Oshawa Legionnaires were prepared with their throwing program as the provincial shutdown loomed
I’m sensing some deja vu here. In another shutdown a few weeks ago, we saw another delay in the start of the summer baseball season and, once again, the timeline for pitchers ramping up for the beginning of the season was shifted. Because of this, we need to keep in mind the toll pitchers are going through staying in game-ready shape without direct supervision from the coaching staff. However, teams like the Oshawa Legionnaires have a throwing program designed to keep their players off of the injured list while continuing player development.
Shawn Earle is the coach for the Oshawa Legionnaires 15U Elite coach and checks in on his players to make sure that their work is staying on track. “Our guys should be good to go,” Earle said when asked about the state of his pitchers as they train. “As they had only thrown to pens of 20 pitches at 80% so we didn’t really get the chance to ramp them up [prior to lockdown]. With that said, they are continuing to simply maintain at home with plyo balls and catch play.”
A huge barrier is that coaches can’t physically be present to monitor their players’ quality of training. Earle stated, “We do wish we had the chance to always watch their plyo ball work to ensure weighted balls are always being done properly but our guys did a great job in arm care with our arm care coach and doing things right was always the focus.” It is important that the players understand that the organization values quality over quantity. Additionally, players and coaching staff have clear communication of their progress. “Our guys send videos on a regular to coaches so we can see the work being put in the right way.”
Coach Earle mentioned that the pushing of the season may have actually helped his pitching staff get into proper shape. “The change in the process timeline has actually left us in a better spot arms-wise.” He mentioned that with COVID protocols limiting inter-team competition, his pitchers had more time to warm up for the season: “With spring training being cancelled so early, it allowed us to take things a little slower as they got almost an extra two months to get arms going again for the start of the May season.”
Despite the craziness that is another provincial lockdown, teams around the league had backup plans that kept their pitchers healthy and continuing development while organized practices are put on hold. The buy-in from the players to find ways to keep their arms warm and coordinate with the coaching staff is a true accomplishment in these times where it would be so easy to sit on the couch and watch the latest Marvel TV show on repeat. But teams like Oshawa have come out on top so far as they continuing to get to peak performance as the season gets underway in the near future. “Shutdowns do hurt if your guys don’t have a strategic plan to do at home. Our guys have one so we have no worries about being healthy and ready to go.”