Orioles right-hander Pat Neshek recaptures velocity, control and confidence

March 31, 2012|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles right-hander Pat Neshek, a non-roster invitee who hasn’t allowed as run in nine relief innings this spring, finally feels healthy again after having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

This spring, he’s shown he’s regained his velocity, his control and his confidence.

“I feel a lot better than last year,” Neshek said Saturday, a day after making his first back-to-back appearance of the spring, a perfect 2/3 inning againt the Tigers. “I kind of feel where I was before the surgery.

“I think I’m there. I’m really happy. It’s only taken three years. I was talking to Luis Ayala and he had Tommy John and he said it took him four years. After last year, you start saying, Man, I’m putting everything into this and I’m not getting anywhere. You want to keep going but it’s tough, I don’t know what happened this offseason.”

It will still be difficult for Neshek to make the Orioles’ 25-man roster out of camp because since he’s signed to a minor-league deal he can easily be send to Triple-A Norfolk and he the team would have to allocate a 40-man roster spot for him, but the 31-year-old said he’s fine with starting the season in the minors.

“The biggest thing is just feeling good and knowing that I think I will be successful,” Neshek said. “That’s really all that matters. It would be nice (to make the team), but if not now, then in a month or two. You really want to look at the end goal.”

Neshek, who owns one of the more unconventional sidearm deliveries in baseball, struggled with his control – which was one of his strengths during his seasons as the Twins’ setup man in last season with the Padres (22 walks in 24 2/3 innings), but this spring he has seven strikeouts and no walks and has hit high 80s and peaked at 90 with ease.

"It’s great for yourself,” Neshek said. “I think my deception is the biggest thing with how I throw but knowing I’ve got a little bit more on it, you defeinitel get the foul balls, guys aren’t making as good contact. That’s what I’m noticing this spring. Last year, there were flashes of 88-89, in maybe a real good game 90. That was very few. This year it seems I’m doing it at ease, like I’m hitting 88 without putting much into it, and that’s the pretty cool thing about it, because last year I was probably about 85-86.”

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