Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, who has had a pair of lost seasons in a row thanks to injuries, threw about 35 pitches to live hitters Tuesday and seemed pleased with the results.
Lohse told Fox Sports Midwest that he is able to throw his slider effectively for the first time since he was hit on the forearm with a batted ball early in the 2009 season. One of the hitters he faced, David Freese, stepped out of the box at one point to compliment Lohse on how good the pitch looked.
"It was kind of back to the old slider I had before all the stuff started happening," Lohse told Fox Sports Midwest. "I was able to snap it off and it felt good. That was the problem because sometimes I would get the right rotation but it just wasn't snapping and it's all because of the force I wasn't able to put on it. It felt good today.
It would be a spectacularly huge shot in the arm to get Lohse back to his 2008 level of effectiveness in 2011. He was a black hole in the rotation the last two seasons, either out with arm problems or pitching poorly when he managed to make it to the hill. If he could return to be a decent third starter, it would take a ton of pressure off the rest of the rotation because ace Chris Carpenter might be able to get an extra day of rest here and there. Jamie Garcia, essentially a second-year starter, won't have to carry as much weight as he did last season when he pitched better than you could reasonable expect from a guy who was on the shelf for a year because he needed Tommy John surgery.
While the action on Lohse's pitches was much better than it has been, he said his control was better, too.
"It was fun to be back to throwing the ball and knowing exactly how it's going to come out and not going pitch to pitch to try and think of an adjustment because that one spun or did something different," Lohse told Fox Sports Midwest. "That's the fun part right now, being able to go out there and not have to worry about correcting the last one."