LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Blaine Boyer understands the results he has garnered through his five Grapefruit League appearances have enhanced the challenge he faces to earn a spot in Atlanta's bullpen as a non-roster player. But Boyer remains optimistic he has time to adjust to the increased velocity he
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Blaine Boyer understands the results he has garnered through his five Grapefruit League appearances have enhanced the challenge he faces to earn a spot in Atlanta's bullpen as a non-roster player. But Boyer remains optimistic he has time to adjust to the increased velocity he has unexpectedly generated this year.
While producing a 3.23 ERA over the 131 innings completed with the Twins and Brewers over the past two seasons, Boyer's fastball velocity sat between 91-92 mph and occasionally touched 94 mph. After spending this past winter focusing on a spider wall exercise that impacted his shoulders, he has found himself sitting between 92-94 mph and touching 96 mph.
"You just don't do that, especially in the spring where you're not really loose until, shoot, almost June," Boyer, 35, said. "When I'm on top of the baseball, it feels really, really, really good."
Five years removed from briefly retiring from baseball because of the lingering effects of previous shoulder ailments, Boyer certainly has reason to be encouraged about how healthy he's remained over the past few seasons. But the added arm strength he's found this year has led him to miss up in the zone more frequently and consequently allow nine earned runs and 11 hits through five Grapefruit League innings.
Using pitching coach Chuck Hernandez's suggestion, Boyer focused on throwing at the catcher's shoe tops as he completed a perfect inning in Sunday's win over the Yankees in Tampa. He had allowed at least three hits in three of his previous four outings.
After Boyer retired just one of the eight Yankees he faced during a home game last week, an American League scout was impressed with the stuff he saw and consequently supplied a report that included the words "do not focus on the results."
Though Boyer hasn't produced the results he has wanted, he remains in the mix to gain one of the final available bullpen spots. But his bid has also been weakened as Eric O'Flaherty has regained his sinker and significantly enhanced the odds of him gaining a roster spot.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.