The wear and tear of 11 years of professional pitching led to Mitch Talbot, 30, getting an arthroscopic elbow scope in the spring of 2013. The righthander signed with the Mets and tried to return last September in Triple-A Las Vegas, but the start didn't go well. After throwing three innings, Talbot felt pain and came to terms with the fact that he had returned too early. Back to the rehab grind.
After the long winter, Talbot was finally ready. But realizing that teams would need pitchers who could go deeper into games than he could at the time, Talbot went the Atlantic League route. He signed with the Ducks on June 30 and is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched, entering action Saturday.
Talbot pitched parts of three seasons in the major leagues. He made his debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. He spent his final two years in the big leagues pitching for the Cleveland Indians, making 28 starts in 2010 and finishing 10-13 with a 4.41 ERA. He has a 12-19 career record with a 5.30 ERA at baseball's highest level.
How difficult was rehabbing the injury?
I wouldn't say it was difficult. It was just stretching out the arm, trying to get out the scar tissue that had built up. That's what took so long. It's usually about a three-month rehab, but my arm had scarred up so bad that I couldn't bend it. There was a lot of deep tissue massaging, or what they call scraping. It was a lot of pain and a lot of work just trying to get the arm to straighten out again and break up that scar tissue.
When and were back on a professional mound again (July 5), what was that feeling like?
I was anxious and had a lot of adrenaline going. I was nervous. It had been a little over a year since I had pitched healthy. It was a good feeling to get back.
You threw five innings in a win over Bridgeport last Sunday. Do you feel like you're stretched out to a point in which you can go deeper into games?
Physically, I feel fine. It's just a matter of getting the arm in shape enough to throw more pitches. [The Bridgeport game] I had a maximum of 75 pitches that I could use . . . As long as there is no type of setback with my arm, I'll be able to go a little bit deeper [going forward] . . . I've been trying to increase 15 pitches per start. I think that's a good buildup rate.
The Ducks' 13-game losing streak was snapped last Saturday in Camden. What was the atmosphere in the locker room after the slide finally ended?
It felt like a big weight was off our shoulders. It felt like we could relax again and get back into the swing of things. We were sort of pressing in the games and trying to do too much. It was good to have that out of the way.
You started the next day. Was there any sense of relief that the streak got snapped before your turn in the rotation?
No, not really. I wasn't too worried about it. I felt pretty confident with my ability to pitch and I felt like we had a pretty good chance. You try not to let those things affect you and go about your business like your normally do. You don't want to change anything because there's a losing streak.
Next Up: The Ducks host the York Revolution in the first of a three-game set Sunday evening at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.