Interesting story by Gordon Edes about Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s struggles to get over the throwing yips that plagued him down in Texas. The key: working with sports psychologists, including an expert on yips who has developed a unique system:
The system, he said, is modeled after the pressure points found in acupuncture. And athletes with the yips, he said, “are in so much pain.”
“Tapping helps clear out the negative emotion,” he said. “Say you struck out to end the seventh inning, and you still have to play defense and might come up to bat again. How to clear out that negative emotion?
“You focus on the negative. Start on your eyebrows. Focus on the negative. Each site, your eyes, below your nose, below your lip. The idea is to do a tap lap, go down and around, tap the top of your head, then start again. Tapping helps clear out the negative emotion.”
I tend to be skeptical of this sort of thing, but when it comes to hard-to-diagnose and even harder-to-fix problems like the yips, I’m firmly in the “whatever works” camp. And as Edes reports, it seems to be working for Saltalamacchia.
I’m just cringing, though, at the thought of what some of the harsher Boston columnists, talk radio guys and fans are going to do with concepts like “energy psychology” and “negative emotion” if Saltalamacchia struggles early this season.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.