Q&A With Brant Rustich

The recovery of Brant Rustich has been a much anticipated one. Very few doubt the raw stuff and promise in Rustich's repertoire, but coming back from an arm injury has proven to be an on-going task. Rustich is still in St. Lucie undergoing additional rehab, but he is feeling good about his arm. In this exclusive Q&A with Inside Pitch, Rustich talks about his arm, his recovery and more.

To Discuss More About this Q&A or anything Brant Rustich, head over to the Subscribers Forum


InsidePitchMagazine.com: So the offseason has come and gone and the season has started, but how are you doing? How is the arm feeling since we last spoke?

Brant Rustich: The arm feels good. I'm slated to throw a bullpen next week. The arm has been feeling really good. This go-around with the arm we've doing a lot of proactive stuff instead of just rest and rehab. I take medication to build bone strength in my arm. I have an ultrasound machine that should make my bone heal quicker and build bone strength. It's feeling good, but I won't really know until I put max stress on it by pitching off a mound.

I won't get a good gauge on how the arm will go until then, but I'm trying to be optimistic. Right now in my throwing program, I throw 75 times four times per week Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'm throwing from 150 feet and my effort is probably about 90 percent. I can throw probably 50 throws at 90 percent effort, which is firm hard throws, and that's pretty good for this stage.

Inside Pitch: When we spoke in the winter, you mentioned that this combination of the medication and therapy was something the doctors really hoped would work. Is the belief that things are going as well as hoped?

Rustich: The last time I actually saw medical doctors was in December and then the bone specialist said I made a ton of improvement. He was very happy with my progress. In December I still had some discomfort when I began my therapy. I mentioned it to the trainers so we went to the doctor and they re-evaluated me and my arm. I had another MRI done and they said there was still a little bit more healing to be done, but they were impressed with my progress. It was going take a while to heal especially after not taking care of my arm a year ago like I am now.

I put a lot of stress arm with my delivery and my velocity, so I need to maintain the strength in my arm through the work I'm doing now. I can just hope that all I'm doing is going to work because I want to get out there and pitch. But all of that, the arm really does feel good right now. I'm letting the ball go pretty good right now. So far so good.

Inside Pitch: So what's the plan in the short term to get you ready game ready?

Rustich: Right now, I know I'm going to throw a bullpen next week. I'd imagine I'll throw five or six bullpens before I throw some live batting practice. I throw some live BPs and where I go from there I don't know. Maybe I'll get "sweat" in St. Lucie and then move up to Binghamton that'd be nice. I know the plan was to get me to Double-A this year and then maybe the Arizona Fall League if I'm healthy.

It'd be great to do exceptionally well and really get a look at something more in the second half, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I'm definitely down for going up to Binghamton in the second half and get to work in the Fall League and do well there. Whatever happens, I just know if I'm healthy I'll have a chance to make an impression.

Inside Pitch: As far as getting an assignment to a team, is just a case-by-case decision and seeing how you get stronger each week?

Rustich: I don't think we've been in a rush. I've tried to be patient this time around because the last few years I've just wanted to go out and pitch and didn't listen much to my arm. I don't want to have to work through any pain so I've been very honest with myself about my arm. I don't think anything has been rushed. I also think that once I'm healthy they won't hold me back.

I know the plan is to be relief all the time now. I will not be starting anymore. Hopefully I have a good, healthy, productive second half of baseball and I'd like it to be at Double-A and then go to the Fall League. I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been in the last two years. I'm back to about my Brooklyn weight, which is 250-255 pounds. I'm down about 5-10 pounds from last year and I'm feeling good.

Inside Pitch: You are throwing at 150 feet now and you say you are doing it without pain. Were you in pain doing the same thing last year?

Rustich: It's tough to tell. I remember my arm feeling fantastic leading up to Spring Training last year, but then I got to throwing bullpens and my arm starting going gradually downhill. I pitched well at the beginning in St. Lucie but then I noticed my arm getting progressively worse as the season went on. Then it got to certain point where I was battling through it where the pain was almost at a constant. I would take it easy in bullpens and then take as much ice as possible and then pitch five days later. By the time I went to relief, my arm was in such bad shape I couldn't pitch on a day to day basis.

Inside Pitch: Do you expect a shift in roles to guard against causing more trouble with your arm? You got opportunities at starting, but it appears those days may be over.

Rustich: Now I know I'm not going to be a starter, so I'm not going out there as a four or five-inning guy. I'm going to be a one or two-inning guy and I imagine that's going to be role. I think my pitch count will be kind of monitored, but I hope that will be a difference maker in itself. I think being a relief pitcher should make a difference for me, or at least I'm hoping it will.

Inside Pitch: So your Spring Training activity must have been fairly limited, no?

Rustich: I was on a strict throwing program. I got to St. Lucie on February 1st just to train and be here to get on the field every day. I was pretty limited in my throwing so I didn't do any throwing aside from my throwing program. I'm just doing my work, getting ready to get back on the field and ready to put all this stuff behind me.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nTo Discuss More About this Q&A or anything Brant Rustich, head over to the Subscribers Forum
\r\n
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: So the offseason has come and gone and the season has started, but how are you doing? How is the arm feeling since we last spoke?
\r\n
\r\nBrant Rustich: The arm feels good. I'm slated to throw a bullpen next week. The arm has been feeling really good. This go-around with the arm we've doing a lot of proactive stuff instead of just rest and rehab. I take medication to build bone strength in my arm. I have an ultrasound machine that should make my bone heal quicker and build bone strength. It's feeling good, but I won't really know until I put max stress on it by pitching off a mound.
\r\n
\r\n I won't get a good gauge on how the arm will go until then, but I'm trying to be optimistic. Right now in my throwing program, I throw 75 times four times per week Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'm throwing from 150 feet and my effort is probably about 90 percent. I can throw probably 50 throws at 90 percent effort, which is firm hard throws, and that's pretty good for this stage.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: When we spoke in the winter, you mentioned that this combination of the medication and therapy was something the doctors really hoped would work. Is the belief that things are going as well as hoped?
\r\n
\r\nRustich: The last time I actually saw medical doctors was in December and then the bone specialist said I made a ton of improvement. He was very happy with my progress. In December I still had some discomfort when I began my therapy. I mentioned it to the trainers so we went to the doctor and they re-evaluated me and my arm. I had another MRI done and they said there was still a little bit more healing to be done, but they were impressed with my progress. It was going take a while to heal especially after not taking care of my arm a year ago like I am now.
\r\n
\r\nI put a lot of stress arm with my delivery and my velocity, so I need to maintain the strength in my arm through the work I'm doing now. I can just hope that all I'm doing is going to work because I want to get out there and pitch. But all of that, the arm really does feel good right now. I'm letting the ball go pretty good right now. So far so good.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: So what's the plan in the short term to get you ready game ready?
\r\n
\r\nRustich: Right now, I know I'm going to throw a bullpen next week. I'd imagine I'll throw five or six bullpens before I throw some live batting practice. I throw some live BPs and where I go from there I don't know. Maybe I'll get \"sweat\" in St. Lucie and then move up to Binghamton that'd be nice. I know the plan was to get me to Double-A this year and then maybe the Arizona Fall League if I'm healthy.
\r\n
\r\nIt'd be great to do exceptionally well and really get a look at something more in the second half, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I'm definitely down for going up to Binghamton in the second half and get to work in the Fall League and do well there. Whatever happens, I just know if I'm healthy I'll have a chance to make an impression.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: As far as getting an assignment to a team, is just a case-by-case decision and seeing how you get stronger each week?
\r\n
\r\nRustich: I don't think we've been in a rush. I've tried to be patient this time around because the last few years I've just wanted to go out and pitch and didn't listen much to my arm. I don't want to have to work through any pain so I've been very honest with myself about my arm. I don't think anything has been rushed. I also think that once I'm healthy they won't hold me back.
\r\n
\r\nI know the plan is to be relief all the time now. I will not be starting anymore. Hopefully I have a good, healthy, productive second half of baseball and I'd like it to be at Double-A and then go to the Fall League. I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been in the last two years. I'm back to about my Brooklyn weight, which is 250-255 pounds. I'm down about 5-10 pounds from last year and I'm feeling good.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You are throwing at 150 feet now and you say you are doing it without pain. Were you in pain doing the same thing last year?
\r\n
\r\nRustich: It's tough to tell. I remember my arm feeling fantastic leading up to Spring Training last year, but then I got to throwing bullpens and my arm starting going gradually downhill. I pitched well at the beginning in St. Lucie but then I noticed my arm getting progressively worse as the season went on. Then it got to certain point where I was battling through it where the pain was almost at a constant. I would take it easy in bullpens and then take as much ice as possible and then pitch five days later. By the time I went to relief, my arm was in such bad shape I couldn't pitch on a day to day basis.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you expect a shift in roles to guard against causing more trouble with your arm? You got opportunities at starting, but it appears those days may be over.
\r\n
\r\nRustich: Now I know I'm not going to be a starter, so I'm not going out there as a four or five-inning guy. I'm going to be a one or two-inning guy and I imagine that's going to be role. I think my pitch count will be kind of monitored, but I hope that will be a difference maker in itself. I think being a relief pitcher should make a difference for me, or at least I'm hoping it will.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: So your Spring Training activity must have been fairly limited, no?
\r\n
\r\nRustich: I was on a strict throwing program. I got to St. Lucie on February 1st just to train and be here to get on the field every day. I was pretty limited in my throwing so I didn't do any throwing aside from my throwing program. I'm just doing my work, getting ready to get back on the field and ready to put all this stuff behind me.
\r\n
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