Cecil's loss of velocity 'nothing to worry about'

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:14 PM ET

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Brett Cecil won’t know if he’s gaining ground in his search for the old velocity on his fastball until the Jays penultimate spring training game.

That would be Tuesday afternoon in Sarasota against the Baltimore Orioles.

It would be a great relief for Cecil if the missing miles on his heater — he’s currently freaking out over the fact he is throwing only 86-88 instead of in the 92-93 range — would be found in Sarasota so that he doesn’t carry his angst north and into his first start of the regular season which will be April 3 at the Rogers Centre against the Minnesota Twins.

Pitchers are borderline psychos at the best so if anything is amiss — and velocity for a young pitcher is at the top of the heap — it can get in their head and rattle around there which never does anybody much good.

So, between now and Tuesday and perhaps the third game of the regular season, it would seem to behoove pitching coach Bruce Walton to come up with some sort of fix to the problem at hand.

Walton, though, is not about to get caught up in the same dance of the demons that is raging inside Cecil’s noggin.

Patience, he said Friday morning, is the key and anyway, what’s the big deal? To Walton, getting batters out is what it is all about and he believes that Cecil can do just fine throwing in the high 80s as the low 90s.

He believes that the velocity will eventually return but until it does, he has taken the Alfred E. Newman approach — Why worry?

“I can give you all kind of theories, but I just don’t have any,” Walton said at one point, his words drawing plenty of laughs for what may turn out to be the quote of the year. Walton added that he could make up a bunch of B.S. but as to a quick fix solution to the problem at hand, he doesn’t have any.

And anyway, Cecil seems to forget that he went through the same valley a year ago.

“He’s gone trough this before, it’s not the first time,” Walton said. “We’ve seen it every year. It happens at different times. But it’s come back.

“Right now he’s at the stage where it’s not coming out at well as he wants it to come out. When does it come back? I think everybody’s guess is as good as mine.

“Overall, I think it will come back whenever it decides to come back.”

After a Jekyll-and-Hyde outing on Thursday against the Braves — Cecil threw five shutout innings and then gave up five runs (four earned) in the sixth, including a three-run bomb on a poorly thrown fastball to Dan Uggla. That bomb was the pitch that clearly knocked Cecil over the edge.

While Cecil seemed to dwell on the negative the other day, on Friday, Walton could see positives.

“I don’t know if it’s that big a concern to me or not,” Walton said. “We’re getting people out. We’re using all our pitches and things are going in a positive direction other than he feels he’s not getting a whole lot on his fastball.”

Cecil seemed to think that he could make more mistakes throwing 93. If he can throw only in the high 80s, he said, a mistake ends up in the seats. The down side is that it could affect the way Cecil approaches the hitters.

“I don’t think he has to change the pattern of how he pitches, I just think he needs to locate a little bit better,” Walton said. “Before, he could power a ball up in the zone and beat hitters when they’re sitting on that off-speed. Now, if it’s going to be 86 or 88 a couple of more times out — I think it’s going to get there sooner or later, don’t get me wrong — if it’s going to be like that we just have to pound down and put it in good spots.”

A bad pitch to Walton is a bad pitch, regardless of velocity.

“There’s a lot of things that we could try (to get Cecil going) to see if we could get it back before the season starts,” Walton said. “If we don’t, I don’t think it’s that alarming.

“The only pitch they hit out for a three-run homer (against the Braves) was a hanging fastball. I don’t think it mattered how hard it was. It was a pitch up in the zone to a very good fastball hitter (Uggla). So I’m not really alarmed right now.”

Well, that makes one of them.

Cecil? That’s clearly something else.


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