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McKeon turns pitchers loose


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MARLINS NOTEBOOK

 

 

McKeon turns pitchers loose

 

By CLARK SPENCER

 

[email protected]

 

 

Most managers don't allow pitchers to throw more than two innings in their first spring starts. Jack McKeon is proving he's not like most managers.

 

One day after Josh Beckett lasted 2 2/3 innings -- and 56 pitches -- in his spring debut, Brad Penny and Darren Oliver each delivered three innings Friday in their first outings.

 

''My philosophy is it's not like it was 10 years ago,'' McKeon said. ``These guys are coming in shape to throw a few innings. My philosophy is why take them back?''

 

Penny required only 42 pitches to retire all nine hitters he faced, and Oliver allowed only a pair of singles and two walks during his scoreless stint against the Baltimore Orioles.

 

McKeon said he wants his pitchers to be in midseason form when the season starts, and he's going with a four-man rotation until the team leaves for a pair of spring training games next weekend in Mexico City against the Houston Astros.

 

McKeon said he has long heeded the advice of former pitcher Johnny Sain, who once told the manager, ``You have a greater chance of hurting your arm with inactivity than you do with activity.''

 

LOWELL TAKES FIELD

 

Third baseman Mike Lowell, who has an inflamed right elbow, played in the field for the first time this spring and handled his only throw without any apparent difficulty.

 

McKeon said he's not too concerned about Lowell's elbow problem, which bothered him even in the World Series, but said he likely would use Lowell this spring as a designated hitter in American League ballparks.

 

''I think he'll be fine,'' McKeon said. ``I talked to him and he wants to play. He's determined he wants to play and work it out.''

 

BENITEZ NOT READY

 

New closer Armando Benitez has yet to appear in an exhibition game and isn't scheduled to throw in one until Monday.

 

Pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said there's nothing wrong with Benitez, but the right-hander needs to build his arm strength after not throwing during the winter.

 

REST FOR BURNETT

 

A.J. Burnett experienced some stiffness in his surgically repaired elbow after his last bullpen session Tuesday and will take a few days to rest it before throwing again.

 

''I'm not concerned one bit,'' said Burnett, who hopes to rejoin the rotation in May. ``It's the process you go through in [Tommy John] surgery. It's my arm telling me I need to take a day off, telling me I need to take a break.''

 

Burnett only recently began throwing breaking pitches and had hoped to face hitters in batting practice this week. But that plan likely will be delayed.

 

He said ''some scar tissue broke up'' after his last throwing session, but he said that's not unusual.

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I like this philosophy. Throw, throw, throw. I think it is conditioning, and players now 'a days dont throw nearly enough. Someone made a good point that young players coming up now are not nearly as well conditioned as they were in the ol' days. Why? TV, video games, playing other sports. There are a lot of distractions that keep kids from just playing catch and pick up games as much as they used to. Could be something to it. The only time kids play is in High School and Little Leagues.

 

Regardless, it is interesting to see that throwing more is better, at least for some organizations. This method seems to work as that is what they do in Asia (Japan, Korea) and other places in the world. There are no pitch counts and players develop endurance. Let the debate rage on...

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I'm not sure I like it that much. Our biggest problem in August was fatigue (Willis, Penny), and burning them out in spring may not help. Three innings really is nothing, so until they complain, I'm fine with it, but I'm not sure it's going to help all that much...

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BENITEZ NOT READY

 

New closer Armando Benitez has yet to appear in an exhibition game and isn't scheduled to throw in one until Monday.

 

Pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said there's nothing wrong with Benitez, but the right-hander needs to build his arm strength after not throwing during the winter.

what's this tub of lard been doing all winter?

 

i've heard he's looking a little overweight too.

 

this isn't the god-awful Mets you're playing for anymore tubby, this is the world champion Marlins.

 

too much to ask for a guy to show up to spring training in shape?

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BENITEZ NOT READY

 

New closer Armando Benitez has yet to appear in an exhibition game and isn't scheduled to throw in one until Monday.

 

Pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said there's nothing wrong with Benitez, but the right-hander needs to build his arm strength after not throwing during the winter.

what's this tub of lard been doing all winter?

 

i've heard he's looking a little overweight too.

 

this isn't the god-awful Mets you're playing for anymore tubby, this is the world champion Marlins.

 

too much to ask for a guy to show up to spring training in shape? technically, Spring Training is for getting into shape.

 

According to what I read, all he did was 'veg' out on his farm this offseason. That might be exactly what he needed though, given his struggles last season. He might have been forcing himself a little too much. Some time away from the game and picking it up with a fresh start might be just the remedy. In any case, I think Beinfest and Co. know better than we here do.

 

Which brings me to the fatigue question TSwift brought up. It certainly is a concern, but I think that fatigue is because these pitchers are not used to throwing so often. You build up endurance by putting yourself through rigorous training. The body adapts, believe it or not. Most people fail to realize the amazing qualities of the body and what happens if we condition ourselves for certain conditions. An example I like to use, since what we are really talking about here is paradigms, is endurance running. There is a tribe of Indians in N. Mexico that can run, without rest, for 20+ miles. Why? Because it is a necessity for them. It is a way of life - a paradigm.

 

I'll give you another example. There is, in India, a group of snake charmers that believe in a magical stone that protects them from death by snake bite. The stones have been found, by anthropologists/scientists to be normal. But these individuals BELIEVE they are protected by carrying these stones. And it is the case - these men RARELY die of snake bite and are bitten almost daily.

 

The same could be said of major league pitchers. Not necessarily the 'magic stone' theory, but that their paradigm, should they choose to BELIEVE it and ACCEPT it is that they must throw a baseball for 200+ innings a season plus countless hours of practice, practice, practice. In other words, perhaps the reason they were fatigued at the end of the season is because they did not develop the conditioning necessary to endure the work load. Just my observation...

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