Pitching coach Mickey Callaway, while speaking with the media at Tribe Fest on Saturday, revealed that Tribe reliever Vinnie Pestano injured his elbow in the World Baseball Classic last March, leading to a change in Pestano's mechanics:
"I think some of that WBC injury really trained his arm to do something different than he's done in the past. The reason Vinnie was so good in the past, is that he has unorthodox mechanics. When he had a little bit of an injury in the WBC, he started throwing like a normal person, which isn't good. I told him at the end of the year, I've never told anybody to have bad mechanics. We got to make sure he's following through the right way so he's getting that cut back on his fastball and that life through the zone. I'm fairly positive he'll get that back."
That Pestano was injured in the WBC isn't a major surprise, but it's something the team ever really acknowledged, and it didn't keep him from appearing in 7 games during the season's first 3 weeks. He then went on the 15-day DL with elbow inflammation. He was hit hard after he returned in late May, and while his run prevention picked up in June, he was giving up a lot of hits and walked 11 batters in 15.1 innings before the Indians sent him to Triple-A to try and get himself right. He returned in September, but appeared in only 3 games, all in low-leverage situations.
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It's easy to get carried away in believing Callaway can fix whatever might be wrong, given the turnarounds by Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir in 2013, and it's encouraging to think Pestano might not have suffered any serious physical decline, and is instead just in need of some tweaking in order to get back to the mechanics that allowed him to be among the best relievers in baseball in 2011 and 2012.
The Tribe bullpen is a big question mark at this point, but getting the old Vinnie back would go a long way towards making the unit a success in 2014.