I love this article on Sports Illustrated about Trevor Bauer:
Bauer throws at least six days a week with baseballs, weighted balls or medicine balls. He long-tosses 380 feet, even before starts. He warms up for his outings with about 45 pitches in the bullpen, and during especially long innings when his team is at bat, he heads back to the pen for more work. On his first warmup toss between innings, he crow hops across the mound and unleashes a fastball more than 100 miles per hour. This past season at UCLA, where Bauer was National Pitcher of the Year, he led the country in strikeouts (203 in 136 2/3 innings), led the Pac-10 with a 1.25 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .154 batting average. More remarkably, his last nine outings were all complete games, and in only one did he throw fewer than 130 pitches. After each of them he was out long-tossing the next day.
Major league executives have been conditioned to wince at such a regimen, assuming all that throwing will weaken the arm and eventually lead to injury. Over the past 20 years most organizations have tried to protect young starters by barring them from long-tossing more than 120 feet, or from throwing more than 30 pitches in the bullpen or more than 100 in a game. The intentions were admirable. The results, as evidenced by thousands of elbow and shoulder surgeries, have been catastrophic.
Bauer saw what those organizations did and then weighed it against information he collected from coaches, classes, books, videos and personal experience. “I just felt like there was a more efficient way for me,” he says. He concluded that his throwing regimen actually strengthened his arm, as long as it was in concert with extensive stretching and sound mechanics. Before this year’s draft, he arranged face-to-face meetings with representatives from the clubs interested in him. He wanted to explain the specifics of his routine and the rationale behind it. He was willing to sacrifice a better slot in the draft—and therefore potentially accept a lower signing bonus—to be with an organization that trusted him.
And on what it takes to make it at the highest level:
In elementary school Bauer was teased by classmates because he wore baseball pants instead of jeans. In high school he was taunted by teammates because he carried a six-foot plastic shoulder tube that loosened his arm. Coaches called it Linus’s blanket. “A lot of people don’t want to be different,” Bauer says. “And if they are, they hide it so no one holds it against them. But I didn’t want to be at the mall at 10 p.m. I wanted to be at the park.”
“Look, I’m not that big,” says Bauer, who is 6’1″, 185. “I’m not that strong. I’m not fast. I’m not explosive. I can’t jump. I wasn’t a natural-born athlete. I was made.”
Athletes are made. Not born.
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