Atchison Working His Way Back

TACOMA, Wash. – One inning pitched, no hits, two walks, two strikeouts. It is a largely unremarkable line for Scott Atchison's third appearance of the year for the Rainiers. But what is remarkable, and encouraging, is how Atchison got through that inning.

"The arm felt good, it was just I probably was trying to overthrow a little bit," Atchison said. "It threw me off, but luckily I had a good breaking ball going and was able to manage my way through it."

You may be wondering why getting through an inning with his curveball is such an important accomplishment. It isn't, of course, unless you're recovering from an elbow injury that has wreaked havoc on that pitch throughout your rehab.

"For me this injury, with this elbow I've had it's been more on breaking pitches," the 29-year-old explains. "I've had a harder time getting back to where I could throw them with confidence. For the most part the fastballs have been alright."

Atchison is trying to come back from a strained flexor bundle in his right elbow that he suffered in spring training. He returned to Tacoma's roster on July 29, but has logged just three appearances since. It's been a frustrating season for the Mariners' 49th round draft pick in 1998.

"The most frustrating thing is it has taken longer than I had expected," the righty explained. "You have days where sometimes it still maybe doesn't feel so good but you kind of have to work through them and then go from there. It's the hard work that comes with rehabbing and trying to build the muscles back up. But it was frustrating not to be able to go out there and play, and taking this long to get back involved."

Scott is 11th on the all time Pacific Coast League strikeout list with 292, and he needs just nine to tie Al Stanek for 10th on the list. In his three innings of work for the Rainiers, Atchison has logged five strikeouts. But Atchison would prefer not to stick around Triple-A long enough for that to happen.

"Obviously [my goal is] to get back to the big leagues and finish up the season there," says Atchison. "And finish healthy. Finish strong and finish healthy, so I can build on it going into next year."

And what does he feel he needs to do to accomplish those goals?

"I want to get back to where I was at the end of last year when I felt I was throwing the ball as well as I've ever thrown it," says Atchison. "It's not up to me or anything, it's just going out and trying to throw the ball well and be effective. Health has been a big thing these first few outings, making sure the arm is fine. Now that I feel like the arm is good, I just go out and do what I do and let it go from there."

If his arm is as healthy as his recent production has suggested – he hasn't allowed a hit in his last two appearances - his goal should be realized this September when Major League rosters expand. Until then, he'll try to put together an appearance where all his pitches work for him.

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