After surgery to repair a torn labrum on August 13th, O’s pitching prospect Brandon Erbe is in the very early stages of his comeback and rehab.
He hopes to begin some light throwing in December and report to spring training on time in February. It may take a while, though, before he is back to pitching at top form and he is quite aware of that.
Erbe is also in the early stages of re-tooling his windup and mechanics. He would like to emerge with smoother, cleaner mechanics after the surgery.
“Anytime you have shoulder problems especially, it usually stems from something mechanical. There have been huge repairs made to my delivery over the past two or three years and a lot of it helped tremendously but it never quite got to the point where myself and the Orioles staff would like it to be.
“This gives me a chance to start over and create enough muscle memory in the throwing process that when I throw bullpens and in games the mechanics will be a lot smoother and cleaner.”
Erbe went 5-3, 2.34 with Bowie in 2009 but went without a win at 0-10, 5.73 in 14 Triple-A starts this past season.
So what will change in his mechanics?
“My first two or three years, I had a problem with jumping. I would leap towards home plate, both feet would come off the ground and it was very violent. That has toned back a lot. That got a lot better, but to make up for that and it wasn’t intentional, I started wrapping.
“When I would take my throwing hand out of my glove, I would reach behind my back instead of going straight out to the side. That is the position where my hand would be before I throw and that put stress and torque on the arm. It makes the arm slow and you have to rush to keep up.
“Once I struggled and felt some pain in the shoulder, we looked back at tape and were able to see it. Unfortunately, we caught it a little too late.”
But if Erbe does change his pitching motion and alter his mechanics, is there any concern it will impact his pitches and reduce his effectiveness?
He said he is not concerned about that or any setbacks in his comeback.
“I went into this process knowing the risks. I’m not blind to the reality, I understand I had surgery and recuperation could be difficult.
“But I’m very confident in the surgeon, the rehab process and the way they are looking over me. I know players that have been through the same thing and been in a similar situation.
“When you see guys like Spoone and Hoey and Patton. They are guys that have had surgery and come back and there is nothing missing with their effectiveness.
“I have been working hard through this process and feel like I am going about this the right way. You get out of it what you put into it. I am putting myself in position to get back to where I was. I am optimistic about the whole thing.
“A lot of people have been checking up on me and been real supportive. They say I am right where I should be and everything is looking good.”
More Erbe stats from the 2010 season:
April: 0-4, 8.35 in four starts.
May: 0-4, 4.73 in six starts.
June: 0-2, 4.95 in four starts.
vs. lefty batters: .295 batting average against.
vs. righty batters: .293 batting average against.
First inning: 8.36 ERA.
Second inning on: 5.08 ERA.