Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Since Washington reliever Brandon Kintzler already has 299 pitching appearances on his record and Seattle starter James Paxton has made 75 starts these onetime American Association hurlers are entitled to voice their opinions.
And, they are doing just that, Kintzler to help himself and teammates and Paxton to express what he has learned in trying to improve his health.
Before examining these stories, we will flip the pages back to their American Association days as a refresher for those who need it. Kintzler, now 33, needed nearly three years in current AA cities (Winnipeg in its Northern League days in 2007-08 and St. Paul most of the next season) after not climbing above Class A in the San Diego farm system or he likely would have gotten lost in pitching oblivion. Paxton, only 29 today, came out of the University of Kentucky and started four games for Grand Prairie in 2010 before getting a contract settled with Seattle and moving into the Mariners’ farm system.
The Washington Post pointed out some of Kintzler’s value recently–value that stretches beyond the pitching rubber.
The Nationals’ clubhouse has personalities much more well known than the righthander, “but subtly…(he) has emerged as a valued piece of the chemistry puzzle, a veteran as eager to share his thoughts as his teammates are to hear them.” This includes highly-prized starters Max Scherzer (another American Association alum) and Stephen Strasburg.
Scherzer, among several Nationals who were in touch with Kintzler before the latter decided to return to Washington when he was a free agent over the winter, and the reliever have become daily throwing buddies prior to games. They get on each other, playfully, but the Cy Young winner gets serious when he adds: “He (Kintzler) makes some good points. There’s some things I think he’s opened my eyes to that I think I can add into my program. He’s on to something.”
Strasburg was more specific to the newspaper after Kintzler learned in depth through patella tendinitis videos how to keep himself healthy rather than undergoing surgery one more time. “It’s great to be able to acquire some knowledge from him like that,” Strasburg said, “about how your body works–if I’m feeling tight there, this is probably why, and how I can treat it.”
As for Paxton, who had a breakout 12-5, 2.98 season last year, he considered refining his offseason training program to improve his durability. “The latest aspect of that is a reduction of lactose in his diet,” The Seattle Times reported.
“What the tests showed for me was that cow’s milk wasn’t great for my system,” he told the newspaper. “It’s all about limiting the amount of inflammation your body experiences after starts and in between them. If I can just find more of those little things that can add up to me staying healthy, that’s the goal.” As for transferring to almond milk, “it’s not too bad, actually,” the pitcher concluded.
It will be interesting to see if that change and adding bikram yoga to improve his flexibility will keep the talented lefty on the field more this season.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com or WirzandAssociates.com.