Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson spoke with the media earlier today about a variety of topics revolving around his pitching staff. One of the things that was a focus was on how pitchers would be building up for the season now that things are kind of shut down and everyone is sort of “on their own” in terms of at least not being at the facilities with hands on coaching.
“Every single one of our starting pitchers, the 6 we had going in camp – and that includes Tyler Mahle, were between 57-65 pitches in a game. That’s where they were built to. That upcoming week was going to be pitch to 75-80, and we’d get many of them to 90-95, then back them down before the season started. And some of those guys we weren’t going to be able to do that with, other guys we would have been able to,” said Johnson.
“As far as the relievers go, they were in their 5th and 6th appearance. Generally speaking we were giving them 10 in spring training. Some guys will have maybe one less, some will have a couple more based on how much we think we need to see them. From that perspective they were very well built, right on course where we wanted them to be,” he said.
“It probably depends on how much time passes before we can start again,” Johnson said about the next step towards getting guys back into the routine to build up for the year. “There are some guys who are still trying to move their arm, but certainly they’re not ramping up, they’re not staying the same. From that perspective depending on how much time passes before we get to start training again will kind of answer that question for us. In reality the longer that this thing goes, the more time we’ll need to be built up.”
There’s going to be different answers to the question depending on how long the delay actually is – which is certainly understandable. “If it’s next week they tell us to get back to Arizona and start training again, I think we can ramp up fairly quickly. But if a month or longer passes I think you’re going to look for a longer build up time,” Johnson said.
One thing that’s been talked about during all of this, both with pitchers and position players, is how the layoff in the middle of getting back to things could lead to injuries. “Hopefully everyone understands that because I think injuries, this could definitely be one of those situations where injuries could become a huge factor if we don’t do it the right way.”
Of course, right now guys just aren’t “on their own” in the idea that there isn’t a plan for them. They are just on their own in terms of they need to find a way to follow the plan and train wherever it is that they are (and with whoever it is that they can get together with).
“We have an in-house set up different ways we can communicate (with the players). We have whatsapp, we basically have our full team on that. We have split that into sub-groups, so the pitchers have their own channel, the hitting guys have their own channel,” Johnson said. “We’re keeping in touch with them that way and trying to give them as much information as we can. And that information is not only coming from me, it’s coming from our health and performance, too.”
“We have guys all over the country, and even in a couple of different countries, and where they live – some places you can train more than others. Some guys who are really stuck right now and don’t really have places to train and things like that. Right now it’s mostly monitoring their health and making sure they aren’t coming down with anything,” said Johnson. “The second part is trying to figure out how we can help them work out at home, how we can help them navigate through this whole thing while still being able to move their arms and knowing there’s a pretty good potential that a lot of them don’t have access to a catcher or a mound or even an indoor place to throw.”