Timlin throwing his way back

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This entry was posted on 8/8/2008 12:03 AM and is filed under uncategorized.

Here's a story I wrote that first appeared in the Boston Metro several days ago, but thought it was interesting enough that I wanted to post it online as well. It seems that just about when Mike Timlin hit rock bottom this season, the reliever -- along with pitching coach John Farrell and manager Terry Francona -- came up with a plan for the 42-year-old to retain his sharpness and potentially reclaim his season.

Timlin enacted a plan to throw every other day, be it an inning or two of actual game action or a side bullpen session, with the intent to get the bite back into his sinker.

The plan, it would seem, has worked. Here's more on Timlin and his throwing program:

 Michael August Timlin     Born:  March 10, 1966    Birthplace:  Midland, Texas    Hometown:  Tarpon Springs, Florida    Height:  6' 4"    Weight:  210 lbs    Bats:  Right    Throws:  Right    Drafted:  1987: 5th Round by the Toronto Blue Jays    College:  Southwestern University    High School:  Midland High School (TX)    Other Teams:  Toronto Blue Jays 1991-1997                  Seattle Mariners 1997-1998                   Baltimore Orioles 1999-2000                   St. Louis Cardinals 2000-02                   Philadelphia Phillies 2002    Years with Boston:  2003- Present

There’s an old baseball adage that says a pitcher relying on a sinking fastball needs constant work to keep his pitches down in the zone.

It seems that a simple return to that little bit of baseball wisdom has led to a breakthrough for 42-year-old Mike Timlin this season.

Timlin was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 21 with left knee tendinitis, and both the veteran reliever and Sox coaching staff hatched a plan to get the righty setup man back on track. Timlin was assigned to throw every other day — whether it was actually during a game appearance or in a bullpen session — in order to sustain the downward action on his heavy sinker.

This plan led to Timlin curiously throwing in the Fenway bullpen while Jonathan Papelbon closed the Oakland A's during the final game of Boston's last homestand, but -- say what you will -- the plan has worked. 

“He’s been throwing every other day for quite some time, and more importantly, his outings of late have been more like the Timlin he’s been throughout his career — and the guy we saw down the stretch last season,” said Sox pitching coach John Farrell.

“It’s not uncommon for all of our relievers to get consistent work if they’re not getting in games, but he’s continued it since preparing to go on the rehab assignment.”

Since coming off the disabled list and adhering to a consistent throwing program, Timlin has looked more like the work horse reliever and active all-time leader in appearances with 1,044 games pitched. Entering last night, in his last 10 innings pitched, he’s allowed only a single run since adopting the throwing program (0.90 ERA), and even picked up the win during last Friday night’s extra innings win over the A’s.

Timlin is something of a “Lazarus Man” in the way he’s been able to continually come back when casual observers believed his career was close to over. This may yet be another amazing example of Timlin's refusal to back down to both critics and Father Time.

If the Texas native can give the Sox some consistency out of the bullpen as a middle reliever, landing a veteran reliever during the waiver wire trading period might not be quite as important.

“We need every guy in that bullpen to contribute, and his veteran presence and ability to come in and throw strikes [is key],” said Farrell.


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