Monday is an important day for a couple of Cactus League hurlers who are hoping to be ready for Opening Day with the Milwaukee Brewers. Jimmy Nelson is scheduled to make his first appearance of the spring, which will be his first time facing hitters in an actual game setting since blowing out his shoulder in September 2017. In addition to Nelson getting on the mound with the Cactus Crew, Jeremy Jeffress will begin playing catch after backing off his throwing regimen last week to focus on strengthening his shoulder.
Jeremy Jeffress says his shoulder strengthening program has been going well so far, and that he'll return to playing catch tomorrow.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) March 10, 2019
While being ready for opening day is still the goal, Jeffress is prepared for the possibility he might not be. Full health is the ultimate goal.
Jeffress left his first spring outing after only three pitches four days ago when manager Craig Counsell and other coaches quickly noticed that his fastball was registering only 83-84 MPH, well below the 95+ MPH heaters he was regularly tossing up to the plate in 2018. Jeffress spent the last several days working with the training staff doing upper and lower body workout to build up the strength he needs. Jeffress had to adjust his offseason routine a bit for a shorter timeframe after the team played deep into October, but he says he completed all his normal work and couldn’t offer an explanation as to why he’s been dealing with this weakness.
“I felt wonderful. I did everything I was supposed to do this offseason. It was a different offseason, so I had to adjust because of it being shorter. At the start I was ready, but my arm said no.”
”I wouldn’t look at this as something crazy. I came in right. I came in ready. It happens.”
With Opening Day now fewer than three weeks away, time is running out for Jeffress to get his arm prepared for the start of the season. But according to both the pitcher and the team, the Opening Day landmark on the calendar is not the goal - player health is. Either way, though, no one seems to expect this to be a very long-term setback for Jeffress. “I don’t care if it’s April 10. I don’t care. I’ve got to be right.”
In other news, Mauricio Dubon began participating in team workouts again over the weekend after being hospitalized with an intestinal disorder. He’s not yet ready to play to play in games but should be this week. Also, Bobby Wahl’s ACL surgery will be performed tomorrow in Los Angeles. His goal is to be rehabbed and ready to pitch for the team when rosters expand in September.