Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy has been limited to just five starts in the majors since Tommy John surgery in June of 2012, but he’s hoping for better luck on the health front this year.
Elbow inflammation pushed Beachy’s season debut back to July 29 last year and he eventually underwent surgery in September to remove a bone spur and loose fragments. However, he was among the pitchers present for day one of the Braves’ voluntary throwing program at Turner Field today and told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that he’ll have no restrictions going into spring training:
“I’m going to be a little smarter than I have been in the past, with not worrying about velocity the first couple of outings and things like that,” Beachy said. “But I’m going to be on the same schedule as everybody else.”
Beachy is still just 27 years old and owns a 3.23 ERA and 275/86 K/BB ratio over 267 2/3 innings in the majors, so there’s some serious upside if he’s finally back to full health. Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia was brought back last week as insurance for the rotation while Gavin Floyd could be an option at some point during the first half assuming all goes well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.
Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.
With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.
As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.
As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.
I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.