It’s All About the Pitching

Today Cliff Lee hit the mound for the first time since his injury last season.

Cliff Lee hits the mound for the first time since his injury
Cliff Lee hits the mound for the first time since his injury

Lee looked mostly like his “Old Self” and didn’t show any signs of discomfort, though he did not pitch very long.

It got me to thinking about the machinations that a pitcher goes through just to throw a pitch. Just look at Kenny Giles’ body position in the picture below:

Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles

Now, while that may look painful to the “Average Joe”, it works for Giles. How many other guys can hit 100? They don’t call him “Hundred Miles Giles” for nothing.

As I was running an errand between MLB and MiLB workouts, I got to thinking about injuries to pitchers and the stresses that their bodies must go through because of the force needed to throw. So when I got back to the field, I decided to film two pitchers in slow motion just to get a better idea of what might be happening. (I plan on trying this the next time I see Giles.)

This is former Thresher Perci Garner. I also filmed Kyle Bogese.

Edited to add: If you have headphones, turn up the sound on the videos…the crack of the ball smacking the mitt is astounding.

Bogese is an interesting story himself. This Trinity University graduate was discovered in a walk on try out last summer and came to Clearwater late for the Gulf Coast League. He was only one of four players that were found that way. Trinity’s story on Bogese claims he can throw at 97 mph. I can’t verify that as there are no public speed guns at the Carpenter complex.

If you study the slow motion video, you can get a little better feel of the force placed on areas such as the elbow or wrist. I thought it was interesting.

Upcoming Event: On Friday I will be talking with Jay Floyd of Phoulballz.com on his podcast at 1 p.m. (est). You can find his podcast here.

 

 

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Pitchers and Catchers Report, Day One of Phillies Spring Training 2015

This is NOT how you want to start “Spring” Training. It was only a high of 50 with 25mph winds blowing in from the North. It was sunny, but it really didn’t help very much. Sadly, tomorrow will likely be worse as there is a “hard freeze” warning here, meaning it will be under freezing for several hours. So it’s a little iffy if I will be there much tomorrow and if I am there, for how long.

The chilly weather didn’t deter the Phillies Phaithful who braved the elements to see their favorite players. Usually on the first day, the program starts with a talk to the pitchers and it traditionally was given at “Seven Mounds” or the pitching mounds behind the main complex building. Ross and I thought that they may get a late start and would have the meeting inside. We got to the complex at 11 to find that they were out at 10 and were already into the PFPs or Pitcher Fielding Practice.

Jake Diekman
Jake Diekman
Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles
Camels Looks Unamused
Hamels Looks Unamused
Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

 

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon 

The first day is always a blast for me. Baseball Ross and I have been going to Spring Training for so long that we have gotten to know a lot of the regulars and it’s almost like a family reunion. That first day is always full of handshakes, hugs and catching up.

I also got to see a few of my favorite minor leaguers, which to me is my favorite part. I’ve known a bunch of these guys for what has been their entire careers and it’s nice to be remembered for always being there.

After the MLBers were done around noon, Ross and I left to get warm and grab something to eat and on our way home we passed the complex to see some players out. We were treated by getting to watch some of our MiLBer friends pitching live batting practice.

Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso
Cord Sandberg
Cord Sandberg
Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven
Seth Rosin
Seth Rosin
Austin Wright
Austin Wright

It looks like our minor leaguers reported to camp healthy and in great shape. Carlos Alonso smacked two almost out of the park, one died half way up the fence BUT it had been hit INTO THOSE ROARING WINDS! One of the guys remarked to him, “Hey Los, how about saving some?”

Colin Kleven looked really sharp and had a really crisp breaking pitch. He left a big smile on pitching coach Steve Schrenk’s face.

That’s it from Day One.

 

 

Tyson Gillies Released.

I wasn’t surprised, I don’t think anyone could be. Approximately two weeks ago, the Phillies removed Tyson Gillies from the 40 man roster and he cleared waivers to remain with the IronPigs.

Baseball Ross and I got to see Tyson play his second to last game as an IronPig on Tuesday during our marathon trip north.
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Tyson was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade. He was one of those players that most people either loved or hated.

I have to say that he was always nice to me. From recommending a meal at a restaurant I’d never eaten at before, to always posing for a photo he was kind to me. The interaction that sticks out to me happened last summer.

Tyson always seems to find himself in trouble and last summer he apparently had “words” with the team bus driver and was suspended and sent to Clearwater for a few days. Ross and I were leaving the Carpenter complex as he was walking in. I said hello and he came over and gave me the biggest hug. He seemed so genuinely glad that someone cared.

To be fair, Tyson has had his share of troubles, from a drug charge that was later dropped, inappropriate tweets and his recent incident of destroying a bat-rack, he also played all-out.

Tyson always played dialed to “11”, there was no half way, no pacing himself. It was why I liked to watch him. He could run so fast and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him “dog” a play. This often led to him injuring himself, pulling muscles or in one case, slamming into Jiwan James and landing himself on the DL for quite a while with a concussion.

I honestly think his “dialed to 11” temperament which made him successful also worked against him in the end. He always tried so hard and when things were not going well, it was beyond frustrating, leading to his angry outbursts. I’m no psychiatrist, but I think he just wanted to be the best.

In the end, may be parting ways with the Phillies will give him a fresh start, a new perspective, and I wish him all the best.

Pitchers and Catchers, Day 1

In Philly, they woke to inches of snow. In Clearwater, we had sun but it was cold (relatively speaking) in the 50s with winds gusting to 30 mph.

The cold didn’t seem to bother the pitchers, catchers or even Chase Utley who also was seen on the field.

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Despite the cold and wind, the guys seemed to be having a good time on their first day.

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Mario Hollands, a lefty, non-roster invitee, smiled as he ran through his drills.

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Jesse Biddle, also a non-roster invitee, looked serious.

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David Buchanan also was working hard.

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Jonathan Papelbon also participated.

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Despite having shoulder tendinitis, Cole Hamels was an active participant in the drills.

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Kenny Giles, who I last saw topping the speed gun in Dunedin at 101mph was in Hamels’ group.

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Sabastian Valle, recently left off the 40-man roster, was working hard.

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Carlos Ruiz looked svelte and ready to take on all comers.

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It was also good to see the return of catcher Lou Marson.

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Veteran Cliff Lee did two runs through the drills, once with the other veterans, once with the younger players.

20140213-182701.jpgAnd finally, in case you missed it, here is the most recent roster given out this morning…although it’s already out of date as Chad Gaudin was released this morning after failing his physical.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Day one is in the cold books.

First day of full camp

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It was the first day of full camp. It was good to see everyone working out and taking drills.

It was in the 60s but near the time the guys broke for lunch the winds had kicked up and the temperatures started to drop. (By 5pm it was 57 with a wind chill of 49)

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. Hamels, Revere and Rollins among others signed autographs. The crowds were the largest so far this season.

My highlight of the morning was some young guy saying, “I got Cody Asche’s autograph, he’s a player of the future.”

Pop goes the Pods

After the lackadaisical day the Phils had yesterday, I took my time getting to my seat. I stayed in the shade behind home plate and only wandered to my sun-drenched seat in Section 118 a few minutes before the national anthem.

The first half of the first was average, Cliff Lee was slipping into his mid-season form. The Pirates pitcher was sooooo slow. so very slow. He gave up a run….then another….then Lee   sat the Pirates down…then Mr. Slow…Thome managed to come home…

This pitcher was so slow that people were heckling him, “Come on! Hurry it up! We’re baking to death out here!” and “It’s 85! Get a move on!”. Indeed he was slow, it took over forty minutes for only TWO innings. He gave up two more before they sat him down after pitching 3 innings.

Cliff Lee held them scoreless through six and in the 7th, Kyle Kendrick came in. Things were about to heat up…literally, the scoreboard read a sweltering 87 degrees.

It also started getting ugly. Kendrick was getting ready to pitch when Yamico Navarro put him arm back and started waving at the umpire. I assume he was trying to call for a time out…but the ump didn’t call it. The pitch was a strike. On the next pitch Kendrick pegged him on the arm and a pinch runner came in for Navarro.

It got uglier as during the bottom of the 7th, the Pirate pitcher beaned Miguel Abreu in retaliation for Kendrick’s hit on Navarro. Abreu was unhurt.

Antonio Bastardo came in at the top of the 8th with a 4-0 lead. Bastardo gave up 3 runs. After that, Cholly gave him the hook and brought in Michael Stutes. Stutes gave up another run so the game was tied.

Nothing happened until the bottom of the 9th. The game was tied and there was no one warming up for the Phils in the bullpen. This was it. There were two outs when Scott Posednik came up to the dish. They say revenge is a dish best served cold…and the Pirate pitcher threw AT Pods…The ball went behind him. Pods retaliated by taking the next pitch….

AND SENDING IT OVER THE RIGHT FIELD FENCE! Game winning home run! Take that you scalawags!

Posednik was the hero of the day and may be this will knock the Phils out of their phunk, err, funk. At least we know that Kendrick and Posednik still have some spunk.

 

 

The Phils beat the Jays

It was a great day for baseball. We spent the morning at the minor league camp. I saw my buddy who’s been working with the Lehigh Valley group…he looked really good. I have a good feeling about this season for him.

I also saw Jiwan James:

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He’s a nice guy, very accessible to his fans on Twitter.

It was good to see many familiar faces back. After sitting up many a night to watch the Australian baseball championships, it was good to see their MVP Tim Kennelly.

From there it was in to Dunedin for the game versus the Jays.

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Cliff Lee started and pitched the first two innings. He was lucky today, in Dunedin, the wind usually comes in off of the Gulf and will help a ball out over the fence. Today was a rare day when the breeze came from the East. It knocked down several balls that, under normal conditions, would have gone out.

It was a rather quiet game until the Phils opened up and scored 4 in the 4th.

After that, the air went out of the Jays.

Some Phillies highlights:

Catcher Tuffy Gosewisch picked off a Jay trying to steal second.

Gosewisch then stole second himself, showing the Jays how it’s done.

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Jake “Don’t Call Me Jacob” Deikman came in and struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced.

Hector Luna was AMAZING, fielding a hard-hit grounder and tossing the hitter out at first.

Carlos Ruiz played his first game of the season.

Freddy Galvis had a line drive hit to right to drive in a run, he’s looking strong at shortstop.

My fun crowd moment of the day:

There were a group of Canadians sitting next to us. They were a gregarious bunch and quite fun. We good naturely heckled each other throughout the game. At one point, the little old ladies in front of us were teasing one man as he got up to get a snack. One lady said, “if you’re going down, bring us something back!” he yelled back, “what ya want?” The lady replied, “whatever you’re having!”

It’s the kind of banter you see every game as people are climbing out or walking in front of others, what happened next is what made it different. The Canadian guy came back with a bucket of popcorn for the lady!

She told him she’d been kidding and offered to pay for the popcorn, but he wouldn’t hear it. “I know you were kidding, but I wanted to be nice.”

It was the kind of thing that makes baseball different. With the slower pace, you can chat with your neighbors and have a little fun without missing anything. Of course, these Canucks were in for a long day. They drank quite a few Labatts and informed us they were spending the evening at the Lightning game, who are coincidentally playing the Ottawa Senators.

The weather was perfect, the fans were fun, what more could I ask for?

Baseball is good.