Whelan Staying Confident

Kevin Whelan had an eye-opening season last year, posting a combined 2.62 ERA, 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and held opponents to a .159 average split between Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. However, Whelan was then shut down during a stint in the Arizona Fall League with what he called a strained flexor tendon in his elbow.

The rehab has been long but Whelan is finally working towards returning to last season's form with no after-effects from the injury that cost him half of a season.

"It just took longer to come back from than I expected," he said. "I missed all of Spring Training, went through Extended [Spring Training], then to Tampa, and then came [to Trenton].

"It bothered me a little bit in Tampa, then I came up here and threw two outings and it just didn't feel right so I had an arthogram done and everything turned out fine, it was just strained so I took some more time off and rehabbed it and it feels really good now."

To lose so much time after a season in which he excelled was tough, admits Whelan, but he stayed focused and was able to return with his velocity intact and his drive undiminished.

"It was really hard," he admitted. "That was a big year for me last year and every year I just want to go out there and improve. The worst thing is not being able to be out on the field. I've never been on the DL before so I was really focused on getting back on the field."

In very limited time since his return to Trenton, Whelan has put up numbers largely consistent with his totals last year. In admittedly a small sample size, Whelan has a 2.70 ERA and is holding batters to a .174 average with seven strikeouts in six and two thirds innings.

Trenton pitching coach Scott Aldred is optimistic but still tempered his expectations for this season.

"He's not back to where he was last year," said Aldred. "He's still lacking some arm strength but he's had long stretches of time where he was off so that could show up sometime at the end of the year."

Whelan, however, is not simply focused on merely getting back to last year but rather on improving on his first season with the Yankees.

"Just going out and competing, throwing strikes, and attacking hitters is the biggest thing," he said of his goals. "If you can get ahead of hitters you can kind of set them up, it lets you do things whereas if you're behind in the count it makes it tough to pitch so the biggest thing for me is going out there and getting ahead of hitters."

That is an area that needs work according to Aldred who, when asked what needed work, immediately responded.

"Command. Command of all three of his pitches," Aldred said directly. "The quality of the pitches are there he just needs to throw them consistently for strikes."

Whelan remains focused on improving and taking the final steps toward returning to the dominant level he was at last year. Just don't tell Whelan he might not be there yet.

"I don't consider myself not at last year's level," he said emphatically. "Obviously my arm strength is not going to be what it was last year so soon after the injury, I haven't thrown enough. Physically and mentally though I feel almost there.

"It's just a matter of getting innings. I don't think I'm far off [from last year] at all. I don't think I've taken a step back or anything, I think I've learned a lot from my time off and I've had time to work on a few things so I still feel I've gotten better."

That confidence bodes well for the future and has many Yankees fans excited for what the future of the bullpen can be.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nThe rehab has been long but Whelan is finally working towards returning to last season's form with no after-effects from the injury that cost him half of a season.
\r\n
\r\n\"It just took longer to come back from than I expected,\" he said. \"I missed all of Spring Training, went through Extended [Spring Training], then to Tampa, and then came [to Trenton].
\r\n
\r\n\"It bothered me a little bit in Tampa, then I came up here and threw two outings and it just didn't feel right so I had an arthogram done and everything turned out fine, it was just strained so I took some more time off and rehabbed it and it feels really good now.\"
\r\n
\r\nTo lose so much time after a season in which he excelled was tough, admits Whelan, but he stayed focused and was able to return with his velocity intact and his drive undiminished.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was really hard,\" he admitted. \"That was a big year for me last year and every year I just want to go out there and improve. The worst thing is not being able to be out on the field. I've never been on the DL before so I was really focused on getting back on the field.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn very limited time since his return to Trenton, Whelan has put up numbers largely consistent with his totals last year. In admittedly a small sample size, Whelan has a 2.70 ERA and is holding batters to a .174 average with seven strikeouts in six and two thirds innings.
\r\n
\r\nTrenton pitching coach Scott Aldred is optimistic but still tempered his expectations for this season.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's not back to where he was last year,\" said Aldred. \"He's still lacking some arm strength but he's had long stretches of time where he was off so that could show up sometime at the end of the year.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhelan, however, is not simply focused on merely getting back to last year but rather on improving on his first season with the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just going out and competing, throwing strikes, and attacking hitters is the biggest thing,\" he said of his goals. \"If you can get ahead of hitters you can kind of set them up, it lets you do things whereas if you're behind in the count it makes it tough to pitch so the biggest thing for me is going out there and getting ahead of hitters.\"
\r\n
\r\nThat is an area that needs work according to Aldred who, when asked what needed work, immediately responded.
\r\n
\r\n\"Command. Command of all three of his pitches,\" Aldred said directly. \"The quality of the pitches are there he just needs to throw them consistently for strikes.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhelan remains focused on improving and taking the final steps toward returning to the dominant level he was at last year. Just don't tell Whelan he might not be there yet.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't consider myself not at last year's level,\" he said emphatically. \"Obviously my arm strength is not going to be what it was last year so soon after the injury, I haven't thrown enough. Physically and mentally though I feel almost there.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's just a matter of getting innings. I don't think I'm far off [from last year] at all. I don't think I've taken a step back or anything, I think I've learned a lot from my time off and I've had time to work on a few things so I still feel I've gotten better.\"
\r\n
\r\nThat confidence bodes well for the future and has many Yankees fans excited for what the future of the bullpen can be.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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