Monday, July 26, 2004

Pineiro Update

FOX Sports has changed their story and now report that the injury does not require ligament-transplant surgery.   This doesn't mean that the news on Piniero isn't ominous on the day after Piniero pitched his best game of the year.  While waiting at the bus stop early this morning I read the following blurb in the morning rag:

     Pineiro displayed some discomfort near the end of his eight innings of work, gingerly rotating his pitching arm on the mound.  Admittedly, he felt tightness after delivering a changeup, two pitches before he was done.  He shrugged it off.
     "I kept on pitching," he said.  "I'm not worried,"
I was worried.

Should this be surprising?  Let's review what we know:

  1. In 2003 as a 24 year old who had never started more than 30 games in a season, he was seventh in the American League in pitches thrown.
  2. That same season Piniero was allowed to throw 5 games with pitch counts of over 120 including 125 and 129 pitch count games in September.  This kind of workload is alarming for any pitcher not named Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, or Livan Hernandez.  ( For further information on pitcher abuse please see Rany Jazayerli's excellent study on the effect of high pitch counts on young pitchers from the 2002 Baseball Prospectus.)
  3. In 2004 in his second full season as a starter, Piniero is currently 3rd in the league in pitches tossed.

But that's not all.  Piniero was quoted in Sunday's Seattle Times:

"It's been little things.   For instance, in that last game[against Boston] I didn't have much of anything so I wound up trying to compensate by overthrowing".

That doesn't sound good to me.  But the real kicker came in the same Sunday Seattle Times article:

"When Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price checked the film, he found that Piniero was putting his right foot about 3 inches in front of the rubber. 

"You don't usually look down to see where your foot is" Piniero said.  "I'm like almost everyone else, I use the rubber to drive off to throw a pitch.  And here I was not using it and didn't even realize it."

"It doesn't work that way.  It throws everything off.  One thing to try to do is to be consistent in your mechanics.  It was crazy to be off the rubber like that, but I hope that's what was making me not pitch good."

Now I am not a pitching coach.  Not even close.  But shouldn't somebody have noticed this?  We have a pitcher who has a noticeable decrease in velocity and effectiveness this season compared to his first two seasons in the majors, and we are finally checking his mechanics at the end of July, all the while allowing him to throw more pitches than all but two pitchers in the league?


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