Scott Proctor blames alcohol, not overuse, for his downfall

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In camp with the Giants after spending last year in Korea, Scott Proctor told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman that his collapse was more about his struggles with alchoholism than arm problems caused by Joe Torre’s rough handling of him.

“I think some things that happened and some poor choices on how I lived my life led to it more than anything,” he said.

Part of that was not eating right or sleeping enough, the basics of being a good athlete, but that was not the killer. He said he had a “serious drinking problem,” a binge drinker who stopped when he ran out of booze or passed out.

Proctor is the last major league reliever to throw 100 innings, ending up at 102 1/3 in a league-high 83 appearances for Torre’s Yankees in 2006. Not as effective the next year, he was traded to the Dodgers over the summer. Still, he made 83 appearances for the second straight season in 2007, covering 86 1/3 innings.

Proctor and Torre reunited in Los Angeles for the 2008 season, but it didn’t last long. Proctor’s elbow started acting up, putting him on the DL in June, and while he tried to keep pitching, he was forced to have Tommy John surgery in May 2009. He returned to struggle in spot duty in 2010 and ’11 before going to Korea. In total, he has a 6.59 ERA in 86 major league appearances since the beginning of 2008.

Proctor did have a successful season in Korea last year, saving 35 games with a 1.79 ERA. He says he’s perfected the splitter he used to throw in majors on occasion, and he’s thrown two scoreless innings for the Giants so far this spring.

More importantly, he says he’s been sober for four years now. He’ll open to accepting a Triple-A assignment should he fail to make the Giants, so it seems likely that we’ll see him back in the majors again at some point.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.