Brachii muscle.

     The Pronator Teres muscle is the answer to all pitching elbow injuries.

     Lastly, baseball pitchers have to stop rotating their hips and shoulders forward separately over the pitching foot over pitching rubber and start rotating their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

     In Q/A #0212, I presented a Master thesis by three graduate students at the University of the Incarnate Word that compared my baseball pitching motion with the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion.

     I tried to get Dr. James Buffi to compare Jeff Sparks version of my baseball pitching motion with the 'traditional' baseball motion, but he has not been able to do that.

     These three graduate students, including Mike Farrenkopf that trained with me in Zephyrhills, FL, showed that my baseball pitching motion generates maximum force with minimum stress.

     Sincerely,

Mike

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0227.  Nationals to shut down Arroyo, try rehab on shoulder
Associated Press
March 19, 2016

VIERA, FL: After being told his right rotator cuff was "significantly torn" and calling 30 of his closest friends to tell them it looked as if his career was over, Washington Nationals pitcher Bronson Arroyo received some good news Saturday.

Although there is still some damage and inflammation, team doctors compared his most recent MRI to one taken in 2014 and said there is a chance he will still be able to pitch after going through rehabilitation.

The Nationals announced Saturday the 39-year-old right-hander will be shut down for up to two weeks, after which he will begin a shoulder strengthening program and a throwing program. The rehab process is expected to take four to six weeks, at which time Arroyo will be re-evaluated.

Arroyo has not pitched in the majors since June 14, 2014, after which he underwent Tommy John surgery. He also had a partially torn rotator cuff repaired at that time.

"It was a good prognosis," Arroyo said. "The read they made was better than the early one. The early one, I thought I was cashed out and I was coming to the ballpark to retire. They look at it now and say it's not a perfect shoulder, but it's not worse than what we've seen other guys pitch with."

n the majors, Agh the rehab to find out. If his injury had required surgery, he would have retired fe said. "I was in the weight room as a 5- and 6-year-old kid, pounding out weights. I've got DVDs of me as an 8-year-old kid, (weighing) 50 pounds, squatting 250 pounds. It's like a joke."

"I don't know anything other than this. A couple of more months is no big deal," he said.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who managed Arroyo for six seasons in Cincinnati, seemed optimistic the right-hander will pitch for Washington.

"He's going to have an effect on this team before the season's out," Baker said. "Before this season's out, we're going to need Bronson."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The article said:

01. "Bronson Arroyo's pitching shoulder has some damage and inflammation."
02. "Team doctors said that Mr. Arroyo has a chance to be able to pitch."
03. "In 20 14, Mr. Arroyo had Tommy John surgery."
04. "At the same time, Mr. Arroyo also had a partially torn rotator cuff repaired."
05. "Mr. Arroyo has not pitched in the majors since June 14, 2014."
06. "The Nationals Medical Staff shut Mr. Arroyo down for up to two weeks."
07. "Then, Mr. Arroyo will begin a shoulder strengthening and throwing program."
08. "The Nationals Medical Staff expects Mr. Arroyo rehabitation to take four to six weeks."

     Unless Mr. Arroyo learns how to turn the back of his pitching upper arm to face toward home plate and rotates his hips and shoulders forward together over his glove foot, Mr. Arroyo will never pitch again.

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0228.  Gray has abdominal strain, no timetable on his return
Denver Post
March 23, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Rockies right-hander Jon Gray has an abdominal strain, the Rockies confirmed Wednesday morning after reviewing the results of an MRI.

The club has not said when Gray will be able to return to action.

Gray abruptly left Tuesday's Cactus League game against Milwaukee in the first inning.

"He felt something," manager Walt Weiss said following the Rockies' 6-5 victory over the Brewers. "We don't know the extent of it. ... We are always going to use caution in a situation like that."

Gray had given up a double and a walk in the first inning when he fielded a come-backer to the mound. He wheeled to make a throw to second base to begin a double play, but the ball sailed high into center field. Gray appeared to be fine before attempting the double play, with his fastball reaching 97 mph. Weiss, however, said he didn't think the injury occurred on Gray's wayward throw to second.

"I'm not sure when it happened," Weiss said. "He (told us) he was feeling it on certain pitches. When you hear that, you just take him out."

Gray, 24, was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. He made his major league debut late last season, finishing 0-2 with a 5.53 ERA in nine starts. Possible candidates to replace Gray in the rotation, if needed, include right-handers David Hale and Christian Bergman, and left-hander Chris Rusin.

Rusin has yet to pitch in a game this spring because of inflammation in his left index finger. Rusin is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Wednesday, when the Rockies have their only off day of the spring.


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     The article said:

01. "Jon Gray has an abdominal strain."
02. "A MRI confirmed the diagnosis."
03. "Mr. Gray abruptly left the game in the first inning."
04. "Mr. Gray fielded a come-backer to the mound."
05. "Mr. Gray wheeled to make a throw to second base to begin a double play."
06. "However, Mr. Gray threw the ball high into center field."

     To prevent abdominal strains, baseball pitchers need to stand tall and rotate their hips and shoulders forward together over their glove foot.

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0229.  Ohio University's pitchers incorporate off-the-field workouts into keeping their arms healthy
Athens Post
March 23, 2016

The pitcher waits for his signal from the catcher. He settles himself down, winds up to throw the pitch and releases with maximum velocity.

The length of a pitching appearance can vary depending on whether the pitcher is a starter, middle reliever or closer. An appearance might last anywhere from one at-bat to a complete game. Although the pitch count is unequal, the cool down — the post-pitching workout — is equally important for all pitchers.

After pitchers finish their appearances, they usually won't sit in the dugout. Instead, they venture to the bullpen and cool down, so their throwing arms won’t lose strength throughout the season.

The pitchers also warm up before practices and games.

“Its very important," said right-handed reliever Jake Roehn. "It helps our stamina a lot, especially for starters who have to last longer."

Over time, there has been more awareness for the importance of pitchers protecting and preserving their throwing arms. Within the last 30 years, the National Pitching Association has helped increase that awareness.

Ohio baseball uses similar techniques to those the NPA advocates, in the hope of keeping the pitching staff fresh and prepared for each game.

THE WARM-UP

Many pitchers talk about their pregame rituals or superstitions, but few ever mention their physical preparation, known as the dynamic warm-up.

Dean Taylor, a National Pitching Association representative in Ohio, said the organization has its own four-component protocol for the dynamic warm-up.

The first component is an arm care and recovery program, which increases the blood flow in the arm. Second is a dynamic movement to warm up the body and loosen up the muscles. This dynamic movement typically includes carioca, high knees and power skips, and it should emphasize the front and back of the body.

Third comes the functional strength component, which focuses on body weight movement, exclusively with the arm.

The final component is joint integrity, which involves overloading and underloading the body. This trains the body to slow down and speed up with ease.

Ohio uses exercises like these, but Brent Pourciau of Top Velocity, a pitching program in New Orleans, has developed his own theories on how a pitcher should warm up and cool down.

He started working with pitchers after he blew out his rotator cuff in college. Now, he is a biomechanics consultant with the MLB and the owner of Guerilla Baseball Academy.

“You should start your day off with moving your body dynamically,” Pourciau said. “Then, guys could foam roll. Some guys like to do it and some don’t, but what it does is spread out the tissue around the muscle which usually clumps up. So that way the muscle and body can perform highly.”

THE COOL-DOWN

After the pitchers exit the mound, they must perform exercises to keep their arm and stamina healthy.

Ohio coach Rob Smith said his strategy for cooling down pitchers is an approach that's gradually transformed over time.

"Essentially, it's a combination of flexibility work, body strength work, plyometric work, core work and arm care," Smith said.

The NPA and Pourciau have similar beliefs, but Pourciau prefers to approach the cool-down from the scientific side.

According to Pourciau, the starting pitcher will have more time for a cool-down because starters have more time between pitching appearances tha