Freeland eager to return, continue progress

September 2nd, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Rockies lefty ’s slower-than-expected return from a left groin strain gained momentum Monday, when he was scheduled to throw off the slope of the mound at Dodger Stadium.

Freeland (3-11, 6.98 ERA) has not pitched since leaving an 8-7 loss to the D-backs with the injury on Aug. 20. After a fourth-place finish in National League Cy Young voting last year, Freeland struggled early this season, even spending time at Triple-A Albuquerque. But he had given up three or fewer runs in four of his last six starts. He wants to continue the progress.

“Hopefully, it’s soon,” said Freeland, who came back from a similar injury in 2017 immediately after a 10-day injured list stint. “There have been no setbacks, but it’s been much slower coming back. I wouldn’t say it feels tender, but every now and then I would feel soreness or feel stretching. For some reason it’s taking longer, but I absolutely want to get back out there.

“I’m just trying to get back to where I’m not going to be worried about it creeping up and getting me again.”

If it all works out, Freeland gets game action to continue the corrections to a delivery that slipped into disrepair this season, then he has a normal offseason.

Last offseason, several pitchers -- notably right-hander Jon Gray, who bounced back this season before being felled by a left foot stress fracture -- went to the Driveline facility in suburban Seattle. Some looked for analysis of their pitches and developed different philosophies for “pitch-shaping” (how the pitch bends) or “tunneling” (making sure different pitches were released with the same trajectory before their divergent breaks).

Freeland, 26, a Denver native, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the offseason and will do much of his throwing at the Rockies’ complex there, rather than give his offseason program over to a specialized facility.

“I really don’t believe in that too much,” Freeland said. “My thoughts are -- for me, not speaking for others – unless I’m injured and need to get back quickly and doing it in a proper form, that’s the only way I dig into the whole Driveline or P3 [a similar setup in St. Louis] kind of thing.

“I know the way I throw. I know my velocity. I know what my velocity is going to be. I know my mechanics. There is no reason for me to go out and reshape that. It is a lot of work, and those are the kind of things you can’t be half in, half out.”

For example, after the 2017 season, right-handed teammate Jeff Hoffman adopted some of Driveline’s exercises, but not a full program, and ended up with a shoulder injury in Spring Training.

Last winter, Hoffman adopted the full program and has been healthy.

“I know his numbers don’t reflect that, but it’s something he dedicated himself to and bought into, and hopefully it does pay off for him at the end of this year and next year,” Freeland said. “You can definitely learn from other guys who have done it, and there could be some small things I can pick up. But with the way I pitch and my mentality on workouts with my arm and my mechanics, it doesn’t fit.”

Marquez’s return iffy

Righty German Marquez (12-5, 4.76), who last pitched on Aug. 22 before going to the injured list with right arm inflammation, said he would like to make 2-3 starts before the regular season ends. However, he has not been cleared to do any throwing, and manager Bud Black handicapped Marquez’s return as an “outside chance.”

Worth noting

• Outfielder Raimel Tapia (left hand contusion) could return Tuesday or Wednesday.

• Outfielder David Dahl, out since leaving an Aug. 2 game with a high right ankle sprain, didn't make the road trip but is taking swings in the batting cage at Coors Field, plus playing catch and doing light jogging, Black said.