One of the first Spring Sunshine stories comes via Brian Bannister who reports his shoulder feels great and he s in top physical condition.
It really shouldn’t be a surprise his shoulder is feeling good. Once it was determined (by a doctor outside the Royals organization) that he didn’t need surgery, it was fairly obvious that a winter of rest followed by a conditioning program would whip his shoulder back into shape. He was suffering from a dead arm. When that happens during the season, the pitcher normally takes a start or two off from the rotation – and in extreme cases can land on the DL for a couple of weeks – before returning as if nothing happened. When the dead arm occurs at the end of the season, like it did with Bannister, the rest period can be followed by conditioning to build strength and stamina.
It really wasn’t a surprise Bannister ended the season on the shelf. Thanks to Trey Hillman s Starting Rotation Chainsaw Massacre, Bannister was pushed to the limit last year. In five starts beginning July 10, he averaged over 111 pitches per start. Previously, he had averaged 95 pitches per start.
I doubt it was coincidence that in his two starts following his stretch of five where he was overworked, he threw a total of 10 innings and allowed 14 runs on 16 hits while striking out only four batters. Hillman didn’t notice anything was amiss or he was negligent as hell as he kept sending Bannister out to work long outings while getting his brains beat in. Bannister finally reached his breaking point on September 2 when he lasted only 1.1 innings. That was four days after he threw a season high 119 pitches in a start in Seattle.
Bannister has exhibited what we ll call a lack of stamina in the past. In his rookie season in 2007, he simply ran out of gas in September when he posted a 7.30 ERA and struck out only six batters while walking eight in his final 25 innings. In 2008, he was pitching OK through June 23 when he had a 4.47 ERA, allowing 11 home runs in 99 innings to that point. However in that start in late June he threw 113 pitches. That came just two starts after throwing a career-high 127 pitches against the Rangers. From that point on, he wasn’t the same pitcher. Over his final 84 innings, he had a 7.29 ERA and allowed 18 home runs.
I could be way off, but I really think the accumulation of starts with high pitch counts hurts Bannister. Say what you will about how pitchers are treated, but understand that not all pitchers are created equal. While someone like Zack Greinke can throw 120 pitches and feel fine, someone like Bannister can throw 100 pitches and feel exhausted.
It s an indictment against the Royals that they apparently haven t figured this out.
– Jose Guillen arrived late to camp due to the death of a sibling. Never an easy situation, but apparently the death was unexpected, which can make it even more difficult to deal with. Positive thoughts go out to Guillen and his family.
– Apparently, we’re going to get a new lineup everyday from SABR Trey and the Royals. Maybe they’re using us as a focus group. Here s the latest as reported by Dutton:
Podsednik – LF
Kendall – C
DeJesus – RF
Butler – 1B
Ankiel – CF
Callaspo – DH
Gordon – 3B
Betancourt – SS
Getz – 2B
Honestly, that makes my head hurt.
Hillman just seems kind of slow, doesn t he? No reasonable follower of baseball would construct a lineup like that. However, Hillman will throw that order out for a couple of games in April, the Royals will score less than two runs a game and we ll never see it again.
It s kind of like when he hit Mike Jacobs and Miguel Olivo back to back early last year. That lasted a handful of games before Hillman realized he was short-circuiting any kind of potential rally with a couple of out machines together in the lineup.
He gets it. Eventually.