JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Fans had eagerly awaited the return of Lance Lynn, devourer of innings and possessor of endlessly varying fastballs, for more than a year.
Missing 2016 with Tommy John surgery, the big righty’s absence left a noticeable hole in a rotation that at times struggled mightily to consistently chew through frames.
Lynn made his first spring start Monday, but if he felt any catharsis from his return to major league action (such as it is in spring), he didn’t show it.
“I threw the ball really well for it being February,” he said in his trademark dry style. “It’s just like it was last year when I faced live hitters in game situations. It felt good.”
Lynn threw 35 pitches over six outs, allowed four hits, a run and a walk. His arsenal of fastballs was alive and well and, from what observers could see, he didn’t look like a pitcher fighting rust.
“He looked really good,” said Monday’s stand-in manager David Bell (Mike Matheny was in Fort Myers for the split squad game against Boston). “I know he allowed a few hits there in the second inning, but he was making good pitches. He really looked under control. He looked like he had a good tempo and was really under control and comfortable.”
Lynn, not exactly the effusive type, took less away from the outing, which saw him face hitters like Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.
“For being February it feels pretty good right now, so hopefully it feels good in April. That’s the only thing that matters,” he said.
With a fully functional pitching arm, Lynn could conceivably expand his repertoire once again. Pitching through elbow trouble meant a limited ability to throw secondary pitches, something he compensated for by varying the action on his heavy fastball.
Now uninhibited, the 29-year-old doesn’t have any plans to change, at least not ones he’s willing to share.
“I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get people out. If that involves throwing all fastballs, I will. If I have to mix it up, I will. But I’ve had some pretty good successful with the fastball, so I’m going to keep doing me,” he said.
But... isn’t nice to have options again?
“Options are overrated. If you like what you like, just go ahead and eat it. It’s like having a buffet line, just go get what you eat. Don’t worry about the rest of it,” he said.
Well there you go. As far as what he worked on Monday, Lynn said he just threw whatever catcher Yadier Molina called. In his words that was “every pitch,” which could just as easily be a clever joke as an admission of variety.
Lynn will likely get six starts during spring as he works back to season form, but that too remains unclear. He gave no indication before heading out Monday, offering only, “I’m just throwing when I’m told. I’m just an employee. I pitch when I’m told.”
If everything goes well in spring, there shouldn’t be any restrictions on Lynn during the season. His arm surgery was early enough to allow him a normal offseason, meaning he’s as squared up for a clean return as a pitcher who goes under the knife can be.
“I’m guessing since I’m not under contract after this year they’re going to let me roll, but we’ll find out,” he said when asked about his expected workload. “You guys know me. I don’t like pitch counts, anything, so I just want to pitch. If I feel good, I want to pitch. That’s the way it’s going be hopefully.”
But that’s still more than a month away.
Monday’s outing was plenty interesting, just not to Lance Lynn. Ask him in April. Until then, “I felt like I was just getting the first outing in.”