DeCarr Feeling A Difference Already

Austin DeCarr's season was essentially over really ever before it began, succumbing to Tommy John surgery in May after just a handful of Spring Training and Extended Spring Training appearances. He's already throwing again, however, and he says he can already feel a difference.

A lot was expected of Austin DeCarr, last year's third round pick, heading into his first full season this year. However, he was limited to just two games in his first ever Spring Training this year and didn't pitch much more than that in Extended Spring Training before being shut down for good.

"I threw a little bit [in Spring Training]," he said. "I threw some in games and then they shut me down with some elbow inflammation. It just didn't feel right.

"I threw in some sim games after that. I think it came down a total of three innings in Spring Training and then I shut it down again. I threw a little bit in Extended and then I got Tommy John [surgery]. I never really got in a rhythm there."

Between the two shortened camps he pitched a grand total of six innings and he says it's because his arm never really felt right from the start.

"When I started throwing indoors during the winter it was feeling a little tight but I didn't think much about it because I was just getting back into throwing again and I had taken about three months off from throwing," he said. "I was just getting back into the swing of things and getting used to throwing everyday again; that's what I kind of thought it was.

"Then when I got to Spring Training some days it felt alright but sometimes didn't feel great, and my velo wasn't where I thought it was going to be. It just didn't feel like I thought I was going to feel so once it kept getting tighter and tighter they wanted me to get it checked out."

The whole surgery process actually went pretty quickly. He last pitched in an Extended Spring Training game on May 2nd. He went to Pensacola to see Dr. Andrews on May 11th and had Tommy John surgery the following day.

"I had a feeling I was going to need it [a week earlier] when I got the MRI results and on the 11th I knew I was definitely going to get it the next day. Obviously at first I was pretty disappointed but once I decided to get it I thought there was no point dwelling on it.

"I just knew that I was going to turn it into a positive so I've just been working pretty hard getting a lot stronger and better, and I actually started throwing three weeks ago. I'm going to turn this into a positive and just be better because of it."

One of the positives he saw in the timing of his surgery was having it at the start of his career. Fresh out of high school last year and with a grand total of 23.1 innings to his credit, having the surgery now affords him a bit more development time behind the scenes.

"I was talking to Andrew Bailey about that a lot when he was down here because he got it when he was 21 [years old] when he was in college. He told me 'you're kind of just starting your development so if you're going to get [Tommy John], if there's a good time to get it, now is the time'."

DeCarr is already back throwing once again. In fact, he's been throwing for three weeks now. Currently throwing on flat ground at 60 feet, he is scheduled to have his tenth throwing session on Wednesday and will remain at that distance for three more weeks. He will then move to 90 feet for eight weeks before going to 120 feet for four weeks, and then eventually getting back up on the mound.

Not worried about getting back up on the mound just yet, however, he is simply excited to be back throwing a baseball in general.

"I was very excited because it feels a lot better and knowing in the back of my mind that it's fixed you can move forward from there and continue to improve the strength of your shoulder, and your body in general. Keep improving your mechanics [is another thing]. I'm just taking it day by day and it's going real well. I'm just going to keep working."

Working hard has never been an issue with DeCarr. By all accounts he isn't just feeling better but physically looking a lot stronger too. It is still very early in his rehab process and he still has a long way to go to get back up on the mound but he says he can already feel a difference.

"Absolutely," he insisted. "I had always worked pretty hard [before] but there's a lot of stuff that goes into rehab that I've obviously never experienced before as far as the shoulder strengthening.

"I've always worked out those areas [before] but never to the level I'm doing right now. It's everyday for a long time so I'm starting to see the difference already. Hopefully I'll continue to build on it going forward."

That is an exciting proposition for a young pitcher who routinely sat in the low to mid-90s even before his Tommy John surgery. Potentially throwing harder upon his full return, especially with how strong he feels already, is just another silver lining that has DeCarr pretty excited.

"The velo was pretty good last year and I thought it was going to be all of what it was if not more this year, and it kind of wasn't. It wasn't feeling as strong as it would be so in the back of my mind I thought something might be up. I didn't really know until they went in there with the MRI and checked it out.

"Now that I'm throwing again it feels a lot different than it ever has so it's exciting to know what it's going to feel like in a year from now," he concluded.

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