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Finally healthy, Haley looks to make it as a reliever

Right-hander looks to be more consistent as he finally leaves groin problems behind him

Finally healthy, Haley looks to make it as a reliever
Trey Haley (Photo: Lianna Holub)
May 16, 2013
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A sports hernia is an often-misdiagnosed tearing of the oblique abdominal muscles. At least that is what the good people at sportshernia.com tell me.

Akron Aeros right-hander Trey Haley managed to pitch through the pain of a misdiagnosed sport hernia over parts of the previous three seasons -- in particular last season. When he was shut down for surgery in early June, he owned a 1.26 ERA in 14.1 innings, amazing considering the circumstances.

After finding a way to perform with great amounts of pain, Haley is happy to be in Akron and finally healthy.

"It feels good. I'm just able to go out there," Haley said. "Right now, I'm just trying to concentrate on throwing my fastball early over the plate and go out there and give my team the best chance to win."

While Haley was getting results in High-A Carolina before his surgery last year, the difference in the right-hander pre-surgery and post-surgery was clear according to Akron manager (and then-Carolina manager) Edwin Rodriguez.

"You can tell. It was bothering him," Rodriguez said. "Things like that, not only physically but mentally, can affect any player. It was good that he got that out of the way and now he can concentrate on his game."

With his health issues in the past, Haley is actually able to be like every other minor leaguer out there right now in trying to improve his pitching. In the past, it was about finding a way to perform at all; now the 22-year-old needs to perform at a high-level day-in and day-out.

"He has to be out there and be consistent," Rodriguez said. "Pretty much all the players in the minor leagues, position [players] or pitchers, the main thing is for them to be consistent. Being able to, whatever talent they have, be able to bring it [on] an everyday basis. That's pretty much the same with Trey."

Haley has some work to do this year, as in 10.1 innings he has struck out 11 batters -- and walked 11. Still, when it comes to development, only one number really stands out when it comes to the right-hander: 100.

Now that he is back to full health, Haley is able to consistently throw his fastball 100 MPH. While he is excited about the brand-new HD scoreboard, Haley is not using it to take peeks at his velocity on the radar gun between pitches.

"I try not to look at that," Haley said. "[I] try to stay focused, looking at the catcher."

Now, velocity is all fun and games, but a pitcher will not stick around if he only has heat. So what else do you have Trey?

"[I'm] still throwing my two-seam, curveball, and also a slider," Haley said. "I've got a changeup as well, but I haven't used it... It just seems to be working going slider/curveball."

Those breaking pitches are working even better than in 2012 according to his manager.

"I think that breaking ball... is a little more tight, more late break than last year," Rodriguez said. "The stuff is there: A big league fastball, [and] a big league breaking ball."

Haley is getting away without throwing his changeup now that he is throwing out of the bullpen, but it would seem to be a necessary pitch if he were to go back to being a starting pitcher. The right-hander would have more value as a starter -- assuming he could maintain his velocity and turn the lineup over -- but Rodriguez said that he has not heard anything about moving him back to the rotation.

For what it's worth, Haley himself is having fun pitching as a reliever.

"You've got to have good conversations," Haley said of being in the bullpen. "[We have] a lot of good guys. We've known each other for a while. Coming here, it's definitely fun... We're kind of like brothers out there. We know each other well, so it's always a fun time.

"Right now, I'm just coming out of the 'pen and trying to do whatever the team needs me to do."

Haley is aware that he needs to improve his strike throwing in order to make it to the major leagues. What is most important, though, is that the right-hander is back to the basics of baseball: enjoying playing the game.

"Just go out there and pound the zone and keep having fun," Haley said of his goals for the year. "That's what it's about."

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

Rich
May 17, 2013 - 8:44 AM EDT
Good article. Haley's manager pointed out the stuff is there - both a major league fastball and breaking ball. The problem is command; 11 walks allowed in 10.1 innings. Jim stated clearly that this is what's holding Haley back, and Haley knows it.

Are stretching, range of motion exercises, or yoga going to improve his command? No. It's a matter of working on repeating his delivery and making sure his mechanics are sound. Plus, now that he's healthy he should get more work in which should accelerate his progress.

All in all a good, informative article on a guy with a very high upside.

I still don't understand why it took three years to diagnose the sports hernia, and that obviously slowed his development. But he's still a healthy, 22-year-old who throws 100 mph, so that's exciting in and of itself.

There's no way he could start if he's walking a lot of batters because his pitch count would be too high and he'd never make it past the 4th or 5th inning. So at the moment he should be relieving. If he starts throwing strikes consistently and develops a reliable breaking ball then they can consider making him a starter.
Homer
May 17, 2013 - 8:16 AM EDT
Man it seems like Haley has been in the system forever, and he's still only 22. I'd love to the Tribe stretch him back out as a SP, but I get it with Haley. I do think there is legit concern with his control and performance, it's the untapped potential (FOR arm / stuff). On that note however, Haley has to have the makeup for it to work. I am not saying he doesn't frankly, I'm not sure, I think it would be a concern. Scott Barnes is another story, but I'll defer those comments for another time. The Tribe is just flat out loaded with RHRP and with another draft soon upon
jwahoo
May 17, 2013 - 1:14 AM EDT
I also hope he continues to work on his changeup. A guy who mix up 100 MPH fastball up with a curve ball and slider and then even throw in a change up once in awhile could be beyond dominate in the bullpen.
jwahoo
May 17, 2013 - 1:11 AM EDT
Dennis

Dude, you come across as a jerk. These guys give the best tribe coverage period. You couldn't even find articles on non "blue chip" prospects ANYWHERE 10 years ago.

This article just seemed to be letting everyone know hes healthy now, in the bullpen and throwing 100 MPH.

They should leave him in the bullpen where he can hopefully stay healthy. Having a guy who and throw 2-3 innings at a time and hit 100 MPH is huge. I see him as perhaps the best closer in waiting once Perez is gone.

Imagine a bullpen of Haley, Pestano, Smith, Hagadone, Soto, Shaw and Salazar.
Jim Piascik
May 16, 2013 - 11:42 PM EDT
I could see them both going up. Since they're both probably in the bullpen now (due to size/injury history for Adams and consistency/stuff playing up better in short stints for Haley) I could see them both moving once things start moving ahead of them in Columbus.

The only thing holding them back is the deep depth of right-handed relief pitching up in Columbus. But considering that they're pitchers, some of them will break down. Just a sad fact of pitching.
Will
May 16, 2013 - 11:15 PM EDT
Dennis - actually this was a free article. So chill out.

Tony and Jim - Thanks for the article! I also enjoyed the Adams article yesterday. I think these are two high ceiling guys if they can stay healthy. Do you see any scenario that either or both of them can make it to AAA this season?
Tony
May 16, 2013 - 10:03 PM EDT
Not sure I see the problem with what Jim wrote, but I understand that it is impossible to make everyone happy. I'm always open to constructive feedback, so feel free to do so anytime. I (we) are always looking for ways to improve and get a better pulse of the readers.
Jason
May 16, 2013 - 9:28 PM EDT
Is this the return of Nosco?

Nice article Jim.
William
May 16, 2013 - 9:14 PM EDT
Jim, pay no attention to that prior comment. I felt this was a well done article. Not happy to see Haley stuck in the pen, but glad he is healthy and hope he can make it as a reliever. Those command issues unfortunately have made it necessary to keep him there.
Dennis
May 16, 2013 - 8:38 PM EDT
Great.. another impact arm that could be that FOR stud is now heading down the path of an RP.. After misdiagnosing a sports hernia for three years?. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???!!!!????!!!!???!! THREE YEARS??? ANYONE EXPOSING THE DOC who's malpractice the Indians have to thank for this?????

Now, onto this article (and as a summary of several of your articles)Jim.. I mean this most sincerely and with forthright honesty:

I assume the point of this article is to define the path to the majors for this youngster. That is, it delineated the steps as having "things that have to be worked on" so the the pitcher can get "consistent".. Is this a complete and utter joke??. If you have NOTHING to say.. say nothing. Talk to the depth of your audience. .not to third grade level and below:

Examples:

Does he need core strengthening..what types of activities are being used for this purpose..

Does he need range of motion flexibility to maximize his velocity.. what kind of stretching.. yoga.. are other working with him..etc..

Does he need.. A HUNDRED OTHER "THINGS" that will help him become a major league pitcher..

Not this tripe and drivel or things and adjustments. Are you trying to be Rick Manning?. It's bad enough listening to more than one snooze-fest called Smoke Signals (you might consider trying some interactive & spirited conversation with some of your audience.. if there's any left) but to have articles about players the real fans are interested in being posted and find what you've written as what' happening?. Your articles are lacking depth and it's getting downright distasteful to read. It's the same fluff over and over..

You're at the BIG BOY TABLE now.. that is, you want to charge for premium content.. This site has to step it up because, recently, it absolutely doesn't have it to go...

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