Rest or throw even more? (getting shelled in recovery)


#1

five months ago i could not throw. had a shoulder impingement.

did rehab, fast forward … and by April i was able to throw and pitched in games having mild successs in short 5 inning stints (its’a weekend league, im 32).

but over the past month, i’ve been completely sucking and throwing slow slop.

It’s really bad since my crappy performance and speed coincidies with my arm feeling pretty great, completly pain free for the past month, right when i started to really get crushed.

my teammates are telling me there’s nothing on my fastball, that it was faster like a month ago. The batters agree. I can’t get away with any fastballs that are not a perfectly located.

so what do i do? is it a dead arm? should i rest? or continue to do my jobe work which i do almost everyday, nothing intense, just maintenance.

should i throw more during the week, workout even harder? or scale it back?

I’m 32. The league is just a weekend league. MAybe its’ just a case that i can’t do it against these 20-24 year old kids anymore. i don’t know. but i worked really hard, and to suck and be slow like this… it just sucks.

in the past when i’d have a dead/tired arm, i would just rest it. of course, things i did in the past weren’t the best, considering i ended up with an impingement.


#2

Sounds like extreme fatigue—that’s what a “dead arm” is, after all—and I would suggest that you take a few days to give that arm a rest, and then resume throwing, in easy stages, and gradually work it up to what it was before.
Also, you may have reached a point where you’ve lost some velocity on your fast ball. This happens to a lot of pitchers—I’ve seen this in the major leagues, where they hit a brick wall and suddenly can’t throw 95 or faster any more. But don’t call it quits. You can switch gears and become a good finesse pitcher, add a couple of good breaking balls such as a knuckle-curve, a nice changeup or two, and you can be just as effective, perhaps even more so than you were as a fireballer.
I never had a fast ball to speak of, so I went in the other direction and became a snake-jazz pitcher—and a very good one. My two best pitches were a slider which I nicknamed Filthy McNasty (after a character in an old W.C. Fields movie) because that was exactly what it was, with a sharp late break, and a very good knuckle-curve, and being a sidearmer I learned how to use the crossfire, which gave me twice as many pitches.
I’d like to share a story with you that illustrates this point. This was told to me by my pitching coach, Ed Lopat, one of the Yankees’ fabled Big Three pitching rotation of the late forties to mid-fifties, and it was how he introduced me to strategic pitching, which is what it’s all about. Let’s go back in time—to June 4, 1950. The Yankees were playing the Indians in Cleveland—and I wish I could have seen that game! It was a beautiful day, but extremely hot and humid, and the air conditioning in the hotel was on the fritz, so Lopat decided that if he had to suffer he might as well do it outdoors. He left the hotel and went for a walk. The hotel was just a stone’s throw from the old Municipal Stadium, which everybody called “The Mistake By The Lake”, and as he neared the ballpark he suddenly stopped, because he heard the unmistakeable sounds of batting practice. Batting practice! At four in the afternoon! The night games at that time usually started at 8 or 8:30, so batting practice wouldn’t begin till six o’clock or so. Lopat immediately suspected that the Indians were up to something, so he sneaked into the stadium, made his way to the upper deck, took up a position where nobody could see him, and played “I Spy”.
He watched for about twenty minutes, and he saw Sam Zoldak, one of the Tribe’s second-line pitchers, throw a very special batting practice to their entire lineup. He was imitating Lopat as best as he could, throwing slow breaking stuff, and the batters were practicing hitting it—they were choking up on the bat, standing flatfooted at the plate, and practicing hitting to the opposite field. They were practicing for Lopat, for heaven’s sake! He watched with a sardonic smile on his face as if to say “Oh, yeah?”; he then left the stadium as invisibly as he had entered, and he returned to the hotel.
That night, shortly before the game started, he pulled Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra aside, told them what he had seen that afternoon, and then said conspiratorially, “I think we’ll have some fun tonight.” He then gave Yogi some special instructions. The game started, and in the bottom of the first inning the Indians came to bat drooling and licking their chops in gleeful anticipation of the goodies that awaited them. But what they got was a very different Ed Lopat: fast balls and hard sliders, not even so much as a curve ball, and they returned to their dugout foaming at the mouth. By the fifth inning they decided the hell with it and returned to their usual free-swinging ways, and Lopat immediately switched back to his usual control-pitching. All the Indians could manage was six scattered singles (Larry Doby got two of them) and one walk, while five of them struck out, and in the top of the fifth the Yanks knocked Bob Lemon out of the box on route to a 7-0 shutout victory.
Now the punch-line: The next morning Lopat went to the ballpark early—he usually did this so he could get on the mound or into the bullpen and work on something—and he saw manager Al Lopez and one of the Indians’ coaches standing around dissecting their disastrous defeat of the night before. He walked up to them and said, casually, “Look, you guys—if you want to hold batting practice, do it early in the morning so I don’t see it.” Of course, they called him a bleeping s.o.b., and all he did was laugh.
If you can’t overpower the hitters, outthink them. One thing Lopat told me, and I pass it on to you: Make the batter go after YOUR pitch, what you WANT him to hit. And move the ball around—high, low, inside, outside, and change speeds. Strategic pitching 101. :slight_smile:


#3

cool story. wasn’t quite expecting that.

i have a decent changeup and a sharp, big breaking curveball, so i can kinda work off speed if i have to … but i don’t have excellent command of those pitches … I could get better at them of course.

it wouldn’t be so tough to live without a decent heater if my #1 had some movement on it, but i’ve never been able to get a consistent sink or cut on it.

right now im thinking my arm is healthy as ever, but its just tired. so im not gonna do any work until thursday. that’ll be four days of nothing since i last threw (and got shelled)


#4

Yep, you can do that—give the arm a rest for a few days and then work on your stuff, but don’t overdo it. And you can seriously think about adding a couple of other pitches to your repertoire—the knuckle-curve is a possibility, and possibly a slider; for this last I would advise you to learn it from a pitcher with professional experience who throws or threw a good one. Contrary to what a lot of people have said, the slider, when thrown correctly, is easier on the arm and shoulder than just about any other pitch, and it’s one of the toughest pitches for a batter to try to hit. And you can never have too many changeups! Babe Ruth, who knew a thing or two about pitching, once said that a good changeup will cause batters more grief than just about anything else, and Ed Lopat told me that just about any pitch can be turned into a nice changeup—it’s all in the grip. 8)