By Joe Christensen
Twins reliever Pat Neshek updated the readers of his blog Monday with good news about his progress coming back from Tommy John surgery:
I’ve been throwing fastballs and change-ups at full speed off the mound and my arm feels better than it did before I went down during the season in 08. This week we start with sliders and I’m excited because that’s my pitch!
Following up, we sent an e-mail to see how it’s gone so far with the slider, and Neshek sent an enthusiastic response from Fort Myers, Fla.:
I had an excellent bullpen session [Thursday] throwing all three pitches. I’m throwing max effort right now and it feels great. I have about 3 weeks left then I’m technically done with rehab but I will stay down here and work out with [Twins strength and conditioning coach Perry Castellano] all winter.
[Twins rehab coordinator] Lanning Tucker and Perry noticed my arm slot was a little higher…kind of like how I was in 2006 and 07…in 08 my arm got tired and my shoulder would slope down and that’s pretty much what caused my injury.
Being on top a little more is making my slider run a lot. Also we didn’t have a radar gun out but today it felt like I was throwing harder than the start of the 08 season. I’m pretty excited this was a great day mentally.
That should be encouraging news for the Twins, especially considering Neshek posted a 2.19 ERA in 2006 and a 2.94 ERA in 2007 before posting a 4.73 ERA in an injury-shortened 2008.
By Feb. 21, when Twins pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Neshek will be 15 months removed from the reconstructive elbow surgery, and it sounds like he’ll be at full strength.