For most of the first month and a half of the Major League Baseball season, Joe Blanton threw with pain. It wasn’t constant and not every day. Sometimes little adjustments helped, and he tried a lot of them. But the tweaks never stopped his shoulder from bothering him for long.
“It was changing my arm there, changing my arm there, trying to find a comfortable spot where I could compete and it wasn’t hurting,” the former Franklin-Simpson and University of Kentucky star said. “But at the same time, after doing that for so long, trying to find your arm slot is difficult.”
After the Washington Nationals placed the 36-year-old on the disabled list last week, Blanton took a week off from throwing to let his shoulder calm down. When he started again, his arm slot was “all over the place,” which is to be expected given all the tinkering. By Friday, his fourth day of throwing after that week-long hiatus, Blanton said things began to feel normal again. He threw at 120 feet with full intensity and hopes not to have to ramp up much before getting back to bullpens and major league action.
“Hopefully that [arm slot] becomes more repeatable, you get stronger, then hopefully it gets in the right spot and sort of clicks,” Blanton said.
Blanton said he does not feel too much of the weight of struggling right away on a new team. He hopes the Nationals and his teammates know his track record — they signed him, they should — and therefore understand that the first month of the season qualifies as an aberration. The numbers support that conclusion, as his batting average on balls in play against him (.368) and his home run-to-fly ball ratio (33.3 percent) are not only elevated beyond his career norms, but far above league average.
“Hopefully I can take this time to reset everything and get back where I need to be,” Blanton said. “a) healthy, b) get it back where it needs to be and go from there. Hopefully mentally act like the season starts from there, and not back the way it began before.”