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Screwball Newsbeat

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Mystery of the Vanishing Screwball

“The word on the street is that the screwball is hard on the arm,” says Don Cooper, Chicago’s pitching coach. “But listen, there’s no documentation on that. Maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t throw it, but I believe no pitch is any more dangerous than any other if you have a good delivery. If you have a bad delivery, every pitch is freakin’ dangerous.”

Among baseball lifers, though, Cooper’s is decidedly a minority opinion. Lurid stories about the pitch are commonplace. “We’d be on the bus and see a guy out the window whose arm was turned out,” McCarver said, “and we’d say: ‘Yup. Old screwballer.’ ”

Jerry Dipoto, the Angels’ general manager, told me that Carl Hubbell used to visit the Giants’ training camp after his retirement. “Legend has it he’d walk in and his arm was backward,” he said. “He couldn’t get it to come back around to the appropriate position because of all the years of pronating from throwing the pitch.”

Just how a screwball causes injury was open to debate. “Too hard on the shoulder,” insisted Arizona’s manager, Kirk Gibson. “The elbow,” said the former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. Even Santiago acknowledged the possibility: “They told me it’s bad for my wrist.” He keeps throwing the pitch, he said, “because you don’t hear much about pitchers hurting their wrists.”

Never mind all those pitchers who kept using it into their late 30s and 40s, or that Valenzuela, at 53, maintains he can throw it today. When I spoke to players and coaches about the screwball, the expectation of certain injury was never far from the conversation.

Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:35 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, screwball

 

 

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