On Monday, David Riske will be just eight months removed from Tommy John surgery, a procedure that can require 12 months of rehabilitation. Still, the reliever is hoping to be active for the Brewers on Opening Day.
“I’d say it’s a long shot, but it’s a possibility,” Riske said. “It just all depends on how fast it responds, and then when I can face hitters and how fast it responds after that.”
Riske has been rehabbing at home in Las Vegas and began throwing off a mound two weeks ago. That’s a significant milestone.
The Brewers would love to get some production from Riske this season because so far his three-year contract has not paid off. Riske says his troubles began during his first Spring Training with the Brewers in 2007, when then-pitching coach Mike Maddux tried to introduce a curveball to his repertoire.
“I wish I would have never, ever tried to learn those breaking balls because that’s really w
hat triggered it,” Riske said. “What do you do? You want to do what they want, and it gradually got worse and worse. … My whole career, I threw 95 percent fastballs, and I’ve had a pretty good career up until last year. I wish I would have just said no.”
Riske said he objected, but tried to pitch through the pain. He posted a 5.31 ERA in 45 appearances in 2008 and was shut down after Sept. 7.
Riske is due $4.5 million in 2010 and his contract calls for a $4.75 million option for 2011 or a $250,000 buyout.
He expects to be limited at the start of Spring Training and will follow a program prescribed by Brewers’ doctors. Pitchers and catchers will participate in their first formal workout on Feb. 22.
“I miss competition,” Riske said. “I’ve been competing with my boys at home, and that’s just not the same. I want that back. I just want to go pitch without hurting.”
Our great Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan wrote today about former Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who has helped turn around the Texas pitching staff this season. I’m not surprised to read that he’s been involved in some clubhouse pranks.
Maddux was Milwaukee’s pitching coach for six seasons before the Rangers made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse and the Brewers couldn’t or wouldn’t match. Texas was last in the American League in ERA last season but has moved up to fifth under Maddux. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ pitching has absolutely flat-lined, ranking next-to-last in the National League with a 4.90 ERA and dead last in all of Major League Baseball with a 5.32 starters’ ERA. The staff cost pitching coach Bill Castro his job in August, less than a year into his tenure.
Losing Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan to injuries certainly hurt, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether Maddux could have gotten more out of this year’s staff.
Here’s another link to T.R.’s story.