May 19, 2010

Mackey Sasser returns

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a record holder.  The man is legend for what's on the back of his jersey.

At the moment, however, he's a liability because of what's above the jersey, between his ears.

Something went wrong last year with Saltalamacchia.  There was a collision and a shoulder injury followed by a couple of surgeries.  Once Saltalamacchia returned from the injuries, however, something else had mysteriously gone wrong.

He'd become unable to make the simplest of plays for a catcher, the throw back to the mound.  After three years in the bigs and hundreds of games at all levels, after making that most routine of throws thousands of times in his life, Saltalamacchia suddenly started missing. 

He would throw the ball into center field over the head of the pitcher.  So the next time he would over compensate and throw it into the grass well short of the mound.  He shifted his release point, started throwing side arm, over the top, around the world, whatever, anything just to get back to routine.

At this point - a year after the problem first appeared - Saltalamacchia is down in AAA Oklahoma City mashing the ball and missing the mound.  In Friday's game, Saltalamacchia missed five throws in the first inning and twelve throws over all.  Apparently his throws to first or second are all just fine, but his throws to the pitcher - the ones where he has time to think about his motion - are adventures.

It's amazing just how much professional athletes run on muscle memory, on not thinking about what they're doing but rather simply clearing their minds and relying on instinct and repeating motions that they've made millions of times before.  Once they start thinking about that motion, however, instead of just making it, something goes wrong.  They become Steve Blass, Mackey Sasser, Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, and now Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  They consult doctors, hypnotists, voodoo priests, anyone who might be able to help them.

I wish Saltalamacchia luck in coming back to the majors.


calencoriel said...

I didn't click on any of your links, but have they checked to see if there isn't a synapse or two that got muddled as a result of the injury? That could cause this problem as well...

and, jeesh...that's some strange stuff.

PHSChemGuy said...

I can only assume that somewhere along the way there's been a neurological evaluation - maybe an MRI or CAT scan or sumpin - but that's purely speculation on my part. I can't find any evidence of it, no.

I do find it fascinating that athletes will discuss success in their sport in terms of NOT thinking about what they're doing and failure as not being able to clear their mind, not being able to stop thinking about what they're doing.