The Long Road Back

"For the first time in awhile I feel great."

Posted Jun 14, 2006


In 2003 left-handed pitcher Danny Borrell was considered to be one of the most promising prospects in the organization. He was also rated the Yankees' sixth best prospect and was seemingly days away from the big leagues. Ten starts into his 2003 campaign Borrell was an impressive 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA. But during that 10th start he tore a ligament in his left shoulder and everything changed.

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It was heartbreaking.  I knew I had a good shot at getting my chance," said Danny Borrell.  "I mean if you ask any guy in this locker room what their biggest fear is, they'll all say getting hurt and unfortunately it happened to me at the worst possible time."  

Borrell spent most of the last two and half years on the shelf making a few scattered starts while not at full health.  But in 2006 Borrell has made 10 starts going 2-3 with a solid 3.92 ERA while remaining completely healthy.  

"For the first time in awhile I feel great.  I don't want to jinx myself but I think I'm finally 100 percent healthy," said Borrell.  "Last year it seemed like every other start I would have pain or not feel healthy.  But this year I've felt good consistently.  

Missing parts of 3 seasons due to injuries, Borrell has struggled to regain his arm strength during the early part of the season but as of late the arm strength has slowly started to resurface.

"He's been a mixture of good and mediocre.  It's tough because early in the season he didn't have the arm strength or velocity we wanted out of him.  Finally after 2 and half years his arm strength is back and as of late he's been much better for us," said Thunder Pitching Coach Dave Eiland.  

Borrell's pitch repertoire consists of a big league changeup that he uses to keep hitters off balance, a high 80's fastball, and a slow sweeping curve.  But due to the lack of velocity and consistency from his curve Borrell has tried to develop a slider to compliment his other pitches.  

"I've always been a fastball, changeup guy.  My curveball is just way too slow to get major league hitters out so I'm trying hard to develop a slider to help compliment my other pitches," said Borrell.  

"He's always had the major league changeup.  But lately we've been working on a slider to help compliment his slow curve," said Eiland.  

The further progression of breaking pitches is looked at as the key to Borrell's future success and progression through the Yankee system.  

"Getting more consistent and confident in his slider is the key. When he becomes comfortable enough to throw the slider at any time, he really will excel as a pitcher," said Eiland.

"Danny's velocity has finally comeback.  The big thing is he needs to harness his breaking stuff," said Thunder Manager Bill Masse.  "A lefty without a quality breaking ball better throw 95 MPH and Danny can't do that so he has to harness his breaking stuff."  

Along with the concerns with his breaking stuff Borrell's age (28 years old) is also looked at as a determent to his future career in professional baseball.  But despite his enhanced age and injury concerns Borrell feels he is right on schedule all things considered.  

"I missed two and a half years.  So I look at it as if I'm 24 years old not 28," said Borrell.  "This is only my second year at the AA level so with all my injuries I think I'm still on schedule to be where I want to go."  

"He's left-handed.  Nowadays lefties pitch into there 40's," said Eiland.  "With his stuff and the fact he's a lefty I wouldn't worry about the age issue at all.  

Borrell who is coming off his most impressive outing of the season throwing 7 innings of 5-hit ball against Eastern League rival Reading (AA affiliate of Philadelphia Phillies) believes if he can get more innings he can recapture his 2003 form.

"I need to get more innings and continue to work on my slider.  If I can do that then hopefully I'll have another shot up in Columbus," concluded Borrell.  

Have the injuries taken their toll on Danny Borrell?  Or have all the hard times only been a pre cursor to a storybook ending?  Time will only tell. _____________________________________________________

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