Goody So Close To His Pre-Injury Form

TRENTON, NJ - Recovering from Tommy John surgery and getting back one's stuff and command requires a lot of patience, not only from the fans and the media but from the recouping players themselves. Right-hander Nick Goody didn't look like his normal self when he returned from the surgery last year but he's beginning to look like his pre-surgery self so far in 2015 with the Thunder.

Entering big league camp, Nick Goody was surrounded by Yankees who were locks to make the Opening Day roster, while he was out to make strides in improving on a forgetful 2014 at Double-A, where he pitched to a 4.60 ERA.

Coming off his first season since Tommy John surgery, he was looking to pick Yankee pitchers’ brains and put in his work to condition his arm, all while working several other jobs to help afford an apartment for him and his fiancé.

“You’ve got to make enough money throughout the week to be able to afford to live in the apartment,” Goody said. “Then you also have to make sure you’re getting ready for the season because that’s the most important thing.”

Now with the Trenton Thunder in 2015, Goody is off to a start reminiscent of his pre-injury form as he holds a 1.38 ERA through 13 innings, while striking out 19. However, Goody recognizes his teammates and coaches as the reasons for his early success.

“I just try and keep it one day at a time and take it one pitch at a time,” he said. “I don’t really look at the numbers; I try not to. Just getting out there, we have a great group of guys in the bullpen.

"This whole team is awesome, knowing, going out there, that no matter what happens, you have somebody that’s ready to come in there and step up if they need to.”

Last year, with the Tampa Yankees, Goody appeared in twelves games, pitching to a 2.25 ERA before receiving the call to move up to the Thunder. At the higher level, he struggled with a 6.75 ERA in 15 appearances.

"Last year was tough," Goody admitted. "it was my first year coming back [from Tommy John surgery], and I didn’t really have all of my pitches.

"It was hit-or-miss some days and I know that was a burden on the ’pen last year, going out and not being able to get through an inning or two innings. It was tough; it was really frustrating.”

Now even further removed from the surgery, Goody says his elbow feels better than ever and he expressed an eagerness to take the mound every game, even if that may be taxing on his arm.

He’s excited to put an arsenal that features a fastball, slider and changeup to the test every night, as he feels comfortable using any of those pitches no matter the count. Although he admits he hasn’t had to use the changeup that often and has relied mostly on the fastball-slider combination to generate swings and misses.

“I throw a slider and a changeup,” he said. “Both I use pretty much any time in the count. The changeup I haven’t thrown that much this year as I did last year, but it’s still a good pitch for me. I’ve got a lot of confidence in it.”

Manager Al Pedrique credits Goody’s ability to live in the lower half of the strike zone for the relief pitcher’s reliability in 2015.

“He’s keeping the ball down often now,” he said. “The one thing he needs to do on a consistent basis is working ahead in the count, and I think the last couple of outings he has shown that. We’re hoping that he will continue staying aggressive, attacking the strike zone, getting ahead in the count and then he will show better command with his breaking ball.”

Goody understands fastball velocity sometimes takes a while to return after the surgery but he isn’t worried about lighting up the radar gun. He’s talked to the Yankees’ setup man and Tommy John survivor Dellin Betances about coming back from the injury.

“Last year around this time, I was starting games, and I was like 88-90 something,” Goody said. “So from this standpoint, I’m doing better right now. I talked to Dellin Betances about that in Spring Training, and he said it’ll come. He had Tommy John, and he said mid-season is when he started getting it.”

Despite a fastball that doesn't hit the mid-90s like it used to, Goody has been able to strikeout more than 13 batters per nine innings. Pitching coach José Rosado believes the break on Goody’s slider, as well as his ability to mix pitches, is the reason for his swing-and-miss stuff.

“[He’s able to strike hitters out by] mixing it up and being able to locate his fastball,” Rosado said. “When you’re working ahead in the count, that gives you a chance to use your secondary pitches, and he’s got a good one — he’s got a good slider.”

Even with his strong start to 2015, Goody wants to focus on going about his business the right way and playing the way he knows he’s capable of.

“You want to go out and be the best you can be,” he said. “Obviously I would like to win a Double-A championship here in Trenton, and with the team we have, I think it’s more than doable. I would say that and just be a good teammate.”

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