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With velo down, Minor aiming to 'pitch better'

@Sullivan_Ranger
August 5, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have lost both Corey Kluber and José Leclerc to torn muscles in the back of their right shoulders, but they are hardly the only team to experience significant pitching injuries. Rangers starter Mike Minor is well aware of what is going on with pitching in baseball.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have lost both Corey Kluber and José Leclerc to torn muscles in the back of their right shoulders, but they are hardly the only team to experience significant pitching injuries.

Rangers starter Mike Minor is well aware of what is going on with pitching in baseball. The left-hander is not necessarily concerned about it, but he said it should have been expected going into the season.

“A lot of guys said it, with the shutdown and not knowing if we were going to come back and limited facilities and throwing partners,” Minor said. “I think it was part of the game right now, where guys' velocities are lower, they are getting nicks here and there, getting injured. I think that’s kind of expected.

“I hate to see it, but you are seeing a lot of guys going down. I just think it is one of those years where we are trying to piece it together, doing the best we can.”

Minor, who pitches on Thursday afternoon against the A's, is still trying to feel his way through the start of the season. His velocity is down, and he is 0-2 with a 5.91 ERA after two starts.

“I think I have a lot to work on,” Minor said. “I’m trying to figure it out every day, playing catch and throwing. I do think I am getting better. The stuff is getting better. Last game, I was all over the place again. I am putting a little pressure on myself because we need to win. In the shortened season, every game counts.”

Minor is physically healthy. He just said he feels a little “tight” and not as loose as he normally feels when he pitches.

“I think it’s a mobility thing, a stretching-out thing,” Minor said. “I’m hoping, over time, a couple of starts, it will start going back up. Sometimes, the balls I throw by guys are being fouled off or are jam-shot singles or hard hits. I think my stuff doesn’t do as well with the lower velocity. I still have the ability to get guys out. I just have to pitch better.”

Minor has a four-pitch mix, and the velocity has dropped on all four of those offerings through his first two starts of the season. His fastball is most noticeable, as it has dropped from an average velocity of 92.5 mph to 90.2, according to Statcast. His slider has dropped from 86.4 mph to 85.4, his changeup from 86.2 to 84.4 and his curveball from 80.7 to 78.6.

“Maybe that comes back after a couple more starts,” manager Chris Woodward said . “It would be concerning if it was the whole year. I think it’s really hard to look at this year in consistent terms. It’s a different year. He feels physically fine. There is nothing bothering him to make us concerned about it. We just hope it ticks up a little bit as we go.”

The Rangers' training staff sent the players more information and videos this week with more tips and instructions on how to warm up and stretch out. But the COVID-19 protocols also make it more difficult for pitchers to follow their normal routines.

“I don't know if we're getting less time with the trainers, but I think it's harder for guys to get warmed up, to stretch,” Minor said. “And then also, we're limited to our hotel rooms for pretty much the whole day. The activity level is very low. So, I think maybe that's part of it. I know that when I'm sitting in the hotel room for a while and then you stand up, it's kind of like working a desk job or something, you're kind of tight and stuff.

“So, I think guys are trying to stretch a little bit more, or be more cognizant of it. But who knows? I don't know if it's a factor or not, but I do know the routines and everything are thrown off, for sure.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.