09/08/08 10:38 PM ET
Haren shrugs off injury speculation
D-backs right-hander says struggles not related to health
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Yes, the D-backs right-hander did battle some forearm stiffness earlier this season, but his struggles on the mound of late are not health related, he said emphatically Monday.
"It was just my forearm was tight in April and May," he said. "And it was something that I got through with a little massaging for about two or three weeks and I didn't feel a thing the rest of the year. I haven't felt any discomfort the rest of the year."
The fact that there has been speculation about his health is not a surprise to Haren.
"A lot of times when guys struggle, [observers] search for answers healthwise," he said. "It is humanly possible for pitchers to get hit around and not be hurting. Me and [former teammate Barry] Zito, we would always realize after a pitcher has two or three bad starts, four or five bad starts, all of a sudden, it's his shoulder, a shoulder impingement or elbow stiffness. We used to always joke that pitchers just couldn't get hit around; there had to be a health reason."
Haren's struggles, though, are no laughing matter to him. He was back at work Monday throwing a bullpen session under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Bryan Price.
"I've tried adding and subtracting velocity and I just haven't found the right mix yet," Haren said. "I've worked on stuff in the bullpen. I throw probably more than any pitcher. I'm still throwing two bullpens between every start, which I think is unusual."
It could be that the problem is more mental than physical, given the pressure that Haren has been putting on himself.
"I think a problem of mine, too, is taking my last start into games thinking this is the time where I want to turn it around," he said. "Actually, speaking to people, what I'm doing is putting the pressure on myself and trying to do more. I think that's probably been the biggest problem for me is that I'm trying to do too much."
Haren and fellow ace Brandon Webb have lost back-to-back each of their last three starts and both have expressed frustration with people questioning whether they are injured.
"We're trying to do a lot," Haren said. "We played a big part in carrying the team through good times and bad times and you know June and July we were throwing the ball great, and we are a big part of why the team is where we are right now, still having the opportunity to win the division. Part of it is we're trying to do so much, we're trying so hard to get the results that we want the eight innings, no runs rather than just trying to be ourselves. I think just trying to be ourselves is probably enough."
Haren's next outing will come Wednesday in the series finale against the Giants, while Webb will start Friday against the Reds at Chase Field.
"I'm just going to go out there and try to have fun for the first time in a month," Haren said. "I've put so much pressure on myself to win games that I think I've forgotten about pitching and worrying too much about the end result."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.