A few days before the Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training, the team added one more pitcher to the mix when they signed former New York Mets reliever David Aardsma to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
Since 2010, the 33-year-old right-hander has suffered injuries to his left hip labrum, his right elbow and had surgery to repair a torn abductor muscle, limiting him to just 40 innings.
The three operations took a lot off of Aardsma’s fastball, but according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, Aardsma is making his way back:
At my best, I was a high-90s [mph] guy,” Aardsma said. “Last year, even though I got outs, I was 86-89, and I knew that wasn’t good enough. In the tryout, I was back up to 92. I think there’s more there.”
The reason behind this rebirth, according to Aardsma, is the Internet. When the 2014 season ended, he started surfing the Web for video of pitchers who maintained fastball velocity through their mid-30s. After watching videos of Mariano Rivera, Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, he found a link that led him to another video of Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman housed on the website of Brent Pourciau, who was demonstrating to a college pitcher how Chapman’s obtains his high velocity through mechanics.
Aardsma contacted Pourciau and after talking, they both agreed that Aardsma would be best served by working intensely at his clinic, Guerilla Baseball Academy in New Orleans. He decided to attend the academy and worked for the future of his career. On February 11, Aardsma held a workout for about 25 scouts and four days later was signed by the Dodgers.
With the injury to closer Kenley Jansen, Aardsma has a good shot to make the Major League club if he proves he can return to his 2009-2010 form when he saved 69 games for the Seattle Mariners, and that is what he will be looking to do:
I’ve always had the mindset that I have to earn a job,” he said. “I’m confident in what I’ve done during the offseason that I’ve put myself in position to control my own destiny. All I ask for is the chance to show what I can do, and they’ll make the decision.”
Based on the attention Aardsma was getting from manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt during his first bullpen session, he will definitely get his opportunities this spring.
Dodgers FanFest – Howie Kendrick