Brewers Take Look In Mirror With Pitching Symposium





MILWAUKEE—The Brewers are determined to find a way to reverse the trend of their pitching prospects flaming out before they reach the big leagues.

That topic was addressed at an internal pitching symposium in Phoenix in mid-January. Pitching coaches, trainers, medical staff, scouts and instructors from the system were on hand to exchange ideas and information.

"The major benefit was getting everybody together to give input to the process," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "It was a great morale booster. Everybody now feels they have a vested interest."

New pitching coach Rick Peterson is a firm believer in the science of biomechanics, which analyzes motions of pitchers with the goal of reducing injuries and enhancing production. Under team physician William Raasch and head trainer Roger Caplinger, the Brewers already had begun implementing that system, so everybody was on the same page during the symposium.

"One of the goals is to identify pitchers at risk, both in the system and for our scouting department (when considering amateurs before the draft)," Ash said.

"Once those pitchers are identified, we can implement a series of drills that will help those at risk. Dr. Raasch will identify those players and our instructors will work with them on those drills. It's a very proactive program."

Perhaps such a program could have prevented or lessened injuries to first-round righthanders Mike Jones (2001) and Mark Rogers (2004).

Just three members of last year's big league staff were drafted and developed by Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra and Mitch Stetter.

Ash said the Brewers will continue to use a tandem system in the low minors in which pitchers split starting assignments in the same game to avoid overwork. But Ash said pitch counts will be loosened a bit to assure young prospects are building up their arms.

"Rick is a big believer in long-tossing programs, that it increases a pitcher's velocity over time. We've amended our program to include that.

"(The symposium) was a good first step. Now, it's all about what we can do with it."

MICROBREWS

• College righthanders Eric Arnett and Kyle Heckathorn, taken 26th and 47th overall last June, were among those invited to big league camp.

• Outfielder Norris Hopper, 30, signed a minor league deal with Brewers. He batted .281/.337/.330 over 409 at-bats in Triple-A last season, when he spent time with the Reds, White Sox and Nationals.