Monday, January 16, 2006
After an appearance at the Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up, Sidney Ponson has picked up a little ink in the hometown fishwrap and around the internet. He grew his hair out. He sees a counselor. He's in the mix for the fifth starter role in the Cardinals' rotation. As much as I really, really hate to see Anthony Reyes relegated to purgatory in Memphis or even the bullpen, hopefully Ponson finds his talent again and whips the personal scourge of alcoholism. While Ponson's efforts to stay alcohol free garner the most attention in a modern media valuing personal stories more than news, I think the other major factor that has to happen for Ponson to pitch well again is for him to get in tip-top shape. Ponson needs to work on his conditioning so that he can get his fastball back to the 92-94 MPH range and pitch into the sixth or seventh inning, if he starts. If his physical conditioning is where it should be for an athlete being paid a million bucks or more, then he won't be leaving pitches up in the zone as a result of sheer exhaustion. He can throw the off-speed stuff and a fastball and a slider with a little velocity. An Orioles fan friend of mine at work, tells me that Ponson's success in 2003 revolved around a slider. If he is off the hooch and really working hard on conditioning, there's reason to believe that he can, at the very least, get back to 2003 shape, maybe better. I still argue Reyes should have a starting spot.