Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Sports

April 4, 2013

Thatcher taking it slowly

Kokomo native, Padres' pitcher easing back into pitching after offseason surgery

SAN DIEGO — SAN DIEGO — Kokomo native Joe Thatcher’s road to his seventh season pitching for the San Diego Padres wasn’t as ideal as he would have liked.

But, things seemed to have worked themselves out quite nicely for the left-handed reliever.

After having shoulder and knee surgeries over the course of the past two seasons, Thatcher was given a clean bill of health before the start of spring training, making the Padres’ spring training opening roster for the first time since 2008.

 He even appeared in San Diego’s regular-season opening-day contest with the New York Mets.

“Everything feels healthy now,” Thatcher told MLB.com during spring training. “The knee feels good. I wasn’t able to run until two or so weeks before spring training, so I had to get caught up.”

Thatcher, a product of Kokomo High School, pitched with pain in his throwing shoulder in 2010 and 2011 before going under the knife to repair labrum damage.

He returned from that just fine in 2012 and put together a strong season. In 55 appearances he finished with a 1-4 record and a save in 33 1/3 innings of work. In that time, he amassed a 3.41 ERA, giving up 13 runs — 12 earned —on 30 hits and 14 walks. He fanned 39 and finished with a 1.39 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).

He pitched the latter part of the season with knee pain, and in October he went under the knife once again, this time for an arthroscopic procedure to repair tendon damage in the right knee.

He was able to give it a go in spring training, but was limited in his work, appearing in just eight of San Diego’s 36 games (the team went 16-20), posting a 1-0 record in 6 2/3 innings of work. In that span, he allowed four runs — two earned — on nine hits and three walks. He finished the spring with a 2.70 ERA, five strikeouts and a 1.80 WHIP.

“Arm-wise, for what I do, I don’t need to build up the big pitch count,” said Thatcher, who’s been used as a situational lefty for the bulk of his career. “Toward the end of the spring, [I started] throwing more and getting used to being available every day.”

Since 2009, the 31-year-old Thatcher holds a 2.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and has averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. His 190 appearances in that same span is the third most by a Padre pitcher.

“He’s made a lot of strides in a number of areas. One thing he’s been able to do, especially the last few years, is perform pretty well against left and right hitters, especially left,” San Diego manager Bud Black told MLB.com this spring. “We’ve seen the more consistent strike. When he’s needed to throw a strike, he has. He’s done pretty well against some of the best left-handed hitters in the league the last few years.”

The organization rewarded him for his labor, as the two sides avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35 million contract in January. It was Thatcher’s second year being eligible for arbitration. Among the current members of the Padres’ roster, he has the third longest tenure behind third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Tim Stauffer.

“I love playing for [Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley],” Thatcher said. “I love it here. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

In Monday’s regular season opener, Thatcher made an appearance, inducing a groundout on the only pitch he threw to close out the eighth inning of an 11-2 loss to the Mets in New York.

The Padres are looking to improve upon last season’s disappointing finish at 76-86, 18 games out of first place behind eventual World Series champion San Francisco, which won the National League West division with a 94-68 record before sweeping Detroit in the World Series.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • SPL - KT041714 Kokomo-Western baseball - pic 2 Kats top Panthers in baseball Since the inception of class sports, the annual early-season baseball matchup between Kokomo and Western had been solely for in-county bragging rights. With Western moving up to Class 4A for the next two seasons because of the IHSAA's new success factor, the rivals met up Wednesday as potential sectional opponents for the first time since 1997.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup for Thursday, April 17 Eastern junior Caleb Aaron tossed a four-hitter to lead the Comets past Northwestern 3-1 in a Howard County baseball clash Wednesday at Greentown.

    April 17, 2014

  • SPL - KT041714 - B1 briefs - Edwards mug Sports briefs for Thursday, April 17 The North Central Conference on Wednesday announced Indianapolis Arsenal Tech will join the conference on April 1, 2015.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 - Boys golf preview - secondary pic BOYS GOLF: Howard County preview Western's boys golf team is thinking big this season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 Girls tennis Preview - pic GIRLS TENNIS: Howard County preview After 39 seasons and counting as the boys tennis coach at Taylor High School, Dave Wise is entering his 24th season leading the Titan girls.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Western hires coaches - mug Western hires football, volley coaches Western High School's search for a new football coach is over. Western on Tuesday named Ron Jankovich its new coach during a board meeting. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Bethel University in Tennessee. He was the Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Brett Bowman column - Bowman ID BOWMAN: Abreu shines in Kokomo GP Although he might be short in size, California's Rico Abreu was tall in stature after dominating the two-day Kokomo Grand Prix for the USAC Honda National Midget Series and the Lucas Oil Powri National Midgets over the weekend at the Kokomo Speedway.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041514 - Kokomo girls BB coach - mug Cusick is Lady Kats' new coach Heather Cusick is enjoying a pretty good month. Kokomo High School on Monday selected Cusick as its new girls basketball coach. Three days earlier, she became engaged to Michael Mygrant.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs for Tuesday, April 15 Gary Harris is going pro, thanks in part to coach Tom Izzo's recommendation.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wrestling teams fare well Wrestlers from Western and Peru fared well in weekend tournaments.

    April 15, 2014