Peavy undeterred by pain, targeting quick return

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Peavy undeterred by pain, targeting quick return

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 6:49 p.m

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A visibly relieved, though still a scad shellshocked, Jake Peavy chatted with the media in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse on Wednesday, and no offense to anyone, hes tired of meeting this way.

Ill be glad when Peavy Watch is all over, he said. I can promise you that.

As has become customary during his time with the White Sox, Peavy was delivering his latest injury update with frankness, honestly, and more than a little exasperation.

It was good news -- absolutely, it was good news, Peavy said. But its disappointing for me, personally. I felt I wasnt that far away -- I was feeling so good.

By force of circumstance, Peavy has become way too much of an expert on such things as detached muscles, scar tissue and mental strength, so forgive him if he sounds a bit clinical -- bordering on mechanical -- when discussing his circumstances.

To feel something close to what I felt right before I blew it out at the repair site was the disturbing thing, he said. But when everything checks out, its good. Theres very little fluid in there. We think its scar tissue issues that can create discomfort You think youve done something bad and then you take a huge, deep breath when you find out youve just turned some scar tissue over. It was painful, but at the same time Im very encouraged about the prognosis and looking forward to Mondays start being just a minor setback.

With typical frankness, Peavy described the terror he felt when the scar tissue ripping around his lat.

It happened right off the get-go, the very first pitch I threw, he said. I felt, for the first time in this whole process, I felt something going on. It was a pretty strong grabbing sensation at the repair site, where I was surgically put back together. I have not in any way, shape, or form while throwing a baseball ever felt that pain until the other night and it was disturbing to me.

I was hoping maybe it might be scar tissue, and tried to stay out there and throw some pitches. But when something goes wrong its hard to have any kind of command. The best way to say it is when I felt it last year, when my lat started going, right when youre turning loose the ball and it comes out of your fingers, I guess your lat and everything really starts to engage to slow you down. When that grabs you, thats a telling tale that I know its my lat. I can feel exactly where its at because it was the same thing I felt last year.

Just because Peavy has been well-prepped to expect some pain and discomfort doesnt make that pain and discomfort go down any easierespecially as the righthander has been bulldogging his way through the Cactus League and his rehabilitation starts.

The doctors did talk about scar tissues that people have when they come out of surgery, especially when its that big of an attachment like mine, Peavy said. I thought that on Monday but at the same time I gave myself about 15 pitches for it to get better, to work through it, and it was not getting better. It was going the wrong way. I couldnt let the ball go at that point so I just needed to take a step back. Its a hard thing to do, to walk off a mound, especially when you feel like youre so close to pitching in the big leagues. It will just be a few weeks longer, as frustrating as that can be.

When you have the major surgery that I had, the one thing I keep going back is the doctors saying, Jake when you have a major tendon repair it takes about a year. The doctor confirmed it yesterday: Im not guessing it takes a year, its proven that over years from ACLs to ulnar collateral ligaments its about a years process, 12-18 months for things to settle down and be as good as youre going to get. He goes Youre a few months shy of that right nowwere 10 months into this thing. Hes telling me to calm down, because Ive been pushing the envelope and think Im going to make some miraculous recovery.

However, in the category of miraculous recovery, Peavy is still well in line to beat even the most optimistic doctors estimates for his return to the majors. While the hurler still has an off-day on Thursday to recover, he plans to pick a ball back up for some light tossing in Detroit on Friday and is fully focused on missing just one start and not one day longer.

I would think so, he said. I really wont know that until I start playing catch and make sure everything has kind of subsided and gone away. I certainly hope a start next Thursday is the case.

Admittedly crushed to have missed his chance to open the next White Sox homestand April 29, Peavy is taking his setback in stride.

I dont know any other way to do it than to keep my head up and keep plugging away, he said. Before long, I think things will turn around and Ill be out there doing what I can do.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Adam Engel stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat in May armed with a batting stance that, to say the least, wasn’t conventional. 

Engel’s hands were pushed far away from his body and were level with his head. His bat pointed straight up in the air, and his right (back) arm was raised above his left (front) one. On first glance, you had to wonder — how can that be comfortable? 

“That’s something that I probably wouldn’t coach a little kid to do,” Engel said. 

But there was a well-thought-out method to Engel’s stance. He used the word “tension” in describing what he was trying to avoid by thrusting his hands high and away from his body. And as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson noted, nobody does anything well when they’re tight. 

“The closer I get my hands to my body, I tend to grab the bat a little harder, which causes a chain reaction I don’t want,” Engel said. “As long as my hands get to where I want them before I start swinging, that’s the goal.”

Since arriving in the majors two months ago, though, Engel has lowered his hands and dropped his back elbow. Here’s the difference in his stances between his first career hit (May 27) and his first career home run (June 25)

And almost a month later, Engel's gradually brought his hands lower:

For a rookie, tinkering with hand placement can be hazardous. But Engel’s batting stance has been a work in progress for a while now, as evidenced by what it was back in spring training of 2016:

Even during spring training in 2017, Engel’s stance was closer to what it was in 2016 than what it was when he made his major league debut:

But here’s the point Steverson made about all those tweaks and changes: As long as it helps Engel get the barrel of his bat to the point of contact, who cares how it looks before the swing?

“At the point of contact, 99.9 percent of every hitter looks the same,” Steverson said. “… How you get it done is based upon timing and your inner functions. But can I get it to here on time is what it’s all about. There’s many myriad ways of doing that. You’re not going to teach somebody to do that because there’s not their functions. 

“… You got guys (in basketball) taking free throws different — did it go in the bucket or did it not go in the bucket? It’s kind of the same way with hitting. Can I get the barrel to the point of contact or can I not get the barrel to the point. And that’s the end of the story.”

The 25-year-old Engel is still trying to find his way through his first major league season, hitting .233 with a .317 on-base percentage and a below-average .650 OPS.  But he’s had some sporadic positive results, like his four-hit game against the Minnesota Twins June 22. 

There’s a fine line between finding a batting stance and hand placement that you’re comfortable with and tinkering too much, especially for a player as green as Engel. But he’ll continue to put in the work trying to find something that will yield consistent success — and that may mean another batting stance that sticks out. 

“it’s just pregame work, watch a lot of video on the starter before the games and then try to work all my work pregame, batting practice, swings in the cage, try to have a mindset that I’m going to have in the game,” Engel said. “Work on the mindset, and then when I step in the box, it’s as close to practice as it can be.” 

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”