Gammons: Sox are setting the standard for breaking in players

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This entry was posted on 6/25/2008 12:52 PM and is filed under uncategorized.

I really think the Red Sox are so good and so much on the cutting edge of pitching and protecting their pitching commodities, that sometimes we take foregranted the current methods and biomechanical theories that aren't exactly household philosophies with other MLB organizations.

The incremental limit in innings pitched for young pitchers, the built-in rest that the Sox are providing for all of their starters and the shoulder-strength measurements regularly administered that are key elements of the Sox pitching plan simply aren't a staple of many other team's programs. It's a big advantage the Sox gained when they hired Massachusetts native Mike Reinold away from Dr. James Andrews' surgical facility in Alabama. Reinold is listed as an assistant athletic trainer, but his presence among the Sox pitchers and their training regimens has been unmistakable over the last two seasons. He's pictured below -- with the glasses -- holding the World Series trophy at Coors Field last October with the other largely unheralded -- and all excellent -- members of the training staff.

Here's a bit more from Peter Gammons about the Sox and their pitching development methods from last week's appearance on the Mike Felger Show:

You nailed it on the head with Bartolo Colon. You said watch Colon after about five starts as he got off to a good start with Anaheim last year and then really dropped off after that last year. It looked like his velocity and stuff dropped off again this season after five or six starts with the Red Sox.
They did maybe. The Red Sox really believe this is a good time to give him two or three weeks off.
He went from 85 to 95 in a very short period of time. They really believe if you give him time, which they can afford to do with the depth of their pitching, that he can come back and give them another 5 or 10 starts this season. If he does it’s a great deal, and even if he doesn’t it’s still a great thing. He goes on the DL and Matsuzaka is ready to come back.

But I’m not counting Bartolo Colon out yet. I think they think he pitched so much that he needs that kickback time, which he didn’t get in Anaheim. We’ll see. I wouldn’t write him off yet, but it was that five start window that you had to figure out how much was in there.

Now he settles back, gets back, keeps doing that shoulder program so maybe he comes back nearly as good as he was.

It seems the Sox have run into injury problems that many of the World Series teams have run into, but as soon as somebody gets hurt or fatigued somebody else steps in whether it’s Masterson or Colon. It seems like they’re almost a little bit charmed in that regard.
Charmed, but I also think it’s a little bit of a byproduct of an excellent organization. Yesterday Coco Crisp, who has been playing great, gets hurt and Brandon Moss comes in and gets a big hit. I thought it was a fascinating story in the Boston Herald by Rob Bradford, and there was some great stuff in there where Masterson was talking about the support system that young players have when they finally get [to Boston]. Some of the most telling quotes were from John Farrell about the safety net that you have to develop for young players and how you need to prepare them.

I don’t think many other teams understand that, and I think they really get that. I have no doubt in my mind that Jed Lowrie will come back up here and be good, or that Michael Bowden will make three or four starts at some point and be very good. I really give them credit. It’s a combination of all that Mike Hazen and Ben Cherington and all of the minor league development people have done, and what John Farrell and all of the Sox pitching instruction people have done.

I absolutely marvel, and I talked to a lot of baseball people today, and I sent that story around to a lot of baseball people today and I got a lot of response from it. They were fascinated by that view of looking at a player when he comes up and goes 0-for-4 and rather than saying ‘get him out of here, he can’t play in the big leagues’…the Red Sox just have that constant support. Craig Hansen had a couple of bad outing in a row because he lost that slider, but they say ‘we’ll get that slider back.’ Manny Delcarmen was a fire drill one game and [then he
comes back] and he was absolutely incredible.

That constant work as if they’re coaching them in college, I think it pays off tremendously and it’s almost a totally different atmosphere with the Red Sox than it is with just about every other major league team. They know they’re a work in progress and they’re not afraid of it. And the veteran players have bought into the idea of bringing the young players up.

Anything behind the scenes with Daisuke Matsuzaka other than the shoulder fatigue when he was put on the disabled list?
I think there was a little bit; in fact I know there was. Due to the Mike Reinold shoulder strengthening program. Daisuke had his own shoulder program, but they wanted him to strengthen it up and I’m told that he’s bought into it this time around. He got scared and now he’s really bought into it. It’ll be interesting to see because he was certainly pitching well prior to the shoulder fatigue.

That program and Mike, I don’t know if you read Will Carroll’s Under the Knife which I think is one of the best things in sports on injuries, he constantly refers to [Reinold] as being the best in the business and I think Daisuke has really learned from all this.

We’ve really seen them develop guys, and Masterson already acts so maturely like he’s a 30-year-old anyway. Just look at the development of Jon Lester and I firmly believe that we’ll see Clay Buchholz become a pretty important character for this team in the second half of the year. I give them a lot of credit. It’s almost like an instructional situation and it’s all very, very positive. It’s really a lot of fun to watch that.

How many teams do as good a job as the Red Sox of protecting their pitchers?
I don’t know if anybody does. I used to talk to Bobby Valentine a lot about this and Bobby had very strong beliefs in it. I think Bobby was really right about in a lot of cases and he used to a lot of times go to a six man rotation at the end of August or early September to protect their pitchers. It seems as if they’re at the point where they expect to play in October and they want everyone from Josh Beckett to Clay Buchholz to be at their peak come October, so they’re perfectly willing to give every guy two or three weeks off.

I’m still firmly convinced that the reason the Red Sox won the World Series was the 50 less innings pitched that Josh Beckett threw as opposed to C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. I think those guys just hit the wall in that series and Josh Beckett was pitching in the World Series like it was April 20.


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