Cincinnati Reds reliever Amir Garrett, and his alter ego when he takes the mound, AG, is one step closer to pitching in spring training games. The lefty has yet to appear in a game after having soreness in his forearm. His last bullpen session has him feeling like things are getting better.
“It went really well,” said Garrett. “I feel almost normal. I feel really good right now, especially after today. I threw a bullpen three days ago and it wasn’t even close to this one – the intensity, the volume – I feel really good.”
The back end of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen is eventually going to include both Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims. But as of March 12th, neither pitcher has thrown a single pitch in a game. Garrett thinks that he can pitch in a game next week.
“Yeah, if it was up to me I think I’d anticipate being in a game sometime late next week, maybe,” Garrett said. “I always tell the coaches ‘We talkin’ about practice?! Practice?!’ April 1st, I’ll be ready. Just call me April 1st, I’ll be there. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get it done.”
Aside from a good Allen Iverson throwback, Garrett speculated on what led to the issue and how he plans for it to not come back up again in the future.
“I was just a little sore,” Garrett said. “It wasn’t anything mind blowing or anything alarming, it was just sore. I did throw more bullpens in the offseason than I did any other year just because of the shortened season, just trying to maintain and keep my arm, what I thought would be getting in shape more because we had the 60 games last year. I was throwing more than what I normally do and I feel like my arm was telling me ‘hey, relax a little bit’.”
There’s a lot of questions all around Major League Baseball about how last season is going to change how pitchers are used in 2021, and how their arms may react. The lack of innings last year, the weird start, then stop for a few months, then start up for a few months, then stopping for the offseason just isn’t something that many guys experience often. The whole league dealt with that last year. Some guys didn’t even pitch in any sort of games last season, and others may not even have participated at their organization’s alternate site. For Garrett, his preparation for the unknown may have gotten the better of him just a little bit.
“We had a plan coming in – if you threw this many bullpens, try to throw 4 or 5 more than that,” said Garrett. “We only played in 60 games. I pitched 18 innings last year. I think that’s a big shock on your arm if you go from 18 innings and then you have those couple months off and then you get right back into it. So I tried to start a little bit earlier and keep it going as much as I could and try to ramp it up at high intensity. But everybody has their own thing that works for them and obviously that didn’t work for me so I’m going to stay on my own plan that I’m normally on.”
Cincinnati is going to be relying on Amir Garrett an awful lot in the upcoming season if he’s healthy. He’s been claiming the role of closer in a fun back-and-forth with Lucas Sims all offseason since the Reds traded Raisel Iglesias. Over the last two seasons the lefty has a 3.03 ERA in 74.1 innings with 104 strikeouts and 42 walks. You’d like to see the walks come down a little bit, but he makes up for it with a very high strikeout rate. Whether Garrett winds up as the closer, one of the closers, or just a “fireman” who comes into the game in big time situations – he’s going to be one of the keys to locking down the game when Cincinnati has a lead. For the Reds sake, hopefully next week can have the lefty get on the mound in games and leave enough time for him to be ready to go on April 1st.