Humber Thankful For Tommy John Surgery

Sometimes pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery better than they were before, and Philip Humber is a prime example. Just twelve months after having the surgery, Humber has added a brand new pitch, rediscovered his velocity, throwing his fastball with more ease, and has a new perspective to his game.

"It's going by really fast," Phil Humber said of his recuperation from Tommy John surgery. "Looking back right when it happened, when they told me it would be at least a year before you pitch in games, it sounds like a long time. The first few months of doing the rehab, real small - seemingly small things like your shoulder exercises, you're not able to pick up a ball."

"It seems like it's [pitching in games] forever away," he continued. "Looking back though, it has really flown by. I'm thankful I haven't had any setbacks so far and so far, I couldn't ask for a better recovery."

It was exactly 346 days between minor league starts for Phil Humber, who had Tommy John surgery last July. Not only has he returned to the mound quicker than some had anticipated, but his arm strength is not even a question mark.

"My arm strength is good," Humber said if his stuff came back pretty quickly from the surgery. "They put you on the throwing program and I keep myself in good shape. That was not a problem as far as pure velocity. It came back better than it was last year, back to where I was used to throwing in college and before I got hurt."

"The thing that has taken a while, and something that I'm still struggling with, is command of all of my pitches. Certain games I'll have command of the fastball down low in the zone and that's when I have success. Other games I've had trouble getting the fastball up. That's something that I'll have to be constantly working on. But I feel like I'm getting better and better every time out."

"I'm happy with the arm strength and how that goes," Humber continued. "I'm able to throw my breaking ball as good as I want to throw it. And now, the good thing about the rehab is, I've developed a good changeup. So I've got three good pitches now and get people out with."

Binghamton pitching coach Mark Brewer has liked what he has seen from the former first-round pick. Not only does a see a pitcher with good arm strength, but he sees one getting stronger with each start.

"He has gained strength from his first time out," Mark Brewer said of Humber. "That's what it is all about for him this year, is making sure he stays healthy and he gets better along the way. Up to this point you see a power curveball, a fastball anywhere from 91-94 MPH on a consistent basis, and his changeup is starting to come along. He's starting to gain more feel for that pitch and more confidence in throwing it."

One of the tangible benefits of going through the rehab process of Tommy John surgery has been the rapid development of a now plus changeup. In fact, Humber believes Tommy John surgery has made him a more complete pitcher.

"Doing the throwing program everyday, you start out doing 15 throws at 45-feet, doing three sets of that. It's just a lot of catch. You play catch a lot so I figured why not tinker with it," said Humber.

"A changeup is just a fastball with a different grip. It's not going to hurt your elbow doing that. I wasn't throwing a lot of curveballs early on because they want you to hold off on that until pretty much the end. So I was able to do that [throw the changeup]. The more you throw it, the better it gets. That's how it happened for me and I'm really confident in it now."

Prior to being selected third overall in the 2004 MLB Draft out of Rice University, one of the big knocks on Humber was a below average changeup.

"Before when I tried to throw a changeup, I kind of pushed it," Humber admitted. "It was a totally different pitch. I've really taken to it, surprisingly. Because in college I threw a split-finger because I didn't like the changeup. It's been a good pitch for me and it has gotten a lot of outs for me. It's getting better and better the more I'm throwing it."

With the changeup making him a more complete pitcher on the mound, one of the other added benefits of the Tommy John surgery has been his fastball. While he hasn't picked up any velocity from his college days, he is throwing harder than he was a year ago and he is also throwing his fastball with more ease of motion.

"I'm throwing around 91-94 MPH again," said the 23-year old. "I think the rest of my career, that's pretty much where I'll stay. I might pick up a couple of miles per hour here and there, but that's just where I pitch. That's where I pitched in college. Even now though, it's easier for me to throw that now."

"There's not as much effort involved in it and it comes out easier," he continued. "I feel like that's plenty of velocity for me with the other two pitches that I have. I've just got to do a better job of locating it more consistently."

Mark Brewer is happy with Humber's progression and arm strength thus far. But like Humber, he too wants to see more consistency.

"Consistency with his delivery along with staying healthy is the more important part for me, and gaining strength," Brewer listed as what he believes Humber needs to do to make that next step in his development. "Consistency with his fastball and continuing to gain confidence in his changeup, because he's definitely got confidence in his curveball."

Picking up his first career double-A victory on Wednesday night, tossing six shutout innings against Portland, Humber is no longer rehabbing - he's pitching and inching his way closer to the big leagues.

"In my mind there's definitely a mind-frame from his standpoint to pitch at the big league level," Brewer said of Humber. "He's got that I think. I think that's something the Mets' scouting department saw and that's one of the reasons he was drafted high, along with the stuff that he had at that point. Gaining confidence, being able to command both sides of the plate with his fastball, that's where he needs to be to pitch at the big league level."

Gaining confidence with each passing start and with his health no longer an issue, Humber realizes his lifelong dream of reaching the big leagues may not be that far off and he is looking forward to joining Mike Pelfrey as the young one-two punch on the mound for the Mets sometime soon.

"Yeah we'd love to do that," Humber said of he and Pelfrey getting to the big leagues and pitching together. "We've talked about that in the past. When he got here in Spring Training, we hit it off really good. I knew there was some things I could help him out with, as far as we came in with the same situation...college pitcher who was coming into his first experience in pro ball and in big league camp."

"We've developed a good relationship and we stay in touch. When he and Henry Owens, who I've roomed with, got called up it was exciting for me. It kind of motivated me, just knowing that last year Owens was in the same league I was in. This year he came into double-A, got his opportunity, and the same thing with Mike. In his very first year, the run he had was pretty amazing. I'm rooting for those guys and I want to get up there with them."

"It's not so much competition as it is a challenge," he continued. "I want to show what I can do up there. Everybody wants to get to the big leagues. The fact they got up there with the same path that I'm taking, it does show me I can get up there from here. It's only a phone call away now. I don't feel like I'm rehabbing anymore. I really feel like now that I'm here, any day now when it starts clicking, whenever they feel like I'm ready, I can go. There's nothing holding me back."

Mentally and physically strong, Phil Humber has learned a lot during his rehab process, a lot more than he bargained for over a year ago. If it sounds as if he he's almost glad he had Tommy John surgery, it's because he is.

"I definitely think there's a lot of positives to take out of it," said Humber. "You never want to take twelve months out of your career but I feel like I got a lot out of those twelve months. Mentally, as far as being able to step back and get some perspective on things. And physically, I feel like I've come back a lot stronger. I know how to take care of my arm better. And I've picked up a new pitch and I feel like I've got three plus pitches now."

"So there's a lot of positives to take out of it and I'm thankful it happened. So far I've been able to come back and be better than I was before. Now it's just a matter of taking that and running with it. I don't have any regrets."

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It's going by really fast,\" Phil Humber said of his recuperation from Tommy John surgery. \"Looking back right when it happened, when they told me it would be at least a year before you pitch in games, it sounds like a long time. The first few months of doing the rehab, real small - seemingly small things like your shoulder exercises, you're not able to pick up a ball.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It seems like it's [pitching in games] forever away,\" he continued. \"Looking back though, it has really flown by. I'm thankful I haven't had any setbacks so far and so far, I couldn't ask for a better recovery.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt was exactly 346 days between minor league starts for Phil Humber, who had Tommy John surgery last July. Not only has he returned to the mound quicker than some had anticipated, but his arm strength is not even a question mark.
\r\n
\r\n\"My arm strength is good,\" Humber said if his stuff came back pretty quickly from the surgery. \"They put you on the throwing program and I keep myself in good shape. That was not a problem as far as pure velocity. It came back better than it was last year, back to where I was used to throwing in college and before I got hurt.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"The thing that has taken a while, and something that I'm still struggling with, is command of all of my pitches. Certain games I'll have command of the fastball down low in the zone and that's when I have success. Other games I've had trouble getting the fastball up. That's something that I'll have to be constantly working on. But I feel like I'm getting better and better every time out.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm happy with the arm strength and how that goes,\" Humber continued. \"I'm able to throw my breaking ball as good as I want to throw it. And now, the good thing about the rehab is, I've developed a good changeup. So I've got three good pitches now and get people out with.\"
\r\n
\r\nBinghamton pitching coach Mark Brewer has liked what he has seen from the former first-round pick. Not only does a see a pitcher with good arm strength, but he sees one getting stronger with each start.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has gained strength from his first time out,\" Mark Brewer said of Humber. \"That's what it is all about for him this year, is making sure he stays healthy and he gets better along the way. Up to this point you see a power curveball, a fastball anywhere from 91-94 MPH on a consistent basis, and his changeup is starting to come along. He's starting to gain more feel for that pitch and more confidence in throwing it.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the tangible benefits of going through the rehab process of Tommy John surgery has been the rapid development of a now plus changeup. In fact, Humber believes Tommy John surgery has made him a more complete pitcher.
\r\n
\r\n\"Doing the throwing program everyday, you start out doing 15 throws at 45-feet, doing three sets of that. It's just a lot of catch. You play catch a lot so I figured why not tinker with it,\" said Humber.
\r\n
\r\n\"A changeup is just a fastball with a different grip. It's not going to hurt your elbow doing that. I wasn't throwing a lot of curveballs early on because they want you to hold off on that until pretty much the end. So I was able to do that [throw the changeup]. The more you throw it, the better it gets. That's how it happened for me and I'm really confident in it now.\"
\r\n
\r\nPrior to being selected third overall in the 2004 MLB Draft out of Rice University, one of the big knocks on Humber was a below average changeup.
\r\n
\r\n\"Before when I tried to throw a changeup, I kind of pushed it,\" Humber admitted. \"It was a totally different pitch. I've really taken to it, surprisingly. Because in college I threw a split-finger because I didn't like the changeup. It's been a good pitch for me and it has gotten a lot of outs for me. It's getting better and better the more I'm throwing it.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the changeup making him a more complete pitcher on the mound, one of the other added benefits of the Tommy John surgery has been his fastball. While he hasn't picked up any velocity from his college days, he is throwing harder than he was a year ago and he is also throwing his fastball with more ease of motion.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm throwing around 91-94 MPH again,\" said the 23-year old. \"I think the rest of my career, that's pretty much where I'll stay. I might pick up a couple of miles per hour here and there, but that's just where I pitch. That's where I pitched in college. Even now though, it's easier for me to throw that now.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"There's not as much effort involved in it and it comes out easier,\" he continued. \"I feel like that's plenty of velocity for me with the other two pitches that I have. I've just got to do a better job of locating it more consistently.\"
\r\n
\r\nMark Brewer is happy with Humber's progression and arm strength thus far. But like Humber, he too wants to see more consistency.
\r\n
\r\n\"Consistency with his delivery along with staying healthy is the more important part for me, and gaining strength,\" Brewer listed as what he believes Humber needs to do to make that next step in his development. \"Consistency with his fastball and continuing to gain confidence in his changeup, because he's definitely got confidence in his curveball.\"
\r\n
\r\nPicking up his first career double-A victory on Wednesday night, tossing six shutout innings against Portland, Humber is no longer rehabbing - he's pitching and inching his way closer to the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"In my mind there's definitely a mind-frame from his standpoint to pitch at the big league level,\" Brewer said of Humber. \"He's got that I think. I think that's something the Mets' scouting department saw and that's one of the reasons he was drafted high, along with the stuff that he had at that point. Gaining confidence, being able to command both sides of the plate with his fastball, that's where he needs to be to pitch at the big league level.\"
\r\n
\r\nGaining confidence with each passing start and with his health no longer an issue, Humber realizes his lifelong dream of reaching the big leagues may not be that far off and he is looking forward to joining Mike Pelfrey as the young one-two punch on the mound for the Mets sometime soon.
\r\n
\r\n\"Yeah we'd love to do that,\" Humber said of he and Pelfrey getting to the big leagues and pitching together. \"We've talked about that in the past. When he got here in Spring Training, we hit it off really good. I knew there was some things I could help him out with, as far as we came in with the same situation...college pitcher who was coming into his first experience in pro ball and in big league camp.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"We've developed a good relationship and we stay in touch. When he and Henry Owens, who I've roomed with, got called up it was exciting for me. It kind of motivated me, just knowing that last year Owens was in the same league I was in. This year he came into double-A, got his opportunity, and the same thing with Mike. In his very first year, the run he had was pretty amazing. I'm rooting for those guys and I want to get up there with them.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not so much competition as it is a challenge,\" he continued. \"I want to show what I can do up there. Everybody wants to get to the big leagues. The fact they got up there with the same path that I'm taking, it does show me I can get up there from here. It's only a phone call away now. I don't feel like I'm rehabbing anymore. I really feel like now that I'm here, any day now when it starts clicking, whenever they feel like I'm ready, I can go. There's nothing holding me back.\"
\r\n
\r\nMentally and physically strong, Phil Humber has learned a lot during his rehab process, a lot more than he bargained for over a year ago. If it sounds as if he he's almost glad he had Tommy John surgery, it's because he is.
\r\n
\r\n\"I definitely think there's a lot of positives to take out of it,\" said Humber. \"You never want to take twelve months out of your career but I feel like I got a lot out of those twelve months. Mentally, as far as being able to step back and get some perspective on things. And physically, I feel like I've come back a lot stronger. I know how to take care of my arm better. And I've picked up a new pitch and I feel like I've got three plus pitches now.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"So there's a lot of positives to take out of it and I'm thankful it happened. So far I've been able to come back and be better than I was before. Now it's just a matter of taking that and running with it. I don't have any regrets.\"
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