Seeing as it was going to be my first season overseas, I didn’t know what to expect. I definitely had oversized expectations for my playing performance. I deluded myself throughout my return to pitching that all my previous ability would magically show up again overnight if I kept doing the same workouts and drills. As the weeks of the 2016 northern hemisphere summer went by and the day of my flight to Melbourne got closer, I became more and more irrational about my ability. The pilgrimage to a pitching mecca was a huge wake-up call. Even with the new plan, I didn’t know when I would start seeing improvements and whether I’d be able to pitch effectively for the Wolves the moment I landed.
And boy did I practically start pitching the moment I landed! I flew out on a Tuesday morning from Dulles in VA and got to Melbourne on a Thursday. An entire day disappeared into thin air. It still weirds me out. I avoid thinking about it. The afternoon that I landed, we had a casual training session at the field. Throughout the season we had practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and despite the off and on rain coming down that afternoon, Thursday training was on as scheduled. Only two other guys showed up, which was good for me because I didn’t feel like I had to prove myself as much. In spite of my relaxed mindset, my pitching was awful. One of the worst bullpens I’ve ever thrown. Maybe 20% strikes, very low velocity (like I’d be lucky to hit 75mph), no semblance of sharp off-speed stuff. I can’t help but imagine what our club president was thinking at the time. Like he signed a joke of a player. I rationalized the bad bullpen by blaming it on the jetlag and faced the rest of my first full day in Melbourne with a positive attitude.
Have you ever felt like you’re fighting your own body? That’s what throwing has felt like for me ever since I injured my elbow. The timing of everything felt off. My arm a foreign object glued to my body hastily like the last minute art creation of the average kindergartener. The folks down at the ranch attributed this feeling to flexibility constraints and a frighteningly impossible movement pattern. It didn’t really reassure me. I continued diligently with the drills I was prescribed, 3-4 days a week. I didn’t use my connection ball during our actual training sessions because I was self-conscious about using such a seemingly strange training tool while making my first impressions with the rest of the Wolves. To my surprise, I actually pitched alright in my first few appearances. I looked somewhat dominating in a charity fundraiser scrimmage against a weak opponent and then managed to escape the danger I flirted with once the actual games began. At that time, I was being used as a reliever. Did this match my expectations? Eight games into the wolves season, I only had four shaky outings to show for it, all in losses.
Pitching -> 7 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 11 BB, 1 HBP, 2.35 ERA, 1.96 WHIP
Hitting -> 1 for 11, 0 extra base hits, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB, 3 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP, .091 BA, .333 OBP, .091 SLG, .424 OPS
A WHIP of 1.96 and an OPS of .424. HORRIBLE. To be continued 🙂