Enns Likes Where He's Headed

TAMPA, FL - There are no three words that a pitcher dreads hearing more than “Tommy John surgery”. Dietrich Enns was called and told the bad news last season, a season in which he was limited to only 25.1 innings pitched. Rehabbing his way back now, however, he likes where he's headed.

“It’s one of the toughest phone calls you’ll get in your life, knowing what lies ahead” Enns said. “It’s at least 12 months of recovery and working your way back. Mentally it’s probably tougher than physically”.

Enns was able to start throwing 16 weeks after he got the surgery, working every day, but having to be patient during the gradual progression of building up arm strength following Tommy John surgery.

His first action of the season came in a Gulf Coast League start on June 23rd against the GCL Braves. He pitched 2.2 innings giving up two hits, two walks, facing 12 batters and striking out five.

“You don’t get that feeling [of just throwing bullpens] then you start facing hitters and you get that butterfly feeling and get a little nervous, but amped up for it, it’s a pretty cool feeling,” Enns said about his debut start in which he pitched in his first game in over a year.

While he has only pitched 19 innings this season [eight with Tampa across two games, including one start] this season, Enns is happy with the way he has been pitching up to this point.

“So far I think it’s been pretty good. It’s been a good transition from throwing in the GCL to throwing here. I need to continually work on all my pitches and tune them up. I can always get better, but I like where I’m at and where I’m headed.”

Tampa pitching coach Tommy Phelps has also been impressed with Enns’ return but does say that he still has work that needs to be done.

“Good fastball, good swing and miss capabilities," Phelps said. "He hasn’t had his changeup like I’ve heard he has before. It hasn’t been as consistent, his slider is pretty decent but it’s just getting the feel. He hasn’t pitched in over a year so it’s just a matter of him getting back and getting the reps and getting the experience [again]."

A pitcher returning from surgery is much more vulnerable in their return season and therefore their physical workload must be watched closer and with more caution.

“It’s a process, you want to make sure he’s not fatigued and he’s staying healthy," Phelps added. "A lot of it is just getting that feel back, whether it’s side work, flat work or during daily throwing program, getting him back on track and in a routine and he can be able to repeat.

“I want to get him healthy and get the innings in that he can this year, and then to get him ready for next season.”

While getting innings and reps are most important this year coming back from Tommy John, manager Dave Bialas confirmed that Enns will have a set limit every game. This will either be 75 pitches, or five innings, whichever one comes first.

“He only has so many innings and we’re not trying to do anything quick with him," Bialas said. "A guy coming off Tommy John, they’re on a set plan, a certain amount of innings and a certain amount of pitches. It’s just a matter of getting him innings.”

Bialas also praised the way Enns has been pitching even though it has been a very small sample size.

“He has good stuff, good live fastball good movement on it, breaking pitch and changeup. He overall has good stuff. I think he has Major League stuff, no doubt. The velocity is there, the movement, the life, he throws strikes. His command is okay it could always be better.”

Much like Phelps, Bialas’ goal for the season is to get Enns innings and to get him readjusted to pitching again.

“It’s a step at a time when you come off surgery like that. Hopefully by the progression he has had, when it comes next year he’ll be 100 percent and ready to roll," Bialas concluded.

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