Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Patterson's Not A Wuss

Or so sez Texas' pitching coach (and Patterson's original pitching coach) Mark Connors. (via Lone Star Ball)
Connor caught Patterson on the road, driving through Alabama on his way back home to Texas.

"I said, 'Just be honest with me, tell me where you're at and everything else.' He said, 'Goose, I'm healthy. My arm doesn't hurt.' He said, 'I just need a little more time. My arm strength isn't there yet.' He told me he was throwing 83-85 miles per hour and that's exactly what our reports were on him."

Time is something the Rangers have to offer Patterson. They can let him build up his arm and work his way back at his own pace. They don't feel a need to rush things, like the Nationals did.

"If we can get him back to where he was two years ago, he's a pretty good pitcher," Connor said. "If he can get back to the 88-92 [mph] range, the way he pitches and the command he's got, he can help us.

"When he was with us in Arizona, he was a kid with a big upside. He came out firing bullets, 95-96 miles an hour at that time."

OK, that was then. Now Patterson has earned a reputation as a pitcher who is constantly hurt. So how do you delicately ask someone if a guy has turned into a wuss?

With Goose, you just ask.

"He's got good makeup," Connor said. "I can't really speak for what's gone on with him in the last seven years, but I've never heard that he was soft....

Connor hopes to have him out on a back field sometime today so he can get a sense of where Patterson is at physically.

"It sounds to me like he needs to get on a long-toss program, maybe not every day, mix in some bullpen sessions, and when we feel like the time is right, then get him back on the mound and face some hitters," Connor said.

After that, maybe a rehab stint at Oklahoma City, and then, who knows?

"He could be ready to go by the end of April or sometime in May," Connor said.

If I had to bet, I'd say that what happened is that the Nats asked him to go to the minors to build up the arm strength. He refused, so they cut him instead. Patterson's always seemed very headstrong (going back to his draft-eluding maneuver) and given the history he's had with the team's current management, I can't see him going out of his way to help them out, even if that means accepting a reduced role and less pay in a different city. Sometimes you'll do things for the new boss you like that you just wouldn't do for the leather-pants-wearing prick at your old job.

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