07/07/2011 11:51 AM ET
Westbrook: I'm all about routine
Bullpen sessions, workouts are key for Cardinals righty
Every pitcher -- starter or reliever -- has a routine that they follow in between outings.
For me, the day after I pitch I always try to get some cardio work in and a lower body workout. The next day includes a bullpen session. I get some work in there and do some gassers or some sprint work. The following day I get an upper body workout, followed by some agility work. The final day before a start includes some sprints and, I guess, just relaxing and getting mentally set for the game the next day.
There was a time in my past when I didn't throw in between starts. I had some pain in my elbow so I needed all four days off to rest my arm. For about six or seven years, I didn't do any bullpen sessions between starts. The only time I really threw other than games was if I had an extra day of rest. It was tough because I really like throwing bullpen sessions. It helps you stay sharp.
I think it's pretty uncommon for a pitcher not to throw in between starts. Sometimes guys will be hurting or burnt out and they will skip it once in a while, but for the most part everyone throws a little. I guess some guys could say they don't want to throw, but I think it all depends on how they are pitching at that point. If a guy is having a lot of success, then I think the pitching coach will give him some leeway on that issue. But that is for guys who are more established. I can't imagine a young guy coming in and telling his coach that he doesn't want to throw in between starts.
Bullpen sessions are there to help you. It's where you fine-tune your mechanics and work out the kinks. It's a time to work on stuff and help out your game. That's why I love my bullpen sessions. My arm feels great, and they allow me to get my work in.
I think that different players have different ways of approaching their bullpen sessions. I usually do the same routine I would do before a game. I will try and throw the same number of fastballs, curves, sliders, etc. After I've completed that set, I will see if I can get someone to stand in there so I can work on placement. That allows me to mix it up, change the hitter from lefty to a right-handed batter and so on. It's always good to work on some game-type situations.
Veteran starter Jake Westbrook has pitched in the big leagues since 2000, making 210 starts and also pitching out of the bullpen when he was breaking into the Majors. He has won 15 games in a season twice and this year he is 7-4 in his first full campaign with the Cardinals.