Some say spring training performance is irrelevant, and that getting in work is more important or meaningful than actual on-field results.
For Los Angeles Angels veteran Jered Weaver, though, his outing on Wednesday raised some eyebrows for all the wrong reasons. Weaver’s issues with declining velocity have been well documented, but on Wednesday afternoon against the Los Angeles Dodgers he barely hit 80 mph on the gun.
Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson took advantage of Weaver’s soft-tossing, launching a massive home run in Wednesday’s spring contest:
For Weaver, once the Halos’ ace, this has to be a reason for the Angels to be at least a bit concerned. For much of the past year or so, Weaver has continually emphasized that he just has to stick with the process and his usual routine and hope the velocity will return.
It hasn’t, though, and as the Los Angeles Times’ Pedro Moura wrote after Wednesday’s headlines, Weaver seems a bit bothered by his inability to return to form:
“I wake up every day hoping this is the day that it’s going to click,” he said, “and it just hasn’t happened yet.”
Moura notes that Weaver hasn’t averaged a fastball lower than 82 mph in any MLB start in his career, adding that his average fastball in 2015 was 84 mph.
Despite all the talk about Weaver’s diminished velocity, manager Mike Scioscia reiterated the same thing he’s said for much of this ongoing saga: Weaver can get outs if he has strong command.
“A lot’s being made of his velocity,” Scioscia said. “Not that you don’t need velocity or it doesn’t make some things easier when you have velocity, but I think he showed he can do this. It’s just going to be more command sensitive.”
A season ago, Weaver had one of the worst seasons of his professional career. He finished the campaign 7-12 with a 4.64 ERA in 26 starts and totaled just 90 strikeouts in 159 innings of work.
Even as he sees his fastball betray him a bit velocity-wise and perpetuate his struggle to reclaim the form he had earlier in his career, Weaver remains as determined as ever. As quoted by Moura:
“I know I’m not throwing the ball as good as I can be,” he said. “But it’s not gonna stop me from working and going out there and taking the ball every fifth day. My body feels better each and every day. It’s just, through this process of breaking everything up and getting everything settled down where it needs to be, you have good days and bad days.”
Echoing the sentiment put forth by his manager, Weaver also thinks he can be efficient if he’s able to locate, no matter how slow his pitches may be:
“If I can locate, I can get people out at 60 mph,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter to me.”
It may not matter to him, but it’s a narrative that won’t be going away anytime soon unless he figures out a way to add some velocity to his repertoire.