Ryan Zink, drafted in the 17th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, had a great season for the Charleston…
Fatigue No Longer An Issue for Cox
J. Brent Cox opened the 2008 season strong, posting a 2.21 ERA in his first twelve innings split between Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Continuing his success, Cox responded to a Triple-A promotion by going 2-1 with a 0.63 ERA in his first twelve appearances with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
The reliever underwent an elbow surgery prior to the 2007 season and had only rehabbed for several months before making his Triple-A debut. The first 20 innings of the season proved that he could pitch at an advanced level, but as the season continued, Cox's arm began to tire. He closed out his 2008 campaign by posting a 7.48 ERA in his final 16 appearances.
"Last year, the Yankees sent me home with two weeks left in the season with arm fatigue in my shoulder, so the first thing I did was to take those two weeks off and not touch a baseball. I needed to let my arm bounce back without doing anything to it," said Cox.
"After that, I worked out at a place in Tomball about four times a week with a handful of major leaguers; guys like Chad Qualls and Kip Wells. I did a lot of different exercises. Some shorter stuff and conditioning, and around December I started throwing the ball."
"Things have felt good ever since, hopefully it'll stay that way."
Now, with a full offseason to rest his surgically repaired elbow, the right-hander feels stronger than ever, and could be primed for a strong 2009.
"I feel pretty good. As far as arm-wise, I'm feeling great. With that comes more of the mental game. Last year, I was kind of dragging behind a little bit but this year I feel great and I'm excited about that," he added.
While the numbers haven't been stellar in the early going, the right-hander is much more comfortable with making back-to-back appearances.
"Say I pitch tonight and the pitching coach wants me to pitch again tomorrow, I feel healthy and completely able to compete, whereas last year if I got that back-to-back call it was more of a downer for me and it made it difficult to compete and stay positive."
Getting in more games will help Cox refine the pitches that he was unable to throw often last year. According to the pitcher, he struggled with his slider in 2008 because of his sore shoulder. It was difficult to throw the pitch without experiencing pain, which forced him to change his arm slot. Things are different now, however.
"I've felt really good with my slider in my past couple of outings. Also, I feel more comfortable being in the game and being able to throw a certain pitch here and there. Last year, it was kind of ‘lets see what happens, hopefully I'll get through this'."
The Yankees have not placed an innings limit on Cox this season, but the right-hander would not be surprised if he eventually gets a cap.
"They haven't told me anything, but I'm just pretty much waiting for the phone to ring and see if my name gets called."
Going forward, Cox will continue to work on his pitches and refine his approach. It takes time for pitchers to fully recuperate after elbow surgery, but with the 2008 season under his belt, the reliever could be ready for the next step.
"I'm still trying to compete and attack the zone. I'm a sinkerball guy, and most people in the league know that.
"We're in a league where everybody knows what you throw, but I'm going to stay aggressive and in the zone and I'll try to get groundouts. If I do that and stay healthy, I'll get my chance at the big leagues."
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