On Saturday morning Joel Kuhnel was recalled to join the Cincinnati Reds in Milwaukee to help fill out the bullpen in the Brewers series. Before he pitched on Sunday in the Reds loss, he talked a bit about returning to the Reds, and what it was like to not pitch in the minors this season and instead throw at Prasco Park in a different kind of environment.
On not having a true Triple-A season to pitch in right now
“I mean it’s difficult, but I mean it’s the same thing as anywhere else. You still have to go out there and get your work in and try to develop your stuff – we’re still throwing against live hitters, our own hitters, it’s not against another Triple-A team but it’s the best we have right now in this weird time and situation, so you just have to make the best of it. Just keep working hard.”
On what kind of stuff is happening at Prasco Park and what the organization is doing there to try and keep guys ready for if and when they are needed.
“Basically it would be like a normal day at the field in a sense,” said Kuhnel. “They try to make it as normal as possible. We get there around 1 o’clock when everything opens up. At 2 or 2:30 we have a meeting, stretch is at 3, 3:15. Then PFP’s, run-throughs – we just do a lot of practice situations in a sense. Hitters still take BP and everything. Then we get ready for games. We don’t have 9-inning games, we usually have anywhere from 2-6 inning games. It just depends on who is pitching that day. The other day we have Tony (Santillan) and Nick Lodolo going at it. One had five innings and the other had five innings, and basically they just went back and forth. And we just watched that and cheered them on and supported them.”
“The first week it wasn’t the best, I should say. We didn’t have any noise or anything. So it was just a really hard thing to create that kind of energy. Now they have the crowd noise. Matt Bowman actually got on the PA system – Prasco has a really nice set-up with all of the things they have. He got on the PA system, so we have like walkout songs now. He introduces the batter’s coming up, he’s playing all the music, he’s playing boos, he’s cheering. It gets pretty exciting – so now it’s actually really like we’re trying to bring that fun energy back into Prasco.”
“We can’t really have nine vs nine guys (because there aren’t enough players there), so we have coaches and everything playing. They’re playing the field, playing first base. We have our strength coaches Trey and Justin playing the outfield. We’re trying to make this as much as we can, possible.”
On facing the same guys over and over
“You’re still getting your work in and everything. Even though it’s the same hitters over and over again. Everyone says it gets redundant – it does get redundant, but at the same time you’re still trying to make your pitch. You’re still trying to work on the stuff that you need to work on. It’s good because, there are times when you get up here, especially in league play – You’re going to be facing guys 5-6-7 times in a span of possibly two weeks.”
On facing your teammates rather than opponents
“The adrenaline factor is always going to be a key – not saying facing your own hitters isn’t a real opponent – but a fastball up and in, showing a fastball up and in for show. If I’m throwing up there against Tyler Stephenson or Jose Garcia and I miss just a little bit, there’s a chance they’re out for at least 2+ weeks without doing anything. But compared to up here, it opens up that whole entire inside. For me it works amazing – I’ll run it in there, I don’t care. But when you start doing that with your own hitters and everything, you have to really be conscious of where’s this going to go.”
Dealing with his shoulder impingement and figuring out the solution
“I ended up dealing with some shoulder impingement stuff. Ended up finding out the cause of that. I went to a new gym this offseason when I got married and moved to Texas, and basically I went through with my old strength coach and I went through and said hey, this is it – I’m trying to figure out is it mechanical, is it strength, is it something I’m doing, is it flexibility – just tried to narrow everything down. The one thing we figured out, at least for me, was pull ups. The gym I went to was super big on pull ups, compared to the old gym I went to which was dumb bell, rows, mid-row, high-row. We found out that, I’m a very big guy, so trying to do a pull up – if I can’t get that full range of motion, I don’t get that full work of the scap. So that kind of narrowed it down. We hit that hard. No more pull ups for me. So I can’t do pull ups with Michael (Lorenzen) anymore. ”
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