Brewers pitchers got their first taste of biomechanics at Maryvale Baseball Park today, where the team’s traveling lab was set up in the batting cages and a series of hurlers were strapped with sensors for a throwing session. The equipment took a series of precise measurements aimed to identify injury risks.
It’s one aspect of the program that new pitching coach Rick Peterson refers to as his life’s work, but the Brewers were already exploring the science before Peterson’s arrival under head team physician Dr. William Raasch. I will talk to some pitchers about the experience after today’s workout to see what they think.
I wrote about Peterson last week before reporting to camp myself, and saw that some fans are wondering whether the Brewers hired a pitching coach or an injury prevention specialist. That’s an interesting question, so I posed it to manager Ken Macha, who worked with Peterson previously in Oakland, for his opinion.
“The way to answer that is to tell them to check the guy’s record,” Macha said. “At one particular time, the Toronto Blue Jays had [Roy] Halladay, [Kelvim] Escobar and [Chris] Carpenter all in their snake [Minor League system]. A little later, we had [Tim] Hudson, [Mark] Mulder and [Barry] Zito. All three of those guys became extremely productive pitchers at an early age for the A’s.
“Whereas, Carpenter didn’t become productive until he got [to St. Louis]. Escobar, so-so. And Halladay wound up getting sent back to A-ball to restructure himself. You look at that particular example, and that says a lot for [Peterson].”
Peterson’s passion, Macha said, is his best trait.
“I think the best coaches are the guys who can break down the basic movements into such small parts,” Macha said. “Whether it’s teaching a ground ball or the hitting stroke or whatever, you simplify it for these players so they’re looking to improve their small parts.”
Here’s how Friday’s schedule was to work:The pitchers warmed up in the bullpen, then went into the lab to throw at full-effort for their motion analysis. Then they headed out to the field to face live hitters on loan from Minor League camp. The big league hitters will get a few more days of batting practice before stepping into the box for real.