Keith Lieppman On Dan Meyer's Progress

The past two seasons have been déjà vu all over again for Oakland A's prospect Dan Meyer. Every time he has made some progress in recovering from shoulder soreness, he has had a set-back. However, 2007 appears to be a different story. Meyer has been effective at Sacramento and is pain-free. We spoke to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman about Meyer's progress this season.

After two years of mysterious shoulder soreness, Dan Meyer finally went under the knife last July to remove an impediment in his throwing shoulder. After a long off-season of rehab and a month in Arizona at extended spring training, Meyer is throwing effectively in the Sacramento River Cats' rotation and is seemingly 100 percent. Meyer has been particularly effective during his last two starts, during which he struck out 20 batters in only 11 innings of work.

On Friday, we spoke to Oakland A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman to get his thoughts on Meyer's progress this season.

OaklandClubhouse: How would you assess the progress of Dan Meyer's comeback at this point? I know when we spoke in the spring, you thought that Meyer would have to be brought along slowly, but it seems that he is back up to full-speed already.

Keith Lieppman: It has just been outstanding. First of all, his health has been outstanding. There has been no bumps in the road for him. All of the rehabs that he has had in the past have hit a bump in the road at some point. He'd get to a certain level and then break down. In this case, it has been clear sailing all the way through. So that's the first thing.

Whatever was ailing him before, this Dr. Altchek [the doctor who performed Meyer's surgery] was able to fix it. This guy [Meyer] has worked really hard this off-season in Phoenix. He was probably the only guy there all off-season. He was there just every single day and he just worked and worked. He made tremendous progress physically and brought that into this season and things have just gone really well for him since.

OC: Have you been surprised with how quickly he has been able to build his arm strength back up to 100 pitches?

KP: It was kind of a natural progression because we had taken each time through [during his past rehabs] until he reached a certain level and then he'd break down. He'd get to 50 pitches and he'd start feeling pain again. This time in his rehab, he was just able to keep progressing. We kept him in Arizona about a month longer than he really wanted to stay there, but I think in the long run it really benefited him because we were very incremental in each build up. We kept him at each level a little longer to make sure that he was healthy. I think that extra month and a half was really beneficial for him because I think he is really just starting come into his true form now. His last outing was really good, he had 12 strikeouts.

OC: Do you think those strikeouts are because his velocity is back to where it was before or is it because he is able to hit his spots better than he was before?

KP: No actually, his control isn't really that great right now. He still doesn't have that tremendous command of his pitches. What he has developed, I think, is a little bit better movement. I didn't really see him much when he was really good before he was hurt, so I don't know how much movement he had then, but just watching him now, that is where he is getting a lot of his strikeouts and swings-and-misses -- on movement.

His breaking ball has gotten better, as well. When he got hurt before, he really learned to use his change-up, so he can throw that in a variety of counts and sequences. I think sometimes when guys are hurt, they learn to pitch because they don't have the velocity. He was able to learn that without the tremendous velocity, to avoid getting hammered he had to learn to change speeds and use his change-up and do all of those things that good pitchers do.

Ultimately, this rehab process may be a good thing for him, even though it was a two-year hiatus, because it has given him a good opportunity to learn how to pitch. To have regained his velocity in combination with all that he has learned has really made him more attractive as a pitcher.

OC: Is he back up to the 92 or so that he was throwing before?

KP: Yeah, he's hit some 92s. He is really pitching between 88 and 91. He'll peak at 92 once and awhile, but he'll stay in that 88-91 range most of the time. He's pretty consistent. He hasn't lost a lot on his fastball.

OC: Is he positioning himself where, if there is another injury in Oakland, he could be considered for a promotion?

KP: Considering what we've been through with so many different guys this season, probably. You know, [Dallas] Braden had a bit of a set-back with a sickness and [Lenny] DiNardo has really stepped up and has done a good job in all of his outings, but if someone were to be injured or there was someone who had another problem, you would start to look at [Meyer] and say that he has put himself into position to be considered.

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