Mechanics the Focus for Armas

Tony Armas, a long time Major League veteran, has seen his career endure troubled times in recent years primarily due to injury. However, those setbacks have not dissolved his desire to keep pitching and strengthening his game. Now he continues to improve his mechanics while leading the Zephyrs' staff.

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Tony Armas (Jr.), son of the former All-Star outfielder, Tony Armas, joined the Mets organization this February after a rough start with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Thirty-year-old Armas is a veteran to major league baseball as he played for the Expos and then the Nationals from 1999-2006 before joining the Pirates, the team his father debuted with, for the 2007 season.

Injuries have plagued Armas' long career and most significantly effected his pitching in 2003. That season, after five strong starts with a 2.61 ERA, he tore the labrum in his right shoulder which ended his season. Later in 2005, he was forced to again undergo surgery for his shoulder. He has been working on recovering his pitching speed and execution ever since the first surgery.

In his 2007 season, Armas had only four wins with five losses in 31 games for the Pirates with an ERA of 6.03. However, his time spent in Pittsburgh was not a loss as he was able to rehabilitate and re-train with his old coach, Bobby Cuellar.

"It was pretty nice down there [Pittsburgh], I got a chance to work a little on my mechanics with my old pitching coach Bobby Cuellar," Armas said. "After my surgery I went down on my arm angle, so last year I got to work a little with him. I got a chance to watch some of my old videos and work with him. It's paid off so I can't complain."

Armas' time with the Pirates helped improve his arm action and angle of his pitch delivery which he gives credit for his solid numbers with the Zephyrs this season. Armas has a 2.23 ERA in New Orleans with 68.2 innings pitched.

"I think I've been able to throw my pitches for strikes, that's the main thing, fastball, curve ball, slider, and split. I have been confident and working a lot with Dan Warthen. So he has helped me out with my confidence," Armas said.

He attributes his confidence in his pitching, as well as his improvement in his delivery after his surgery as the main contributors to his success at the Triple-A level. His impressive numbers this season, including a low ERA, is a complete change from his start last season in Pittsburgh.

While things began poorly for Armas with the Pirates in 2007, he managed to end the season stronger by pitching a victory over St. Louis on August 1, which was his first start since May. Up until the game against the Cardinals he hadn't won a game since September 24, 2006.

"My mechanics," Armas said of what has been this biggest difference between this season and last. "My first half last year was terrible, but my second half was pretty good. Things are coming together."

Things really have been coming together for the right handed pitcher as he has been the starter in all eleven games he appeared in for the Zephyrs. He has pitched a total of 68.2 innings, more than anyone else this season on the New Orleans roster. While he has been on the mound the most, he has given up only 17 runs and still leads the team in strikeouts with 57.

"I just want to pitch and help the Zephyrs in what ever way they need me," Armas said of his role on the team as a veteran from the big leagues. "Just getting to know the defense of the game and get my team a chance to win."

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