This past week was a transitional time period
for many of us in rehab. In particular, Matt Torra and Matt Henrie are both
beginning to throw off a mound for the first time in several months. I have
started to throw for the first time since surgery. Even though it has only been
3 months, it felt great to get outside and throw the baseball around. Of
course, our throwing programs are very structured so I wouldn’t necessarily say
I was just “throwing the ball around,” but I was excited to be throwing again.
Throwing programs are very similar
for all players in rehab despite their injury. Typically, in the very
beginning, a rehabber will start throwing every other day from 45 to 60 feet.
This past week, I threw 3 sets of 20 throws from 45 feet and then I advanced to
60 feet on my third day throwing. In my opinion, the best way to break down the
throwing portion of rehab is to separate it into three stages. Stage one is the
standard throwing program in which a player begins at 45 feet and works his way
back to 160 feet, while increasing the number of throws. This is usually
performed over the course of one or two months. Bullpen sessions constitute
stage two of the progression. This can take place over a few weeks as the
pitcher throws more pitches and begins to include curveballs, sliders, or any
other type of breaking balls. Finally, in stage three, a rehabber pitches to
live hitters in structured, game-like situations. This is the final test to
determine if the pitcher is completely healthy and ready to be medically
Although this rehab process is
strictly regimented, the lone variable remains the time-table. Each player has
a different time-table based on how quickly his arm is able to adapt to
throwing. For some players, the entire throwing process can last only 2 months,
whereas, for others, it can exceed 3 months. Of course, if a player experiences
a setback, or severe discomfort while throwing, the process can be dragged out
even longer since the rehabber typically takes 2 or 3 weeks off before resuming
the throwing program. It’s always rewarding for a player to battle through this
long process and finally get cleared to be able to pitch in games. In fact, all
of us in rehab have formed a close-knit group and we all pull for each other to
get back out there as soon as possible.
Outside of rehabbing, I had a few
busy days over the weekend. On Sunday, Matt Torra and I put on a pitching
clinic at a local little league here in Tucson. Our head trainer, Greg Latta,
has a son who plays in Sabino Canyon Little League, so Matt and I worked with
his son and some of his teammates for an hour or so on pitching. We had a blast
teaching these little guys about the mechanics of pitching and different grips
for pitches. Working with those youngsters served as a reminder for Matt and I
about how fun it is to pitch (and play baseball in general) since we’ve been
away from it for so long. I worked a lot with this taller left-handed pitcher
who reminded me of Randy Johnson so I called him the “little unit.” I think he
enjoyed that comparison.
The Stanford baseball team was
also in town this weekend playing a series versus the University of Arizona.
Since they were here from Thursday to Sunday, I was able to grab lunch with a
bunch of my former teammates and very close friends. On Thursday, I hung out
with John Hester (my former roommate at Stanford), Greg Reynolds, Chris Lewis,
and Jeremy Bleich. It was great to get to see those guys since I spent so much
time with them up on the Farm the past three years. It’s interesting to me that
once someone is your teammate, it’s as if you share a bond for life since you
create so many memories through athletics. I also had the opportunity to grab
lunch with Coach Kunis, my former pitching coach at Stanford. He was still
giving me mechanical tips even while we were eating bread at the Olive Garden.
Anyway, after a busy weekend, we’re back at it today. It’s a lot more fun going
to rehab when I know I will get a chance to throw. Just holding a baseball
sometimes can give you that exciting feeling.