AAA vs. Louisville
Typing this on the plane as we head back to Boston. Going to spend the off day with Shonda and the kids and get some things done at 38 Studios as well.
The game today went well. 6 innings, 98 pitches, 74 strikes and I felt stronger in the 6th than I did in the 1st.
The Reds AAA team was in Fort Myers and the guy they started against the Pawtucket club I learned was one of the players in the deal made between Boston and Cincy for Scott Williamson. Left handed starter with a real nice arm and a good feel for pitching from what I got to see. He threw extremely well over his three innings, surrendering one hit I think.
Tek hit every inning and had a single and a long double to deep center in his first four at bats. He looks fantastic and he’s moving better than I’ve seen him in the past 2 years. There’s something to be said for being healthy.
The leadoff hitter worked a full count and took a called third strike, fastball, on the outer half. The second hitter struck out on a 0-2 split and the third hitter went down on a 0-2 high fastball that Tek had intentionally wanted to throw up in the zone. I had decent life in the first and my split has finally begun to show itself, good signs. Fastball command was erratic from the get go today and overall it was the only thing I was unhappy with during the 6 innings.
Three up three down second inning that featured a swinging strike three on a full count changeup. First time I’ve ever thrown the pitch in that count to positive results. The change over the past three games has been immense from a mental perspective. The change up no longer feels like a pitch I need to think through, to throw. Today it was just another pitch I had, and used. I did throw some bad ones but today’s bad ones were self-inflicted mistakes.
Third inning was four up three down. The first hit of the game came on a 1-1 back door slider that never got near the back door. One of the mistakes I made all too often last year was lowering my arm slot and dragging my arm into the throw when I was throwing this pitch. What it did more times than not was because the slider to flatten out and ‘cut’ instead of break, right into the middle of the plate.
A cut moves horizontally, a break moves horizontally and vertically. The ball that cuts coming in back door to a lefty cuts to the barrel of the bat if you aren’t precise, and that’s a bad thing. It’s a pitch I could almost guarantee hitting my spots with in the past, but over the last two years not so much. So the lefty hits the back door ‘cutter’, and the next two guys go down. Fastball command isn’t changing by this time and I’m aware that what I can’t start doing is over throwing, to compensate for missing spots. It’s a mistake I’ve made for 21 years, but something I do less now than I used to. One of the hardest things to ‘unlearn’ as a young power pitcher is overthrowing. Young power pitchers, more times than not, get out of trouble facing hitters in high school and college, and the minor leagues, by throwing harder. If you throw 98mph that will work in the big leagues as well, just not as often.
To ‘overthrow’ or get more on the ball you have to ‘reach back’ (which is really the exact opposite of what you physically do since you gain velocity with extension and reach forward), which, when you do, causes you to lose command of the ball. Best way to compare it for those that understand golf is this. If you are a decent golfer you could sit on the range and hit your 7 iron however far you can hit it, pretty consistently. Now take a huge swing at the ball. Nine times out of ten the shot goes so far from where you intend it to because you’ve used an entirely different swing and swing path to exert that much more effort. Same thing with overthrowing, it’s just not as visible as it might be in a golf swing. There are two real tell tale signs of overthrowing. The first is an erratic finish to the delivery where the pitcher falls off fast and hard to his throwing side. The second is the guy that ‘stiff legs’ the throw, literally throwing against his front side and recoiling. The first is pretty normal, the second is not only less normal but incredibly bad for the shoulder. It’s one of the things that has made Glavine and Maddux Hall of Famers. Watch their deliveries. They both, most times, will finish in complete control of their bodies and in the perfect fielding position. It’s just one more reason Maddux has won 104 Gold Gloves.
Fourth inning sees me give up a run. A pretty good sized kid puts a real good swing on a 2-0 fastball that’s up on the outer half, and drives it over the wall in left for an opposite field home run. I’ll claim the wind helped, but he hit the ball a ton. I give up a double to right center on another high fastball as well. I felt bad for the defenders today because it was a real high sky and fly balls, when combining the high sky with the bad wind, were a circus. Last out of the inning is a hard ground ball to 2nd.
The last two innings go by, one more hit, but I threw a few real good changes. Got two more outs on it, both on behind in the count change ups. My split wasn’t consistent, but it certainly was better. Slider was good and bad and the change up, of which I threw 19 today, got better. Outing ends on 98 pitches as the final hitter swings through a 2-2 fastball.
Velocity was 90-92 for most of the day. Hit 94 on two different pitches in the 6th. Glad to see that I was that strong 90+ pitches into the outing. Strength wise I feel phenomenal at this point, much better than I’d thought I would. While I did throw 98 pitches I wasn’t remotely tired at the end and that’s not been the case over the last 24 months. It’s starting to feel much more like 2004 than it does 2007 from a durability standpoint. I’ve definitely got more life on everything this spring than last and my legs feel as good as they have since spring 2004.
Next start will be Friday in Ft Myers vs. Baltimore. The plan is to get the pitch count north of 100 pitches, finish the work on the spring training projects, and then go into the start on the 28th and use it as a ‘tune up’ for KC on opening day.