Kevin Towers Toyed with Radar Gun to Mess with Brad Penny, Other Pitchers
Now we know why Brad Penny has been hampered by shoulder injuries for a good portion of his career. After hearing former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers’ recent comments, it all makes perfect sense. Using a clever little trick, Towers may have contributed to Penny eventually throwing his arm out.
Hardball Talk shared a story with us from the Arizona Republic on Friday in which Towers lends some inside information about how he used to toy with Penny’s and other pitcher’s heads when they were on the mound at Petco Park.
“We used to dial it down,” Towers said in response to questions about whether or not ballpark radar readings are accurate. “I know for a fact that every time Brad Penny pitched for the Dodgers in San Diego it was probably the lowest velocities he ever had. He liked velocity. He’d stare at the board. He was throwing 95-96 (mph), but we’d have it at 91 and he’d get pissed off and throw harder and harder and start elevating.”
Although Major League Baseball sends a memo to teams every year reminding them they are not allowed to manipulate radar readings, Towers went on to explain that the Padres would also bump the reading up a few MPH for their own pitchers, feeling it gave them a psychological advantage.
The Towers mind games are probably over now that a lot of fields are using computer technology to post radar readings on the scoreboard. However, Hardball Talk checked Penny’s career numbers in San Diego while he pitched for the Dodgers — 1-5 with a 6.47 ERA in 10 appearances. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe it’s that sort of bravado that’s needed to land a hot fiance like Penny did.