Right-hander Cole Kimball is finally back to feeling completely healthy following shoulder surgery. He is making his second appearance in Arizona and is excited to be back on the bump. Even though he is one of the older guys in the Arizona Fall League, he said he excited to be pitching again, keeping quiet and working hard.
Kimball had rotator cuff surgery in July 2011, and has rehabbed to the point where his shoulder feels strong. He said the injury was a "freak accident," something he believes will not happen again.
Kimball was only able to pitch in 12 games with the Nationals in May 2011 before the shoulder pain forced him to shut it down for the surgery.
"I am glad to be playing again," Kimball said. "I haven't even had to put ice on my shoulder or take an Aleve. It feels amazing. It pretty much feels like I have a brand new arm."
And with his repaired shoulder 100 percent healthy, his pitches have not been affected. He is back to throwing well with each outing in the for the AFL's Salt River Rafters.
"It feels the same," he said. "All my pitches are pretty much identical. It is just stuff that I need to work on for me. It took me a long time for me to get consistent with certain things, I just have to find the consistency - that is as far as mechanics and not as far as stuff or how it is coming out (of my hand).
"At this point, I am (concentrating on) my arm slot. I am looking for something that is good and strong and (work on) consistently throw the ball down in the zone. Next year, my arm will be stronger for having this little season here. Everything will take care of itself."
Kimball made it to Arizona, but had to pitch his first game without his regular equipment, including his contact lenses. He allowed three walks in that first game. He said wearing goggles was uncomfortable and joked, "I don't know how Tyler Clippard does it".
"The first outing was pretty rough," Kimball said. "I didn't have my gloves, contacts or cleats. I got everything now. It is going better. Yesterday, I gave up a leadoff double on a ground ball down the line and then a run scored on a sac fly, but that was it. Other than that, I am pitching pretty good, thankfully."
Kimball said he is focusing now on following a checklist of what he will need to be ready to pitch in each game leading up to spring training. The Rafters have so many pitchers on the roster this fall that Kimball said he will likely only have one or two inning stints that will be a spread out over the next few final weeks of the season.
"I am just trying to find a mold to start working with in the offseason," he said. "I am looking for a certain routine and a list of things to go over as far as throwing mechanics so I know what to do going into spring training. I did this every other year, but this will be my first spring training (in over a year) where I can actually pitch in games."
And the Rafters are loaded with most of the top prospects in the organization. Kimball said it reminds him of the 2010 Arizona Fall League team that went all the way to the championship.
"It is fun to watch (Matt) Skole, (Anthony) Rendon, (Brian) Goodwin and (Jason) Martinson," he said. "They did it all during the regular season and it is nice to see them come out here and face to flight pitching again. They have been holding their own and doing really well. They have also doing good in the field. Aaron Barrett, Paul Demny and Ryan Perry have been pitching very well.
"It is nice to see the organization have such a great year in the major leagues and to watch the guys that they have in the minor leagues also doing it."