Young Righty 100% Again

After an injury slowed him down late last season and into the summer and fall, sophomore pitcher Aaron Weatherford (6-0, 193), who is slated to be one of the weekend starters this season, is anxiously awaiting the upcoming season.

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Aaron explained the type injury he had last season.

"It's in my nerve and is a very rare thing. It's not in my elbow or shoulder, which are positives. It's actually a nerve that runs down the main part of your upper arm where it wraps around your arm," said Aaron. "It sometimes gets inflamed. They put me on some anti-inflammatory medicine. It really didn't bother me or affect my velocity when I would throw. It would hurt in between pitches. And it hurt more on pitches such as a team-seam, pitches where I have to get more extension. It would gradually get worse."

He first noticed it near the end of the regular season.

"At the end of the season it started bothering me, then it went on into summer ball," he noted. "I was going to try to do a pitch-count in summer ball. (But) I kind of overdid it up there (after pitching in four games). I finally decided to shut it down."

He was optimistic that not pitching for the latter half of the summer would cure his problem, but it came back in the fall.

"When I came back in the fall it was doing real well, but I started feeling it again, so we decided to shut it down," said Aaron.

Since he's been back this spring, he's felt no pain.

"We are hoping it won't bother me again because it's not showing any signs or giving me any problems," confirmed Aaron. "I really think if it was going to give me a problem it would have probably shown up by now."

Despite the down time due to the injury, Aaron has still been able to work on adding a pitch and refining another one.

"Last year, I was kind of a two-pitch guy when I came in. I had a slider and fastball and pretty much lived off the fastball," noted Aaron, who recorded a 5-2 record with 2 saves and a 4.28 earned run average his freshman season. "In the SEC and in college you need at least three to keep them off-balance. So, I worked on a changeup and can throw it when I need to. But when I was working toward a changeup I kind of developed a split-finger fastball. I had thrown it some in high school, but now it's a pitch I can locate. Some of being able to locate it came from learning the changeup. The thing with a changeup is I felt I had to slow my arm down a little bit, but with a split-finger I don't have to do that."

With his growing repertoire of pitches, hitters are going to have a difficult time with this young righty.

"They never know what's coming," said the confident youngster. "The split-finger goes down and in to a righty. The slider goes down and away from a righty. And I can throw that to either side of the plate. I can back door either one of those. Then, I can come with a fastball that's 93 to 94. I also have gotten a lot more run on my fastball. My two-seam runs, although I don't know what's caused it, and my four-seam will run away from a righthanded hitter."

But despite his confidence, he understands that you aren't always going to be on the top of your game. But, with the additional pitches, he feels he'll be able to overcome those off-days.

"I feel pretty confident in all my stuff, but some days are going to be better than others. Some days you have your stuff, sometimes you don't," said Aaron, whose fastball topped out at 96 miles per hour last fall. "The good thing about me having four pitches is maybe if my slider is not working that day, then I can always fall back on the split-finger. Whereas last year, when I had two pitches and my slider wasn't working I was a one pitch, fastball kind of guy."

While Aaron's confident in his own ability, he's also feeling pretty good about the team in general.

"Our greatest strength of this team is the chemistry," he said. "We are one group all going for the same thing."

As for the team being ranked lower than he would like, he's using that as a motivating tool.

"(Although we are) rated so low (in the polls), to me, that's a motivating tool. That means nobody believes in us. That's a motivating factor for us to go out there and prove them wrong."

And he and his teammates get their first chance to do that this weekend against Murray State.

MSU Baseball Schedule


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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