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  • Will Mike Pelfrey be ready by opening day?

    Mike Pelfrey, or “the Big Pelf’ as he is called, towers at six feet, seven inches tall.

    Because of his substantial stature, it is likely that when Pelfrey starts saying that he will be ready to pitch by April this year, there is nary a person around to tell him otherwise. Even the Minnesota Twins figure that Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery in May 2012, will be ready by the opener, less than a year after the procedure.

    “If the season started tomorrow, I would have worked up to be ready at this point,” Pelfrey told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. “Realistically, after 7 ½ months, I threw 90 pitches to hitters, so I could pitch [now]. They told me the other day, ‘No restrictions. You’re on the schedule with everybody else.’ That’s what I wanted.”

    He has reportedly thrown 40 mound sessions since the surgery and has zero setbacks thus far. There is no question that he is doing everything possible to be ready by April 1. An interesting comparison to Pelfrey’s development will be to monitor how the Chicago Cubs prepare for former Twin Scott Baker’s return from the same injury.

    When Baker was signed the past November, the Cubs raved about his progress. They were teeming with optimism that Baker would be a key component of the team’s success right away, mostly based on his rehabilitation.

    “There are no certainties with rehabs, but we spent quite a lot of time on the medical (evaluation) and (looking into) his rehab,” said Chicago team president Theo Epstein. “It was described by our medical staff as an ideal Tommy John’s rehab, so far. Knock on wood. Everything has gone perfectly so far. He’s really attacked it in an ideal manner.”

    Fast forward to yesterday and Chicago’s field staff communicated a different message. Manager Dale Sveum said that the team was planning on “babying” him through spring training and that Baker had an “above-average” chance of missing the start of the regular season.

    What does Scott Baker’s timeline have to do with Mike Pelfrey?

    Baker had his Tommy John surgery almost two week prior to Pelfrey. Like Pelfrey, Baker’s rehab was thought to be going exceptionally well. He was throwing off of flat ground by August 8 and was throwing from more than 120 feet in September. In November, following his signing, the Cubs officials expressed adulation of his progress.

    During the time Baker began throwing again last August, Pelfrey was in Wichita where he played college ball. There, he helped coach an 18-year-old local team who was heading to a national tournament. Pelfrey took the opportunity to tell reporters that the medical staff and Mets’ organization had advised him to shoot for a May 2012 return based on the 12-month timeline post-surgery, but his own personal goal would be to be ready by opening day.

    By the middle of August last year, reports emerged that Pelfrey would be throwing on flat ground “soon.” Already he was few weeks behind Baker’s timeline but it appeared to be slipping further off target. When the Twins signed him in December, Pelfrey told reporters that he was confident that he would be 100% by opening day.

    "I'm on track for Jan. 15. So everything is going well," Pelfrey told ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin. "Tim Hudson came back in seven months (from Tommy John surgery)…I'll definitely be ready when spring training rolls around."

    True, Hudson came back quickly, but his actual recovery time was a bit longer than what Pelfrey relayed to the press. While he did return to pitch in the minors for a brief spell 10 months after his 2008 Tommy John surgery day, it wasn’t until 12 months after his surgery date that Hudson was throwing in the majors again – and even that was September work with the off-season ahead of him to rest. Essentially, Hudson jumped into the marathon near the end of the finish line whereas Pelfrey is expecting to run up to the starting line of the race and toss 180-plus innings.

    Locally, fans will remember Joe Nathan’s slow return to form in 2011. Nathan received the gift of a new UCL in March 2010 and busted his butt to get back on the hill by the start of the 2011 season. Nathan said all the right things, just like Pelfrey: I don’t want to be babied, I feel great, etc. After a clean spring training, Nathan was brought to Minnesota in what turned out to be a premature decision. It took the Twins nearly two months of the season, three home runs, two blown saves and a 7.63 ERA, to realize that Nathan was not ready. He was sent to Rochester to break up some scar tissue and came back effective for the second-half of the season.

    This week, Baker reportedly threw 40 pitches at 70 percent effort in response to the Cubs’ babying program. Meanwhile, early dispatches from Fort Myers suggest the new Twin one-upped the former Twin and has overtaken him in the race for the return. In his first bullpen session of the year, Pelfrey threw 50 pitches.

    There are plenty of reasons why Pelfrey may actually comeback quicker than expected. His size suggests that he can take pressure off his arm. His relatively low injury history may mean he is less injury prone in general. He may have X-Men DNA and heal freakishly fast like Adrian Peterson. This is to say, every individual repairs themselves differently and at different intervals. Still, research tells us that the time to return to form from Tommy John surgery is 12-to-18 months. Hard work and great genes may help Pelfrey target May – closer to the one-year anniversary of his new elbow – but anything earlier than that could be risking a setback (like Joe Nathan).

    The Twins may be supportive to the public of Pelfrey’s return but, at the same time, gathering insurance quietly such as signing left-hander Rafael Perez, someone assistant GM Rob Antony believes can be stretched out into a starter, to a minor league contract. Perez -- along with Rich Harden and in-house candidates like Liam Hendriks, Cole DeVries and Sam Deduno -- may be the safety net the front office is preparing in the event Pelfrey is not ready by April.

    At his age and his relatively low injury-risk in general, Mike Pelfrey is almost certain to rebound. Never say never but, if history has any indication, the likelihood of him pitching effectively in April appears low.
    This article was originally published in blog: Will Mike Pelfrey be ready by opening day? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      What does it really cost them if he has arm issues or is ineffective due to an early return?
      Several wins and possibly some trade value.

      But, overall, not much. It's a valid point.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Here are some post-session quotes/items from Pelfrey today:

      "Pelfrey added he's been more aggressive than others in coming back from TJ surgery but Dr. James Andrews has signed off on everything." -- @RhettBollinger

      "I‘m going to be ready," Mike Pelfrey said. "I feel great. There’s not a doubt in my mind Opening Day I’m going to be on the team." -- @MikeBerardino
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      For how large Pelfrey is and his decent velocity, I think many of us are disappointed with his poor K numbers. As unlikely as it would seem, perhaps those numbers take a jump his first year back. Sure he's moving into the dreaded AL, but he has always had pretty decent control. Perhaps he will be somewhat effectively wild this year. Not to the extent of Liriano who was ineffectively wild, but perhpas a bit of location instability will cause batters to not be able to dig in against this already imposing mountain of a man.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Those Pelfrey quotes reported by Berardino and Bollinger? Nothing but Twins PR. Right, mike wants wins?

      We're a handful of days into camp, for God's sake. There's no bad news to report! Hell, today is the first day of live batting practice, so yes, mike, I call you cynical, my brother.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      When beat writers or tv reporters say something other than PR work for the twins this spring, I will pay attention. Until then, I doubt I will believe anything they write. Call me cynical, but this spring is all PR from reporters so far.
      You don't really understand the job of beat reporter do you?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      You don't really understand the job of beat reporter do you?
      Are you suggesting that a beat reporter should be nothing more than an organizational shill?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Are you suggesting that a beat reporter should be nothing more than an organizational shill?
      A Beat Regurgitater? :-)
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If their role is PR, why read it?
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      http://thebeetreporter.blog.com/

      The beet reporter...
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Are you suggesting that a beat reporter should be nothing more than an organizational shill?
      Well, their job is to report what's happening and what people are saying, which they appear to have done. People can (and should) scrutinize the content of quotes but I think it's pretty harsh to imply that the reporters have something wrong by relaying them to their readers.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Well, their job is to report what's happening and what people are saying, which they appear to have done. People can (and should) scrutinize the content of quotes but I think it's pretty harsh to imply that the reporters have something wrong by relaying them to their readers.
      Generally, there's a distinction between a reporter and a columnist; isn't there?

      IMO, the local media's credibility is easy to questions because the columinists aren't very good.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Generally, there's a distinction between a reporter and a columnist; isn't there?

      IMO, the local media's credibility is easy to questions because the columinists aren't very good.
      Yes. A reporter's job is to objectively relay facts and quotes. The really good ones will maybe take an extra step to provide context or balancing viewpoints, but there are only so many really good ones out there. A columnist's job is to editorialize.

      As for the latter part of your post... well, that's why sites like this exist
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Yes. A reporter's job is to objectively relay facts and quotes. The really good ones will maybe take an extra step to provide context or balancing viewpoints, but there are only so many really good ones out there. A columnist's job is to editorialize.

      As for the latter part of your post... well, that's why sites like this exist
      Right. I think it's fine take what you read from beat-reporters with a grain of salt, especially if the context is opaque, but to somehow equate that cynicism with a critique of the beat-reporter's job performance is poor form.

      It should also be important to note that part of a reporter's job depends on their 'access,' so they're not going to want to jeopardize that by editorializing or even negatively framing what they might be reporting. Just saying.
    1. ALessKosherScott's Avatar
      ALessKosherScott -
      It wouldn't surprise me if Pelfrey bounced back to 2010 form this year. Granted, the 2010 version of Pelfrey wasn't very good at throwing any pitch besides a fastball, so the time it will take to get comfortable with his breaking pitches and splitter will affect him less.

      Good news? Bad news? Who knows.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      You guys ran with my point on the role of the beat writer. They report news and gather quotes, not offer constant opinions. They can provide some context in their stories but have to limit the editorizing.

      If you don't like that I'm sure the papers will miss you. I can only imagine the amount of money that you invest in papers. They are a business, part of what they have to sell is interest in the team so people will buy papers and continue to follow the team. Doesn't mean they have to be lapdogs but constant negativity wouldn't be all that successful of a model.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Based on recent reports from Fort Myers seems that Pelfrey will be ready. The magic words were said by Andy after his first bullpen: "The ball came out of his hand good" (sic); whereas Diamond will not be because he "did not like the way the ball came out of his hand".

      I kinda followed Pelfrey's career for a while (mainly because I like to listen to Sports Radio and the one available here is WFAN 660 out of NYC) and I think that he is one of those guys who pitch better than his peripherals and also one of those guys who had a hard time performing in NY and never really reached his potential. Will be interesting to see what he can do with the Twins in a zero pressure situation. I think that it was a very good signing for the Twins.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Yes. A reporter's job is to objectively relay facts and quotes. The really good ones will maybe take an extra step to provide context or balancing viewpoints, but there are only so many really good ones out there. A columnist's job is to editorialize.
      But this requires pretty intimate knowledge of baseball Frankly, other than the 2 beat reporters in the biggest Twin Cities daily, the other beat reporters are either learning (and some of them in an admirably good pace - e.g the two of the 2 certain TV networks) or are thrown in even though they are football people and cannot tell a slider from a screwball (e.g. the two of a certain radio station.) Frankly, for these guys is a job and for the ones who are good, it does not end when they go home (like everyone who is good with their jobs no matter what that job is.)
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      An update from the newest beat reporter, Pi Press' Mike Beradino:

      The smile on Mike Pelfrey's face said it all.


      His words were pretty strong, too.


      "I'm going to be ready," the veteran right-hander said Monday, Feb. 18, after facing hitters for the first time this spring. "I feel great. There's not a doubt in my mind. Opening Day, I'm going to be on the team."
      http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_...od-after-first
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      An update from the newest beat reporter, Pi Press' Mike Beradino:



      www.twincities.com/sports/ci_22615042/minnesota-twins-mike-pelfrey-feels-good-after-first
      This is really interesting. And I am glad that it looks really good. This is really encouraging

      On another note, just adding to what I said earlier about the baseball experience of most of the Twins' beat writers these days, here is this quote from the article:

      His slider was a little rusty, but Pelfrey broke off a few curveballs and was able to keep his sinker and split-finger changeup down in the zone.
      .

      Clearly, this must have been some sort of circulating rumor among the press, which contadicts the following image (also in the same article) of Pelfrey throwing BP today :




      I'd love to hear more about Pelfrey's four-seamer (which is the pitch he is throwing in the picture, btw )
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      When the Twins say Marquis throws strikes, and other factually incorrect things, and the beat guys repeat it like it is true.....are they doing their job? When St. Peter says payroll does not matter, and not one of them follows up and asks why they needed a new stadium, are they doing their job?
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