07/23/08 4:16 PM ET
Linebrink rusty but feeling better
Reliever has soreness after going for first time since July 8
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
That soreness was to be expected, according to Linebrink, after missing two weeks with shoulder fatigue and a small amount of tendinitis that had crept into the aforementioned area.
"Now, it's a matter of the layoff contributing to being rusty out there," said Linebrink, who still saw a noticeable improvement since the last time he pitched. "It's something we have to work through."
Linebrink was as valuable as any reliever in the American League up through the start of July, carrying a 1.36 ERA into the month as the White Sox eighth-inning whiz. The problems started to pop up for Linebrink at that point, leading to runs allowed in four straight appearances, raising his ERA to 2.37 as he subbed for closer Bobby Jenks.
On Tuesday, Linebrink gave up Chris Davis' single during mopup duty in the ninth inning but also struck out Brandon Boggs in a scoreless frame. It was about as much as Linebrink could expect after the layoff.
"I was just happy to throw strikes, and it looked like the velocity was there too," said Linebrink, who threw 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes. "It's another step along the way and hopefully we just build it from here.
"When I was last out there, I was just about at the end of my rope. It was feeling weak and tired, but now my body feels a lot better after the All Star break. It's a matter of getting out there and feeling stronger with the innings."
Soreness, as Linebrink experienced on Wednesday, is pretty much expected for any frequently used reliever at the 100-game mark of the season. The trouble from two weeks ago, though, was recognized fairly quickly by the veteran right-hander as something more than everyday issues.
"You go through soreness all the time," Linebrink said. "There are certain spots that you look for that are consistent with the daily grind we go through. There are other spots that are kind of warning lights to you. I guess the more you pitch, the more you know your body and read those warning signs.
"At this point in my career, I'm probably a little better mechanically. That really helps. It's something that nowadays that's a little more even keel just because you know your body a little bit better. But it was a good step last night to being where we want to be."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.