Cecil getting back up to speed
TORONTO -- Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil appears to have regained some of the velocity he had been missing for the past two seasons.
Cecil entered Tuesday night's game against the Indians and tossed a clean ninth inning. He hit 94 mph on the radar gun four times while also reaching 93 mph on an additional three pitches.
The 26-year-old threw a total of 11 pitches in his one inning of work and had at least a couple of more miles per hour on his sinker and fastball than he had in Spring Training.
"It kind of felt the same way in Spring Training," Cecil said on Wednesday. "It was just a little extra adrenaline, regular season game and I was hoping to get that extra bump.
"It was nice, felt really good. I don't know how the curveball was so good, I couldn't throw it for a strike in the bullpen to save my life, but in a sense that's how I like it to go. Throw it in the bullpen and usually I need a hitter up there to get my breaking stuff working and that's what happened in the game."
Cecil broke into the big leagues in 2009 and topped out at 95 mph with his fastball while averaging 91 mph in 17 starts. The velocity was comparable the following season, but by 2011 there was a noticeable dip.
The native of Maryland began topping out at 93 mph while averaging just 89 mph, according to Fangraphs. That took away some of his effectiveness and at times he would overthrow in an effort to gain extra velocity, which led to a lot of pitches being left up in the zone.
That was one reason Cecil went through the Velocity Training Program this offseason, which involves the use of weighted balls to increase strength in the shoulder. It's a program run by Jamie Evans and was used by right-hander Steve Delabar in his comeback from a fractured right elbow.
It's still early, but the results are an encouraging sign that the program has made a difference. Cecil says his shoulder feels stronger than it has in years and believes there is still room for some more improvement.
"It's helped a lot," Cecil said. "If I hadn't of done it, probably coming out of the 'pen I'd still be low 90s. But it's definitely nice to have that 94 and hopefully it goes up a few more miles an hour as we get into mid-season form a little bit down the road.
"It helps keeping the shoulder healthy as well and I have to tell you I've never felt this good for such a long stretch. I know I said it in Spring Training, but I've felt so good since Spring Training started, throwing in games, than I ever had. It's a really good feeling and I just hope it continues."