It was a bit of a surprise not to see Steve Cishek on the Mariners’ last road trip as team officials indicated there was a good chance we would at some point. Cishek, coming off hip labrum surgery, began his rehab assignment on April 17, and the thought was he could get a few outings under his belt, make back-to-back appearances and perhaps be good to go.
That did not happen.
The good news is that, aside from the expected stiffness he feels in his hip before getting worked on early in the day, he is healthy. The trouble that is keeping him from rejoining the team is with his pitching mechanics.
“I got into a habit of overthrowing because I didn’t have the velocity I wanted,” he explained Thursday afternoon.
Cishek believes a combination of being off with his mechanics and the lack of adrenaline he gets from coming into big league games has his velocity down a couple of ticks. Watching video of his delivery when he was healthy and working with Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has helped sort out the mechanics.
“It’s just a matter for me of staying behind the baseball, just letting it happen,” he said, noting that Stottlemyre also got his arm angle to where it needed to be.
Cishek has been trying to make up for not only the work he would have got in spring training, but a full offseason of work as well, all while getting comfortable with his legs again after the hip surgery. The injury has put his patience through a workout of a different kind.
“I had a deadline in my mind of May 1,” he said. “That was my personal goal, that’s what we had on paper. It was a little frustrating, but at the same time I embraced the challenge and am looking forward to getting back and I am doing everything I can to get back as quick as I can.”
The Mariners could use his arm and experience in a mostly young bullpen that has had far more downs than ups so far this season. Cishek is scheduled to throw another bullpen at Safeco Field on Friday and then most likely will be sent out to get another inning in a minor league game.
The Mariners are looking for more than just good numbers from his rehab outings. While he has thrown strikes, they haven’t always been good strikes and they haven’t always been where the catcher has set up. While the command has not come as quickly as he had hoped, Cishek believes the bigger battle has been won.
“It’s just a matter of being smart,” he said. “The good thing is everything I have done, everything that I have introduced that is new, I get a little sore or tight the next day, then I repeat it a couple of days later, it’s fine. It’s making adjustments and getting stronger and as long as it’s going this way I am happy. … But I can’t wait to get back.”