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Monday, September 19, 2011
Rangers Magazine: Ferguson Jenkins

By Bryan Dolgin

While C.J. Wilson pitches every 5th day, the rest of the Texas Rangers starting rotation has had varying amounts of rest as it maintains its strength in the final month of the regular season. Conditioning for starting pitchers was a topic that came up in a recent conversation I had with Baseball and Texas Rangers Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, who was a recent guest on Rangers Magazine.

“I think the main topic they always brought up was to run. The lower half of your body is your strength. That propels you later into the ballgame. I ran all the time,” Jenkins recalled the advice from his pitching coaches. “I survived in Texas. Yeah, it was warm, but I still went out there and ran my 20 sprints every day, made sure I was prepared to start that ballgame within four or five days.”

Jenkins said he did not get mentally psyched out by the heat and even wore a long sleeved shirt under his jersey on the day he pitched because he felt that he was in really good shape. Jenkins pitched in the Major Leagues from 1965-1983, and he had two stints with the Rangers. The former Rangers, Phillies, Cubs and Red Sox hurler made the transformation from a “thrower” to a “pitcher” when he played winter ball in Puerto Rico early in his career.

“I learned how to change speeds, pitch location,” Jenkins said. “Stay ahead of the hitter in the count. The best pitch in baseball is a strike. And, make him swing at the pitch you want him to swing at.”

Certainly, the Rangers starting rotation has five pitchers who are getting the job done based on the aforementioned definition from Jenkins. Each of the Rangers in the starting rotation has at least 13 wins, the first time that’s happened for a team in the American League since the 1977 Orioles and Yankees.

In my conversation with Jenkins, he also talked about Wilson, Rangers baseball in the 1970s compared to present day, pitch counts, his influential pitching coaches, and who he would have liked to play for back in the day. Listen to the podcast. Rangers Magazine is heard on 103.3 FM ESPN each Saturday.