A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News

Colton Turner Healthy Once Again

Colton Turner Healthy Once Again

January 22, 2016

Colton Turner

Colton Turner is healthy once again. (Kyle Castle)

Finding consistency in baseball after a long absence from the game can present a real challenge for a young player. With players usually following a strict daily routine any changes in their schedule can throw off what they’re trying to accomplish every day.

Tommy John surgery is a common reason for this kind of hiatus from the sport. Recovery from this procedure is long and agonizing for pitchers as they have to strengthen their elbows, while trying to keep their shoulders and mechanics strong.

Just completing this tough rehabilitation a year ago, left-handed pitcher Colton Turner returned to the mound in 2015 after sitting out an entire season. As expected his return was a little challenging for the Texas native who performed extremely well for the Vancouver Canadians and Lansing Lugnuts respectably in his first two professional seasons.

Unfortunately the beginning of his 2015 campaign was a little bit different than in the past. Finding it difficult to consistently hit the strike zone early in the season inflated Turner’s numbers a bit. But like with any obstacle you face in life he got better with more repetition.

Going 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 65 innings for the Lugnuts; Turner performed better than his numbers would indicate. Finding his rhythm in the second half of the season, Turner maintained a 1.24 WHIP, a vast improvement over the 1.96 mark he carried in the first two months of the season.

The biggest difference for Turner was the fact that he was mostly utilized as a long reliever. Used more as a starter and a closer in previous professional seasons, the prospect had to adjust to coming into the game in a mop up role more than with the contest on the line.

While his duties changed last season, Turner welcomed the adjustments he made to his game. Enjoying every opportunity that he’s granted to go out to the hill and showcase his abilities the 25-year old pitcher was grateful for his time with the Lugnuts during 2015.

“Long relief is definitely different than starting,” explained Turner. “When you’re starting you have your own routine. But in long relief you don’t have set days. You go out there trying to help keep your team in the game. My goal all season was to make the most of my opportunities. Whether it’s starting, relieving, or closing I’ll do it all. I’ll do whatever it takes to get on the field.”

Turner’s success on the mound comes from his four pitches. Using the exact same mix that he did prior to his operation, the prospect still uses his fastball, slider, changeup, and curveball every outing. Even though he stepped away from the game for an extended period of time Turner admits the feel for his pitches came right back.

“The feel came back really quickly,” stated Turner. “At first I had a little trouble locating the ball. But the pitches themselves felt good. I really thought it would feel weird getting back out to the mound the first time. But it’s like riding a bicycle once you get back to it you realize quickly that you don’t forget how to throw the ball.”

While he’s competing with four pitches at the moment Turner is focused on improving his repertoire any way he can. With a greater opportunity of keeping hitters off-balanced with extra pitches in his arsenal Turner is in the process of learning a new grip.

“I’m in the process of learning how to throw a cutter,” said Turner. “I’m still working on the pitch. I’d say it’s a work in progress.”

Many pitchers that have gone through Tommy John notice an increase in their velocity when getting used to throwing again. Definitely seeing that one advantage in his first year back on the mound Turner is excited for how his velocity improved over time and is looking forward to more in the future.

“I think my velocity went up after Tommy John,” said Turner. “When you get out there during the rehab process you’re continuing to get stronger every time. Since returning to game action I feel my velocity has picked up a little bit over the season. I hope my velocity continues to go up in the future.”

Inspired by the way Turner was able to come back into the game and compete at a high level every night. Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Jeff Ware feels the young pitcher handled his role well all season as he was adjusting to throwing on his surgically repaired elbow.

“I think Colton Turner has been great,” stated Ware. “Colton missed about a year and a half of game time. To come back the way he has and be able to pound the strike zone, while mixing in his slider and changeup is a great sign. Colton is proving he’s back on the mound.”

With Tommy John surgery becoming a growing epidemic among young throwers, Turner has some advice for anybody that’s currently going through the process, or will be going through it in the near future.

“Stay on top of your shoulder,” explained Turner. “A pitcher going through Tommy John will really want to work hard in the weight room. The more work you put in the rehab process. The better your results will be.”

Getting extra innings this off-season as a member of the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League, the Blue Jays coaching staff is hoping this opportunity will help Turner make up for his lost time on the hill.

This experience will definitely help the lefty be ready for the challenges that will be placed in front of him during spring training. Roughly two years older than the majority of his competition Turner will definitely want to prove his worth in camp so he doesn’t become complacent.

Whatever happens to Colton Turner in the game of baseball, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays are happy that he’s healthy once again and competing in the game he loves.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford

Latest posts by Brian Crawford (see all)