Rick Peterson laughs out loud when asked whether he believes in fate.
“Oh, my God, are you kidding me?” he asks. “That’s all I believe in.”
So, chalk it up to fate that Peterson battled injuries throughout his collegiate career and a four-year stint in the Pirates’ Minor League chain. Fate led him to delay pursuing a job in either of his undergraduate degrees — psychology and art — in favor of coaching. It led him in 1989 to Birmingham, Ala. — home of the Double-A club of the White Sox but also of Dr. James Andrews, who opened the American Sports Medicine Institute and began studying the root causes of pitching injuries. Peterson was among the first baseball men to walk through ASMI’s doors and over the ensuing two decades he studied biomechanics as something of a religion, becoming an expert at using Andrews’ readings to develop a program to help pitchers reduce the likelihood of injury and improve velocity and command of their pitches.
Fate then took Peterson to the A’s and the Mets and made him one of the game’s most famous pitching coaches. Now, at 55, fate has led him to Milwaukee, home of the National League’s worst starting rotation in 2009 and two of his former managers. Brewers skipper Ken Macha was with Peterson in Oakland and bench coach Willie Randolph was his boss in New York. Most important, the Brewers are at the front of the biomechanics movement and are the only Major League club, as far as Peterson is aware, with an in-house lab. In a sense, the Brewers needed Peterson as much as he needed a job.
As Peterson settled into Maryvale Baseball Park, where Brewers pitchers and catchers will have their first official workout on Monday, he considered how fate had done it again.
“What a perfect match,” Peterson said via telephone earlier this week. “That’s why I’m so excited.”
You can read more about Peterson’s philosophy and the Brewers’ plans to run pitchers from throughout the organization through a biomechanics scan in my story on Brewers.com
. I know I’m not the only one wondering if we’ll look back at the end of this year and say Peterson was GM Doug Melvin’s
most important free agent pick-up.