I attended a clinic for members of our local little league that featured Scott Sheridan, the head trainer for the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a seminar designed to introduce coaches, trainers, and parents to the methods of conditioning young pitchers.
To my disappointment, the majority of the clinic was run by local people who, although they were very informative, had never actually touched a Phillie. I was eager to share my coffee breath with someone who had.
So, I sat patiently with my son as they started the clinic with warm up exercises, complete with hot young men to demonstrate. But my attention spiked when the speaker told us the next exercises were designed to “…open those hips.”
Instantly I knew I was in the right place. I fought the urge to volunteer.
Then they showed us drills that were important for achieving optimal cocking position.
I can’t even comment.
They explained that it’s important to work the non-dominant side equally as hard as the dominant side, and that a player should develop his decelerators (front side) to the same extent he works the accelerators (backside), perhaps even moreso.
The information they presented with concern for the health of young players was so valuable, I’d almost forgotten why we were there.
Then it was time. The man of the hour was introduced and I was as giddy as a middle-aged woman with an autographed picture of Zac Efron and too much privacy.
Scott Sheridan took the podium with his 2008 World Series ring glistening in the gymnasium glare. He’s physically touched every member of the Philadelphia Phillies—how’s a girl possibly expected to concentrate?
What a professional. What an invaluable resource. What a cool guy. I want to stalk him. I’ll bet you didn’t know this, but Scott’s only training aid for the Phillies is elastic tubing. I have a room in my house where that stuff would work great. I think I can order it cheaply by the foot and really tie up...
I’m sorry. Where was I?
That’s right, Scott Sheridan. He shared that warming up is extremely important but being too limber is actually a detriment. Overstretching is not an advantage. And too much hyperflexion in a shoulder during a pitch is something he especially watches for in hurlers from the Dominican Republic.
He said the most important thing you could do with your young pitching prospect is play catch. Throw the long ball. He starts short—at 45 feet or closer and works his way up over time, but he doesn’t recommend exceeding 100 throws. To prove his point, he said he helped Randy Wolf successfully recover from elbow surgery in this exact manner. By the time Randy was ready to pitch, Scott himself could throw a ball in excess of 200 feet with no pain. And he said with a body like his, that’s a feat.
I was dying to be the judge of that.
He also stated that when an MLB pitcher throws 35 or more pitches in an inning, injury potential elevates. Then a Little League umpire explained that kids’ coaches are required to limit the number of innings a youngster pitches, but the rule does nothing to limit the number of pitches. This appeared to be a huge concern among therapists and trainers.
The coolest thing about hearing Mr. Sheridan (and the entire staff) speak was I got the feeling there’s one word that describes a successful Little League program. And it’s not training or preparation. It’s fun.
Of course when it was over, it was time for questions and answers. So I stopped daydreaming and focused: I had some very important questions. First, I had to know if the Phillies planned a Jayson Werth thong giveaway on Mother’s Day.
Okay. Maybe it wasn’t the venue. I reconsidered.
However, earlier he had stated that Tim Lincecum’s mechanics aren’t the best so I had to know if he thought that put the young pitcher at risk for developing injuries.
Considering Licecum has two Cy Young awards to his name, Scott had no concerns. Matter of fact if a pitcher’s mechanics are getting the job done, he doesn’t recommend screwing with him, although I would highly recommend it. But he’d never make a professional recommendation in this regard because teams have coaches who are paid to worry about that.
He also doesn’t support pitching a young person year round; time off is just as important as time on. And I take it Scott’s a big proponent of the pitch count. A man after my own heart. I didn’t ask him if he thought the off games Cliff Lee pitched last year were the result of his prior complete games because I didn’t want to make a clinic about Little League all about me. But I did get to ask if the team had a mandatory workout rule.
The answer was ‘no.’ Even though we just sat through a seminar on the basics of conditioning a pitcher—backed by data supplied by people far more intelligent than me, the team doesn’t require a multi-million dollar player to pursue optimal conditioning. Scott’s smile would suggest it’s an enigma too.
Last but not least, there’s a reason I sat in the front row. First, my boy’s only four feet tall. Second, I wanted to shake Mr. Sheridan’s hand when it was all said and done.
And I did. And he wears that “ring” on his right hand. Katy Perry thinks she’s cool ‘cause she “kissed a girl,” but I touched a 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series Championship ring. And the man wearing it said, “Good questions.”
Good thing I didn’t start with the thong.
Well, I went home and removed the autographed picture of Zac Efron from my wall to clear it for the future accomplishments of the 2009 National League Champions—a team that is where it is because of the support of people like Scott Sheridan.
I don’t get to say, “I kissed a Phil,” but I touched one.
Maybe next time…
Many thanks to the staff of West Side Little League and the KineticPT team at the ACAC in West Chester, PA for a great opportunity.
See you at the ballpark.