Entering this past season, I had appeared in the most games of any pitcher at this level over the last 10 years, and I took a great deal of pride in that mark. To me, it showed durability and that I was available to pitch regularly. The manager can rely on me every day.
It's no surprise that three of the top five guys on that list are left-handed. There are so many situational opportunities where you might only face one hitter rather than pitch an inning or two. Other relievers might go a few innings, and they know they will get an unofficial day off the next day.
Left-handers who are used in situations need to be ready and available whenever they're called upon. Guys like me, Mike Stanton and Buddy Groom are usually among the appearance leaders.
But all of the appearance leaders aren't left-handers. Two right-handers that come to mind are Mike Timlin and Paul Quantrill. Having played with Mike, I know his durability and his pain tolerance. He's out there all of the time, and he does a great job of taking care of himself. I tried to watch his routine and see how he gets ready for a game. Paul just takes the ball whenever he's called upon.
While a guy like myself might only be called upon to face one batter, there's a lot of wear and tear over the course of the season from warming up and getting ready to pitch. You have to really learn early in your career how to warm up efficiently and learn about your own body, know exactly what it takes to get ready every night.
For example, my back might not be feeling good on a particular night, so I conserve myself a little in the bullpen with the knowledge that I still have eight warmup tosses on the field. I try to teach the younger kids whom I play with about being smart in preparation. You don't want to leave it all out in the bullpen.
I get less wear and tear on my elbow and shoulder with my submarine delivery. When you throw the ball over the top, you're doing a lot of unorthodox things. The body was not made to make that motion at a high rate of speed, with your shoulder and elbow in that particular position. For me or a guy like Chad Bradford, the back is more of a concern because of the torque we put on it.
Earlier in my career, I was a starter. That was always my goal. Even when I first went to the bullpen, my hope was to work myself into the rotation somehow. But I just never really learned how to get through a lineup two or three times.
Now, I wouldn't want to be in the rotation. I enjoy going out there every day. I have that mentality now. As a starter, you pitch one day and don't contribute to a win for four more days outside of giving somebody some advice. I enjoy the fact that every day I come to the park, I have the chance to compete.
Mike Myers, who debuted with the Florida Marlins in 1995, pitched in 62 games with the Yankees this past season to increase his career total to 811 appearances, good for seventh among active players.
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