Nardi Contreras, the Yankees Minor League Pitching Coordinator, sits down with PinstripesPlus.com…
Cox Cranking It Up
He posted a 1.35 ERA in the Eastern League and kept his momentum going in Triple-A by going 2-1 with a tiny 0.63 ERA in his first twelve appearances with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
It was at that point, however, where the lack of time off between his injury rehab and the start of the season caught up with him, and things started going downhill pretty quickly from there.
"The elbow was fine and that was the comforting thing," said Cox. "When I was moving up my breaking ball was there, my sinker was working well, my velocity was good, and my location was good.
"After I was in Triple-A for a while I just kind of hit a wall. I thought I might get better and I kept getting more tired and more gassed."
Admitting his stuff and command quickly eroded with each subsequent outing, the physical problems with his mechanics started to develop into some shoulder tendonitis and that's when everybody started taking a closer look.
"I had a little bit of tightness in the back of my shoulder and that kind of got a little [worse] to the point where at the end of the year that's when we got my shoulder looked at," he revealed. "Everything was clean and everything was good with my shoulder.
"I just had a pretty good case of tendonitis in the back [of the shoulder]. I didn't have a whole lot of time off between rehab and the season, and they just said it was probably the combination of long-tossing and pitching for tenth months straight."
He posted a 7.48 ERA in his last sixteen appearances in Triple-A and walked more batters than he struck out, clear signs that something was amiss for a pitcher who had a career 1.98 ERA entering the season.
"In my last however many innings there it wasn't getting any better," he admitted. "It wasn't like I had my stuff and I was getting hitting around a bit. I didn't have anything and I was just up there battling for the sake of battling.
"I was just grinding it out and trying to make it to that next outing. I would be pitching and be like ‘thank God I got through that one, let's try and get through the next one'. It just got to the point where it wasn't getting any better and I wasn't accomplishing anything."
With his shoulder continuing to tighten up, he says his arm got to the point where he couldn't even play catch after sitting for a half of an inning and that's when everybody decided to shut him down in mid-August.
"On the positive side I can look at it and say my stuff was there whenever I was healthy and feeling good, and my numbers were good.
"And then I have this year behind me because they say with the surgery you're not supposed to be really completely healthy until 18-21 months [after surgery] and I'm just getting to that point right now."
Doctors and the Yankees prescribed a minimum of two months off for him, which included not throwing a baseball or lifting a weight.
Two months have now come and gone, and while he's still not throwing a baseball yet, he says he is starting to get after it a lot more in his workouts.
"I feel great," he said. "I just started working out about two weeks ago, just easing back into it and just started cranking it up this week.
"I'm working out about four times a week now and my body feels fine. It's adjusting great and we'll just see how it goes from here."
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