To this observer, he seemed to be coming less over the top – more of a shortened motion, a bit akin to the way catchers throw – and seemed to have a small hitch or hesitation in his delivery.
The lefty's state of mind was very positive about the change and his results - as upbeat this time as his last conversation was concerned in tone. After not throwing for three weeks due to what was called at the time a rotator cuff strain, the 30-year-old was most encouraged on Thursday.
On how he feels overall.
"It feels a lot better."
On the reaction of pitching coach Dave Duncan and the staff.
"I think everybody is pretty pleased with how it looks right now. For the first side in awhile, it was pretty good. My command wasn't exactly where I wanted it, but that was my first one, so that was to be expected."
On whether his modified motion is shorter than his previous one.
"It's not any shorter at all. If anything, it is trying not as much to go over the top vs. what I used to be able to do. But it feels a lot more natural; a lot more free and easy."
On when he will pitch again and when a rehab assignment might start.
"I am going to throw in two more days - Saturday. I haven't thrown a side in three weeks or so. I have to throw a few more before I do something with that (rehab)."
On the number of pitches he throws in a side session and specifically on Thursday.
"It just depends on how you feel that day. Could be 20, could be 50. I didn't count. I would assume somewhere around 40 (today) – I am not sure."
On whether he was throwing harder.
"My arm is working better so everything seems a lot more natural so it is a little harder (his pitches). I wasn't giving it any more effort than I do on any other side. When you start feeling good, the ball comes out of your hand a little later and better, it's going to be that way."
On whether this is a more natural release point.
"I am not searching for something like I have been recently. My foot was landing in the same spot each time. I was releasing the ball in the same spot. It was just encouraging."
On whether there is a change in how the ball leaves his hand.
"When I was healthy, I may have come over the top a little bit more. I am lower release-wise compared to where I used to be. But the ball is not any different. It is coming out of my hand the same way as it did prior to the surgeries."
On how this might affect his breaking pitches.
"My breaking stuff was actually good. If anything, it might be a bit more sweeping perhaps. The thing is that I have never had a curveball that was 12-to-6. That has never been my curveball. I kind of look it as maybe something that as I have been trying to come back over the past few years, I started trying to throw over the top a little bit too much."
On what is considered "normal".
"When you have these surgeries, you sort of lose that feel what's even normal. Dropping down almost makes me feel like that was normal or that used to be normal. And I just kind of got away from it maybe or something with the surgeries."
On whether he noticed a hesitation in his motion.
"I don't know. I am not doing it on purpose."
On his velocity.
"I've said all along that I don't care how hard I am throwing as long as the ball is coming out of my hand right and I can locate where I want it to. I don't care if it is 84 or 94. It has no relevance, really."
On whether this side session should this be considered a big deal.
"I felt really good about it. I haven't felt this way in a long time. Feel-wise, it is night and day better than I have been feeling through this whole process."
On how this is different from his last rehab starts.
"I just made good pitches in those games. I didn't feel it was smooth and the way I wanted it."
On how he decided to try a new motion.
"I don't know. I think it was a little bit where you just run out of options and, "You know what? Let's just try this and try this," and…"
On when the adjustment was made.
"Two days ago, when we first arrived here (in DC), I went out and played catch with Murph (bullpen catcher Jeff Murphy). I think that might have been a little extreme. I think I went down a bit further. I felt like I was throwing sidearm, but I was not. Because I had been doing it this other way for so long, it feels that way, but it is not even close to that. Like I said, I feel myself releasing the ball out front, so it's a lot better."
On why this is better.
"My old way, or at least the way it felt on the mound for the last month or two, was a battle for every pitch. Your arm slot would be different for every pitch. That is what I mean for today. I was landing in the same spot, releasing the ball in the same spot. It just felt better and a lot of this is just feel."
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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