View Full Version : Avery advances to Double-A with aggressive approach

08-04-2010, 12:24 PM
Apparently Avery is on the Reds' 40-man roster. :D

James Avery's "Aha!" moment came May 27 in Myrtle Beach, when he walked a batter and had finally had his fill of pitching tentatively. So the Hillcats right-hander, less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, reared back, cut loose and let 'er rip.

"I just thought to myself, 'I've had enough of this.' So I decided to just throw as hard as I could, and if they hit it, fine," recalled Avery. "Once I cleared that mental hurdle, the physical stuff came pretty quickly. ... It's about feeling more [in control]. I've been so much more aggressive because I'm no longer worried about getting hurt."

Pitching for the Hillcats, the Cincinnati Reds' Class A Advanced affiliate, Avery made significant strides in his recovery from surgery, which cost him most of last year and the beginning of 2010. His efforts were rewarded Monday, when he was promoted to Double-A Carolina.

"It's as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. When you get back, you're almost hesitant to let it fly for fear of getting hurt again," said Avery, who was 6-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 12 starts for Lynchburg. After the All-Star break in June, Avery went 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

Hillcats pitching coach Rigo Beltran remembers watching Avery hold back earlier this season.

"[Avery] was trying to be too fine," Beltran said. "He can be a perfectionist sometimes. ... I remember him stepping back and all of a sudden starting to challenge people on a regular basis. That was the turnaround for him."

At 26, Avery was an elder statesman in the Hillcats clubhouse. He wasn't always comfortable being several years older than most of his teammates, but the native of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, who thought he was done with the Class A Advanced level after making 26 starts for Sarasota of the Florida State League in 2006, understood why the Reds chose Lynchburg as the site for his recovery season.

Avery has been to Major League Spring Training with the Reds and is on their 40-man roster. Cincinnati has sent veteran pitchers like Edinson Volquez and Billy Bray to Lynchburg on rehabilitation assignments. The result is an opportunity for young Hillcats pitchers to learn from more experienced hurlers.

"It's been rewarding to have guys like that around our younger pitchers because of what they can learn from watching them," Beltran said.

Avery's fastball has gained some zip, and he wants to start pitching six innings per start, something that limited pitch counts made impossible early in his rehabilitation.

"If I do that, it proves I can and I'm healthy. If I make every start the rest of the season, it'll be a pretty good season for me," said Avery, who walked 20 and allowed three home runs in 65 1/3 innings for Lynchburg.

And if the pattern of the typical Tommy John patient continues to hold true, better days are ahead.

"People say the offseason after Tommy John you feel like a million bucks. I hope so. We'll see," Avery said.

08-04-2010, 05:00 PM
Typo. He's on the 400 man roster.

08-04-2010, 06:19 PM
Typo. He's on the 400 man roster.
Well, it's a good thing the 26-year-old got to learn from experienced players such as Bill Bray and Edinson Volquez. Without their veteran presence, he may have never gotten back to AA. I'm sure those two are like father figures to him.