PEORIA, Ariz. â?? As he talked, Nick Hagadone crossed his arms with his massive right hand cradling his left elbow slightly, perhaps out of habit.
It was then that the scars became visible. The inside of his left elbow doesn’t look like one of a normal person.
A series of large purplish scars â?? the products of multiple surgeries to piece the elbow together â?? remain as reminders of what he’s been through to throw a baseball at a speed also not typical of the average person.
But the hope for Hagadone and the Mariners is that his oft-surgically repaired elbow is healthy enough to showcase his immense talent and lead him back to the big leagues with the team he grew up adoring as a child in Sumner.
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“I’m just excited to be healthy again,” he said. “Recovery-wise, I feel great and healthy. I’m looking forward to this spring.”
Hagadone is in Mariners’ camp as a non-roster invitee on a minor league contract. After sitting out all of 2016 and much of 2015 with the elbow issues, undergoing two surgeries for the same injury and contemplating retirement, he’s trying to pitch his way back. That his chance is with the Mariners is somewhat fitting.
“I was a huge fan growing up,” he said.
Hagadone threw a bullpen session at Safeco Field in late January with a few Mariners’ scouts and a handful of people from the baseball operations department watching. It was his first showcase session of his comeback.
“I may have gotten some other offers, but to be honest, I always told myself that if the Mariners ever offered me anything I was going to sign no matter what,” he said. “I didn’t consider any other offers. The Mariners were the first ones to call. They were the first team I threw for and I’ve been a fan since I was a kid so it was kind of a no brainer.”
General manager Jerry Dipoto, who was in Hong Kong at the time, read all of the reports on what the scouts and staff saw.
“He threw a fastball-only bullpen session,” Dipoto said. “He was operating in the low 90s in the bullpen, which is pretty firm without a hitter and any real adrenaline flow.”
When healthy, Hagadone had a fastball that could touch mid to upper 90s. Dipoto was more than familiar with Hagadone’s talent and potential from his days with the Indians and before that at University of Washington.
“It’s something you can easily identify â?? he’s got unbelievable downhill plane,” Dipoto said. “When you get a guy that’s 6-4 and he’s throwing straight downhill in the low 90s in a bullpen, who has a history of being a mid- to upper-90s arm, it’s just a matter of, ‘is he healthy?’ Because if he was healthy to give him an opportunity to …
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