That’s what happened to Toronto Blue Jays starter Nate Pearson, who believed he had adductor strain he suffered early in spring training when he took the mound for an enclosure in mid-March and… bang. It was there again – a familiar pain in a familiar area. And there he returned to the familiar rehab routine, trying to be healthy for a season that was now about to begin without him.
“I felt 100% ready to go. And the training staff were awesome. They took care of it, ”says Pearson. “But it’s just something that can happen in the recovery process as you rebuild. Obviously, it stank that it had happened. It delayed everything.
But if there is room for optimism in Pearson’s unfortunate predicament, it’s that the re-worsening of his groin injury has shown him that something needs to be changed in his mechanics. There had to be a reason it kept happening. So he went into the video room, slowing down his frame-by-frame delivery with the developers at Blue Jays, looking for clues as to how he went from one stage of his throwing movement to the next.
What they discovered was a tendency to tense up the moment he was about to release the ball, born out of Pearson’s desire to throw as quickly as possible. Rather than remain fluid and efficient in his pitching motion, he was introducing unnecessary tension at some point in her childbirth when he was already transferring a large amount of force through her body.
It was, as Pearson said, “not necessarily in the best interests of me”. So he got down to work smoothing out that last action, focusing on staying relaxed and trusting the natural speed that his six-foot-six, 250-pound frame produces, rather than pulling back. stress to push the ball so hard.
“It’s about throwing with a little less effort and feeling more fiery – just throwing more effortlessly. Don’t try to run after the bike or whatever, just try to throw. It’s definitely a bit new. I adapt to these mechanisms. But I feel really good with them and I feel healthy, ”he says. “I used to feel nice and smooth, then at the last minute I was tensing up and trying to throw the ball as hard as I could. This is when my order became sporadic. And I feel like right now I’m focused on staying at a speed all the time and keeping the body calm throughout childbirth.
“The changed mechanics, they’re not completely different or anything. You might not even be able to really tell. It’s more simply a matter of remaining calm on the mound and being less violent.
The first returns are encouraging. Pearson has not suffered, as he has deliberately increased his workload since returning to the mound in early April. He secured up to 65 pitches at Toronto’s alternative venue in Dunedin, Fla. Last week and will be pushed further on his next outing on Tuesday, starting the Buffalo Bisons’ season opener in Trenton. , NJ.
And there’s more good news – the mechanical adjustments didn’t come at the expense of speed. Pearson was sitting at 97.5 mph on his last start at the alternate site and climbed to 101 late in the outing – a great sign for a pitcher who has generally gotten stronger as his outings lengthened.
“Honestly, I threw hard,” says Pearson. “I haven’t reached 101 in a three or four run period since 2019. So it’s very impressive to see that the bike is still there. And now it’s all about fine-tuning everything, controlling it and throwing strikes. “
Yeah, that’s a big deal. It doesn’t matter how strong Pearson’s shots are if he fails to position himself against the Big League hitters. He learned that the hard way last season, when erratic fastball control led to 12 steps in four outings before hitting the injured list with a flexor strain.
But walking was never an issue until his major league debut, as Pearson pitched just 32 innings of 123.1 in the minor leagues. And when he came back from flexor strain in late September, he lived in the zone much more consistently, throwing 17 of 24 pitches for strikes in a final regular season outing, before knocking out five of six batters that he did. ‘he faced off in a totally dominant position. appearance of relief after the season.
This seems to indicate that when Pearson feels healthy and strong on the mound, he can find the area in abundance. This is what makes the composition of its new mechanisms and avoiding any future problems arising from its delivery so crucial.
At his best, Pearson dot the edges of the strike zone with quick 90-high balls, tunneling those heaters with sliders moving in one direction and curved balls moving in another. And if he doesn’t get the swings he’s looking for, he might just fall into a change at the same speed as Hyun Jin Ryu’s fastball. When everything is working, it’s a plate-appearing nightmare for a hitter. That’s why Pearson is so famous – why he’s one of the best prospects in the game. Guys with his tips and abilities don’t come around often.
But it all starts with that fastpitch drive. Without it, nothing else will work. And that reliable strike throw is probably what the Blue Jays want to see before they promote Pearson to the majors, which suggests it should be. That will be his goal on Tuesday with the Bisons – and for as long as it takes to prove to his organization that he is ready to return to the next level.
“I always like to say I’m a good strike thrower for how hard I throw,” says Pearson. “The bicycle is not the question. It’s just everything else that goes with it. Control everything. Four throws for the strikes, control the fastball. The bike is going to be there without a doubt.
“I have four really good pitches and I think I just need to focus on everything that works that day in the game. Competition with everything I have. And don’t worry so much about which terrain is there and which isn’t. It’s going out there, and everything I’ve got that day, just competing and going out.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo has indicated that the club consider Pearson’s rehabilitation process to be over and the 24-year-old is now competing for an MLB opportunity alongside other deep beginners such as TJ. Zeuch and Anthony Kay, who will fill a gap. the Blue Jays’ rotation in Oakland on Tuesday night.
If – big if – Pearson can figure out his new mechanics, command his fastball, and keep ramping up his pitch, he could be an option in the major league rotation as early as next week. The Blue Jays are currently playing a streak of 29 games in 31 days, and with Hyun Jin Ryu due to return on Thursday after a brief absence due to gluteal fatigue, it stands to reason that the club will strive to secure his ace. additional day of rest. he usually prefers between departures.
It could create an opportunity for Pearson right here. An injury could also. A COVID fear; rain; a double header. A million things can happen. But all Pearson can do is cast where it’s called for right now. And wait for the day when his name will be called again.
“I think they want me to be able to make six or seven good innings when I get called back. So obviously we’re going to have to see how the rehab and debut plays out here in triple-A. I’m kind of right here until they called me. So I’ll be where my feet are, ”says Pearson. “You know, obviously, it’s not something an athlete wants to go through – injuries and all. But that’s part of the game. And I’ve had injuries before. And just knowing how to deal with them mentally and just knowing that, ‘Yeah, it stinks right now. But it all depends on the big picture.
“I have just started my young career and I will come back to that in 10 years and I will be grateful for what I went through. Going back to triple-A – obviously, not where I want to be. I want to be in the big leagues. But that’s where I am right now. So I’m going to focus on the pitch here and enjoy it with my teammates. We have a lot of great guys here. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. “