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Speedy Pitches, Not Recoveries, in a League of Rising Scars

from The New York Times

You don't even feel it, this lightning bolt from the pitching gods, this great separator between ordinary and special, between a healthy arm and a vulnerable one. At least that is how it was for Jarrod Parker, as a teenager in Indiana, the first time he threw a baseball 98 miles an hour. He did not know then what he had done, or what it really meant.

It was the first start of his senior year in high school, Parker remembered, cold and rainy, and his coach held him to three innings. Scouts were there to watch. Parker came out of the game and looked at his father, to get a signal for how hard he had thrown on the scouts' radar gun. His father held up eight fingers.

"And I'm like: 'Eighty-eight? Well, it's cold, whatever, it's early,'" Parker said recently in the home clubhouse of the Oakland Athletics. "And he was like, 'No — 98.' It never feels that much different between throwing a pitch at 88 or 98. You can't see it." The scouts saw it, though, and the fastball helped Parker become the ninth overall draft pick in 2007, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He zipped along for two years in the minors, then needed Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. This past March, with the A's, he had the operation again. more

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