Cubs’ Shawn Camp insists decreased velocity not cause for troubles
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 21, 2013 11:14PM
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Shawn Camp (54) stands on the mound after giving up a grand slam home run to Pittsburgh Pirates Travis Snider during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH – So what’s wrong with Shawn Camp?
The right-handed reliever manager Dale Sveum considered one of his team MVPs last year – a guy whose 80 appearances was tied for the Major League lead – has lost velocity since then and has struggled more than anyone still toiling in the Cubs’ beleaguered bullpen.
On this night, Camp’s hanging changeup was the biggest bullpen culprit in ruining Matt Garza’s impressive return from the disabled list – with pinch-hitter Travis Snider clobbering it for the game-changing grand slam in a 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
He was the third reliever in a five-run Pirates’ sixth after Garza handed the pen a 3-0 lead following five scoreless, one-hit innings.
It was the Cubs’ 10th blown save already this season. Camp has three of them – to go with a 7.56 ERA that’s more than twice as high as last year’s ERA.
“It’s hard to pin-point,” Sveum said of Camp’s struggles this year compared to last. “First and foremost when guy like that loses 2-3 mph on his fastball, everything else is a little short. That’s where we are.”
Camp, whose 2012 success earned him a $1.35 million deal this year, said his velocity’s no different.
“The ball was just up. It was just up,” he said. “That happens. I’ve just got to work down.”
Said Sveum: “He’s having trouble getting the balls up to 87 mph right now. So the spin on the slider’s going to be less, the arm speed on the slider’s going to be less. Everything’s a little short right now.”
After dismissing the velocity issue, Camp was asked whether he’s having problems with his changeup and snapped at the reporter – “that’s irrelevant.”
“Sometimes you go in these ruts, and you just have to get your way out of them,” said Camp, whose struggles might be magnified with the larger issues of a bullpen that has been a key weakness for the club so far. “I really don’t know what to say about it. It was just, [if I] get the guy out in front of it, and he pops it up, nobody’s talking about it.”