Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Julian Merryweather couldn’t narrate the number of setbacks he experienced while recovering from a strained left oblique last term. He wasn’t sure if it was two or three.

The Toronto Blue Jays, who were listed in the Baseball teams to win this week, reliever revealed, “At least. Multiple setbacks, doctor visits. I don’t know how many MRIs. I went through all kinds of stuff, same old story, right? it’s been the biggest thing this off-season. I’m not just going to keep doing the same thing. If I’m getting the same results, I need to do something different to change those results. Because I’m sick of being hurt. I’m sick of being injured. I definitely took that by the by the reins this off-season and made some significant, strategic changes.”

No athlete likes to nurse injury. None of them ever dream of dedicating their life sacrificing their precious summers, social lives, rest and sleep, to attain the sport’s peak only for their body to let them down. No pitcher in Major League Baseball wants to be the player at spring training talking about how they’ve had to revamp everything; how they’ve realized what stopped them from realizing their full potential in the past; how this season will be different.

And surely not one with ability and skill like American pitcher Merryweather. A lot of pitchers would be envious of his amazing records, which he achieved over four brilliant, tantalizing, agonizingly limited appearance last April before he suffered another injury setback.

Another setback. And every time he attempted to return to shape, it gave out again. Merryweather wasn’t seen playing from April up until September. And, honestly, he didn’t look like the player he used to be

 
 
 
 

Merryweather’s velocity was extremely low. His spin rates, also. He was walking plenty and giving up hard contact. His mechanics were whack. It’s crystal clear when he watches back the clips today. Physically, he was past the oblique problem. Mentally, he wasn’t over it just yet. No matter what he was saying to himself at the time.

He said, “I was biting, man. I was just chomping at the bit to get back out there. I just wanted to compete. No matter what, you want to compete.”

“But I dealt with so many setbacks last year, I think I was compensating and not realizing it. My brain was trying to protect itself — even though everything was physically fine. I just remember feeling not mechanically correct. And I couldn’t put a finger on it. It just wasn’t the same mechanics.”

It is not a strange feat. After re-aggravating his injury, with numerous setbacks when resuming his throwing earlier in the campaign, Merryweather was struggling with uncertainty.

He disclosed, “I was spinning off, not really finishing my pitches out front, It was just something I got in the habit of — babying it and trying to protect it. It’s a natural reaction after dealing with so many setbacks. And I just kept throwing through it.”

Merryweather is not giving up, he said, “That was so big for the mental side. It was such a source of confidence. I know I have the ability,It’s just about physically preparing myself to go out there regularly. It’s about putting all that together now. And, obviously, staying healthy.”

So that was the focus during this off-season, as he sought to make those “significant and strategic” changes he’s speaking about.

After taking time to eventually get his oblique problem squared away, Merryweather attempted a new training routine that had him replace high intensity weeks with lower ones, pushing his throwing and lifting beyond his limits for five days before gradually reducing his volume.

Like Merryweather says, when you keep getting the same result over and over, you must try something different.

He says, “The body’s feeling good. I had a great off-season, really good workouts. I’m coming into the season knowing that I’m prepared — that I’ve already tested my body in the off-season and really pushed myself, probably even more than I would in-season, I’m coming in with a fresh oblique. I’m feeling great mentally, I’m confident, I’m aggressive. I want this to be the year, man. It’d mean a lot for me. All the work I’ve put in to be able to be here. I’m just hoping to prove myself.”

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