SCOTTSALE, Ariz. -- Padres right-hander Reggie Lawson didn’t join the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League until October 4, so he had made just one outing prior to Friday afternoon’s game at Salt River. He was supposed to pitch out of the bullpen, but was notified somewhat last minute he’d be replacing his organization-mate Adrian Morejon, who was scratched with lower back soreness.
“Today, I was throwing regardless,” Lawson said. “I was just going to piggyback Morejon throughout the Fall League, so I knew I was going to pitch today. They told me before we came over here that I was going to start. No more routine for me today.”
Just pitching at all hasn’t been routine for Lawson in 2019. Now 22, Lawson was making the jump to Double-A, but it was cut short after just six starts. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and then began the long, arduous rehab process, which eventually led to him coming to the AFL to get competitive innings for the first time since early May.
“I was just building up in instructs and they were like, ‘You’re going to come for the Fall League like three weeks in,’” Lawson said. “I was like, ‘I’m with it.’
“It’s very exciting. I only pitched 27 innings this year, so this was kind of a down year for me. So coming here to compete against the best of the best, I take every challenge of it and I love it. I’m just glad I’m back to competing and being my old self.”
His old self had three pitches working Friday. His fastball was consistently 93-96 mph throughout his four innings and he showed a solid upper-70s curveball that missed bats and an 86-87 mph changeup that generated weak contact. All of this worked despite him not having the kind of command he hoped to bring to the mound.
“I didn’t get it over with the first-pitch strikes that I really wanted to, but everything else was pretty good,” said Lawson, who did throw just six of 14 first pitches for strikes. “Pitching from behind, in hitter’s counts, I was able to throw my curveball and changeup, so that was really good. That was a plus for me.”
Feeling healthy and getting innings is the biggest plus for Lawson, the ultra-projectable and athletic pitcher whom the Padres went way over pick value in the 2016 Draft to sign. Back to feeling how he did before the injury, he’s looking ahead as he continues to put in the time to make sure he can stay on the mound in 2020 and beyond.
“I feel strong. The elbow feels really good. I’m just continuing to do what I have to do with my rehab stuff and stay healthy, that’s the key.
“That’s the whole process, when I started throwing. I was like, ‘Hey, if it happens, it happens. If not, just keep going out there, just throw the ball. Pretty much don’t think about it.' I worked my tail off to get back where I’m at.”