Tag: angel borrelli

What’s NOT Wrong with Matt Harvey and How To Fix What Is

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey pitching motion at max external rotation

Tonight Matt Harvey faces Stephen Strasburg. Normally that would be an exciting sentence for Mets fans, Nationals fans — heck, baseball fans in general. Instead, it’s a sentence that makes Mets fans cringe.

Why? Because Matt Harvey is a mess (at least, that’s how The New York Post describes it). And the headline is apt — Harvey admits

“I’m just not feeling comfortable throwing a baseball right now, so it’s frustrating.”

So what’s his problem? How can it be fixed?

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Why There Are So Many Pitching Injuries This Time Of Year

injured-pitcher

More pitching injuries occur from spring training through the first month of the season — do you know why? There is at least one reason, and despite what you may remember of Tim Leary‘s Wrigley Field debut in 1981, it has nothing to do with cold weather.

Listen to the first episode of season two of “The Fix,” a podcast featuring sport kinesiologist Angel Borrelli that discusses baseball pitching performance and injury prevention based on science. This episode doesn’t have anything specific for Mets fans, but will be helpful to pitchers, coaches, and parents of pitchers of all ages.

In addition to learning how to prevent early-season pitching injuries, you’ll also understand what to look for from pitchers in spring training, and what a coach should be asking his pitchers when spring practice begins. Additionally, you’ll find out the single most important factor to consider in keeping pitchers healthy — and it’s NOT innings limits nor pitch counts. Finally, Angel reveals a secret to pitching velocity that every pitcher can work on right now.

Listen to the podcast by visiting OnBaseball.com.

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Understanding Pitching Injuries and Proper Mechanics

If you are a baseball coach or player, or the parent of a pitcher, watch below to learn about the safeties and dangers of pitching preparation, mechanics, and injuries.

Yesterday I joined Sport Kinesiologist Angel Borrelli and Joe Castellano on the “It’s Your Pitch” Spreecast, and we discussed the following (among other topics):

– How the the injuries and surgeries of Johan Santana and Chris Young differed, and why Young was able to return to an MLB mound so much more quickly.

– What pitchers — of all ages — should be doing in between starts.

– Why the idea that Johan Santana’s recent struggles are due to “too much rest” is a fallacy.

– What kind of rest Santana REALLY needed, and why.

– Why pitchers don’t pitch well in starts immediately following perfect games/no-hitters.

– Why pitch counts don’t always matter — and when they do.

– Myth debunked: that tall pitchers have a more difficult time with repeating mechanics.

– Another myth debunked: the value of long toss.

– Which Mets pitcher has nearly perfect mechanics that should be copied by youngsters (you may be surprised!)

– Which Mets pitcher might be next for arm surgery (fantasy baseball owners, take note!).

– Why I was the only Mets fan not rooting for Johan’s no-hitter.

– Why R.A. Dickey‘s knuckler is awesome.

Those are just a few of the topics discussed; even if you watch only a few minutes of this show you’re likely to learn something. Enjoy!

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Listen to Kinesiology Expert Tonight

Tonight on “Inside China Basin,” Joe Castellano will be interviewing Sport Kinesiologist Angel Borrelli, a scientist who focuses specifically on the pitching motion.

FYI, China Basin is an area within San Francisco; the podcast is focused on the baseball Giants. Though this is not a Giants blog, obviously, some of you may be interested in listening — and perhaps calling in questions to — the show.

The show airs live at 9:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. PST) on Spreecast, and welcomes callers.

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Why Johan May Not Return this Year (Or Ever)

A few days ago, in the comments section, I said this:

I wouldn’t be so quick to count on Johan’s return. If his recent bullpen session is any indication, his mechanics are still flawed and he’ll be re-injuring his shoulder sooner rather than later.

Usually, it feels good to be “right” about something. In this case, however, it doesn’t feel so good at all, after hearing the news that Johan Santana has had a setback and will be examined by doctors in New York tomorrow for “lingering discomfort” in his left shoulder.

Granted, setbacks occur all the time — and in fact are expected — during the rehabilitation process, particularly after a major surgery such as the one Johan received. But what bothers me is that his shoulder injury most likely occurred because of a flaw in his mechanics that began to become a habit at some point since he joined the Mets (or possibly just prior). The flaw was identified by our friend the Sport Kinesiologist Angel Borrelli last year — prior to Santana’s injury. When SNY and MetsBlog posted video of Johan’s bullpen session and recent rehab start in St. Lucie, I saw some things that didn’t look quite right to me and consulted with Angel — after all, I’m just a pitching coach and not a scientist, and therefore not qualified to evaluate the motion of the human body. Angel looked at the footage and agreed that there were some inconsistencies with Johan’s delivery — both from pitch to pitch in the rehab assignment and also in comparison to what she has seen from Johan in the past (Angel has been studying Santana’s delivery going back to his Minnesota years, because he previously did many things correctly and efficiently; his motion was a model for other pitchers to follow). Unfortunately, Angel confirmed that the flaw has not been corrected. Here is her analysis:

Take a look at the photos of him below (the first is from 2008, the second is from a week ago). In the first photo, even though I can’t see his feet, because of how level his belt-line looks, I think his front foot has landed…which means that his pitching arm has excessive internal rotation for the phase of the motion in which he is in. This means stress at the level of the shoulder. It would also reduce his velocity big time.

In the second and most recent photo, it shows the same problem — but worse. He not only still has excessive internal rotation, but because the elbow is so much higher than the shoulder, he is now running the risk of supraspinatus impingement. In fact, this is probably what is causing the shoulder discomfort.

Because I have seen so many variations of his pitching arm, I am thinking that his mechanics are inconsistent because he is in pain. It is obvious that he has not been given a clear directive of what he needs to do to resolve this issue and return to his former greatness.

So in other words, Johan’s flaw has not been corrected. I wouldn’t be surprised if it hasn’t even been identified. Part of this ignorance could be due to a common thought process throughout baseball with experienced superstars: Johan Santana “knows himself” and his body better than anyone, so there is a tendency to leave him alone. However, if someone doesn’t step in and help Johan make this correction, he will continue to damage his shoulder, continue to experience pain, and likely will be unable to return to the mound this year. In fact, there’s a possibility he won’t ever return to Major League form if he doesn’t get his mechanics fixed.

Some day — hopefully soon — MLB teams are going to recognize the reality that pitching coaches need help from qualified scientists in understanding and evaluating pitchers’ motions. It doesn’t mean teams don’t need pitching coaches, nor that a scientist should replace the coach. To the contrary — it should be understood that pitching a baseball is a complicated, often dangerous activity, and there are resources available that can minimize the risks and keep pitchers healthy and performing at their peak ability.

As Angel adds,

What is really sad to me…this could have been a simple fix if someone had responded to his change in performance (a decrease in velocity) as a sign that something was wrong with this previously fantastic pitcher. The performance was giving the clues, the mechanics would have explained the problem, and a solution could have been easily had by his making a tiny adjustment.

It’s sad to me too. What makes this all the more sad is that Johan is only one of many, many pitchers — professional and amateur — who are not being properly evaluated and educated. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Angel On the Pitching Mound

If you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember a few posts we did a few months ago with kinesiologist Angel Borrelli, who specializes in the biomechanics of the pitching motion.

You might also have been wondering why we haven’t heard from Angel since then. Well, she’s been busy!

For one, she was helping Giants pitcher Barry Zito get back on track. Zito had been on the disabled list since mid-April with a sprained foot. While on the DL, he thought it might be a good use of his time to fix his mechanics — so he re-hired Angel to help him do that (he originally worked with Angel back in 2005). Zito’s been back now for a few weeks, and pitched well in three of his four starts since his return. How much of that is thanks to Angel? Hard to say, as she works only on his motion — not his pitches nor pitch selection. But I would guess that Zito is probably throwing more safely and efficiently now.

Here is an update on Angel Borrelli from a news program local to the Bay-Area:

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How Serious is Chris Young’s Injury?

It only took two starts for oft-injured Chris Young to land on the disabled list with the diagnosis of “biceps tendinitis”. Young was reluctant to be removed from the 25-man roster, but understood the decision from the standpoint of the team.

From The New York Times:

Young, who will miss at least two starts, said Friday night that he still felt some soreness in his shoulder but that no M.R.I. was scheduled. He planned to rest it for a few days, then begin throwing on Tuesday.

“The irritation in the biceps tendon is lingering, and the best thing for it is rest,” he said.

From Newsday:

The Mets’ desperate pitching situation actually got worse Saturday when Chris Young was placed on the 15-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Removing him from the rotation, however, was better than risking him against the Braves Sunday with a tired bullpen and the possibility of a setback.

“I understand completely,” Young said before Saturday’s doubleheader at Turner Field. “Doing what’s right for the team first, and secondly for my long-term health. Obviously, there’s a level of disappointment, too — this wasn’t what I’d hoped for coming into the season. But you can’t predict these things.”

Young, 31, made only four starts last season because of shoulder problems, and the Mets — taking into account those health issues — signed him to an incentive-laden one-year contract worth a guaranteed $1.1 million. Despite that history, manager Terry Collins said the team has no plans for an MRI, and Young said he doesn’t want one.

“I think at this point, the symptoms are more important than what you can see on the test,” Young said. “The MRI may or may not show something. It may or may not show something completely different than where I feel the discomfort. We’ve talked to the doctors, and treating the symptoms, I think, is the better solution at this point.”

From the above quotes, it doesn’t sound like Young’s issue is so serious; after all, if it was, he’d be getting an MRI, right? And to the common layperson, “biceps tendinitis” doesn’t sound all that dangerous. It sounds like something that might happen when one over-flexes his “muscle” to show off.

In truth, however, biceps tendinitis can be a very serious problem. Don’t take it from me, though — instead, consider what a scientist has to say.

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