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Sunday, September 25th, 2016

EVERYBODY DO THE TOWEL DRILL (OR NOT)

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You. Me. All of us. If you like the game or not. We all have something in common with baseball’s Mark Prior. It’s the towel drill. Of course, I’m assuming you shower each day. I know I do. Usually. I also assume Prior takes a daily shower. And quite possibly another after his workout. That would be 2 showers and towel-drilling for a spell out on the diamond. You see where I am going with this: Could it be too much?

The towel drill is a simple movement to get a pitcher to…so their arm…or maybe their legs…and the mechanics…well what is it for anyway? It’s certainly a well-respected drill by those who teach, right? Not everyone.

Former Red Sox pitcher Dick Mills is the owner of pitching.com and the author of the blog “The Pitching Rebel” touted as “the consumer advocate against baseball pitching misinformation”. So what does he think about the drill? In an article about pitching drills, Mills says, I hope this gets you thinking about other drills – such as the “famous towel drill” that you see or others that are discussed as the best way to fix problems. Don’t be so sure. They may not only waste pitcher’s time but sports science has proven that drills are disruptive.”

One of Prior’s pitching coaches has been Tom House, who apparently is one of the creators of the “Modified Towel Drill”. At this stage of spring training, I sure hope Prior is using the modified and not full-bore version–we’re not even to March yet.

The Cubs haven’t exactly been forthcoming in relaying injury information to the media in recent years. We see one thing–Prior not throwing off of a mound after a whole offseason–and they say it’s just a “gradual throwing program”. It’s evolves into a “Are we there yet–no–are we there yet–no” circle of unnecessary banter. Yes he is injured. No he is not.

Teddy Greenstein points out that Baseball Prospectus’ Monday report revved up the story. “Reliable sources-the same ones that tipped us early to Mark Prior’s Achilles problem-now tell us that Prior is having shoulder problems. The Cubs deny this and point to Prior’s work on the mound. Prior was doing towel drills on Saturday, but this is the same type of work he was doing last year when there was a problem. According to our best sources in Mesa, Prior looks ‘weak and sick.’ Until he throws, we just won’t know, though I’d like to believe (pitching coach) Larry Rothschild.”

I can see the retort now: “What? C’mon, that is nonsense. He’s doing the towel drill for pete’s sake!!”

The other day I wrote “how is it that a 6’5″, muscular pitcher with perfect mechanics needs to stay out of some drills after 4 months off? Should the Cubs really wonder why people are skeptical?”

Or perhaps more precisely, valued reader PV says: “the Cubs have set the bar so high (low?) for untruths and obfuscations. No one will say once and for all that there are no health issues, just a lotta mumbling about getting ready for the first week of the season–which is so obviously what EVERY player in every camp is doing, that if they have to state that as a goal, there must be some doubts about his health. Whatever, he’s a fraglie little wimp in my book already–just effin’ pitch already.”

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