Right-hander Dillon Gee was riding a big wave of momentum when the 2009 season started, but he saw…
Coultas Feeling Good As New
Coultas allowed more than two earned runs in a start in just one of his 11 outings, en route to a 4-3 record and 2.78 ERA in 64 2/3 innings. He pitched deeper into games and showed more diversity in his repertoire, but after a June 9th outing in which he allowed three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, he knew something was different.
"I noticed in the last start before I said something that my command just wasn't where it had been," he said. "I just didn't feel the same at all. It felt like I was throwing a little different and I just didn't see the logic in trying to fight through it and possibly making something worse."
The problems were not related to velocity (he still hit 91-93 MPH consistently) or the his command (3 BB over his last 19 2/3 IP), but rather it was getting his shoulder back into game shape between starts.
"It had to do with recovery. With the adrenaline of game day I could crank it up and get through it, but it was the next day, the bullpen day, or two days afterwards where it was killing me," Coultas explained.
He was originally optimistic about the condition of his shoulder, but he nonetheless was sent to the Mets physician to have his shoulder inspected. The original news was not good as the first diagnosis indicated that Coultas had a large tear in his labrum that could require surgery, but he was later handed better results.
"I was very optimistic when I went in, mainly, because I was having some success on the mound," he said. "So my thought process was that it can't be that bad because it's not like my velocity significantly dropped off, or I can't throw strikes. It was mainly discomfort and not necessarily results oriented."
Seeing as labrum tears, of varying degrees, are common in every pitcher, Coultas had three options: surgery, rehab or do nothing. After discussing different plans, he opted to have the surgery. In the end, the made the right choice and came out of the surgery with the best news yet as a full repair was not necessary.
"They went in and didn't fix anything but just cleaned it out which is pretty much the same time frame as doing nothing. So in the end it made a lot of sense to take that route," he said.
"When it came down to it, when they got into my shoulder, it turned out to be pretty normal wear and tear. It's just symptomatic thing. Someone could have the same tear but it depends on different strengths in different parts of the shoulder and the body, it could bother one guy and not another," he added.
Having no significant injury was even more important for a pitcher like Coultas. Unlike Dillon Gee, who similarly had better news than expected, Coultas has more years under his belt after a transition to the mound. Missing a bulk of the 2010 would have been very damaging to the momentum he seized this year, but he now feels back to normal without hesitations about his shoulder's health heading into next season.
"The shoulder feels just about as good as new. It's kind of a unique situation because usually when the season is over, you take some time to let your body heal," he explained.
"But in this case, I'm going into the off-season in better shape than I've ever been after a season. I feel like I'm almost ahead of the game as far as getting ready for next season."
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