Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let's Talk About Nick Swisher's Groins

It's not typically a topic of discussion I like to approach when it comes to baseball players, but Swish has now had two separate issues with his left and right groins over the past week or so and he's looking at missing another week after the tweak that caused him to leave last night's game early.

Swish was amongst the "best shape of their lives" group coming into camp, and with good reason seeing as how he's entering a contract year as a player in his 30s.  The prevailing thought amongst he and the Yankee trainers is that he might have hit the weight room a little too hard and his leg muscles are tight (like a toiger).  It doesn't sound like a huge deal right now, just rest and probably some more stretching, but I'm curious to see how the missed game time will affect Swish once the season starts since he didn't exactly get off to a fast start last year (.293 wOBA in April).  Definitely something to keep an eye on.

P.S.- I wonder if Joanna is jealous of all the attention Swish's groins are going to receive over the next week or so.

No Reason To Panic On Pineda (Still)

Michael Pineda made his 4th start of the spring last night, and I'm sure people are going to be up in arms about this one too.  He gave up 2 hits and 2 runs in the 1st inning thanks to a HR by Andrew McCutchen and didn't seem to be able to locate very well.  His fastball velocity was a little higher than it has been, sitting mostly 92-93 with a few 94s sprinkled in, but still not at the upper-90s level that will quiet the panic alarm being sounded.

What the people on the "Pineda's a bust" bandwagon will fail to acknowledge is that he made an adjustment after the first inning when Larry Rothschild told him he was opening his lead shoulder and proceeded to strike out 5 batters over his last 2 innings of work, including the side in the 2nd.  He didn't go as deep into the game as Joe wanted to see, but he showed the ability to make in-game mechanical adjustments successfully, threw 72 pitches, finished strong, and said he felt good after the game.  As a young pitcher still learning the finer points of his craft, how much more can you reasonably ask for?

Here's some food for thought.  One year ago today, when Pineda was turning heads in Mariners' camp, he had made 4 starts in Spring Training.  In those 4 starts he totaled 11 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, and 8 K.  In Yankee camp this spring Pineda has 11.1 IP and he's allowed 5 ER, 5 BB, and 12 K.  He has gotten hit a little bit (12 H allowed) but remember, last year he was coming out of nowhere and nobody knew anything about him; he was a big hulking kid throwing fireballs by everybody.  Now he's been around for a year, teams are more familiar with him, there's a book on him, and he's in camp focusing on learning a new pitch to make it usable and effective for the regular season.  He's not out there "throwing gas;" he's pitching.  He's a pitcher.  And the results he's generated in his 4 outings are almost identical to what he did last year.

The moral of this story is, stop freaking out about Pineda's velocity.  He's a young, unpolished pitcher getting a real deep coat of polish this spring from one of the best pitching coaches in the business.  He's still a big hoss, he's still a power pitcher, and he's still damn good.  It's March 21st and Pineda is throwing low-to-mid 90s with his fastball and doing just fine.  There's no reason to think that when the season officially starts he won't be able to dial it up when he needs to.  If it's April 21st, and he's still throwing low-90s, then come back and talk to me.  Until then, just be calm, be patient, and be happy that you aren't watching He Who Shall Not Be Named throw errant curveballs to the backstop.