HOUSTON – Out at the Texas Baseball Ranch in Montgomery, Ron Wolforth has worked with some of the top pitchers at every level, including Astros ace Justin Verlander. Wolforth’s “big red barn” is designed to give pitchers a place to tinker with their pitches, gain velocity and avoid injury.
Wolforth spoke with KPRC 2 this week on what’s behind the Astros’ pitching injuries, as Houston deals with EIGHT different pitchers currently on the injured list.
“(Due to COVID) they tried to ramp it up really steep within three weeks, and usually Spring Training lasts about six weeks,” said Wolforth. “Soft tissue is just not ready for that.”
Wolforth believes there is a mix of reasons for injuries, but the shortened ramp up period is the top culprit.
“The number one reason these guys are getting hurt is that the ramp up was completely messed up,” said Wolforth. “We were really afraid of that (going into the season). I had my fingers crossed and hoped I would be wrong, but unfortunately, it just isn’t the case.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker is known for some high profile pitcher injuries. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood during Baker’s Cubs tenure struggled after a 2003 season where both were pushed to many 100+ and 120+ pitch starts. Prior struggled with various injuries from 2004-2006 and never pitched in a major league game after his age 25 season.
However, Wolforth said this current spell of Astros’ injuries isn’t Baker’s fault.
“We’re living in a different world. These are injuries are due to the shortened schedule because of COVID, I don’t think it’s fair to put blame on that with (Baker) right now,” Wolforth said.