Post-surgery, Henderson still seeks former velocity

Post-surgery, Henderson still seeks former velocity

PHOENIX -- Generally speaking, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke prefers judging his pitchers based on how hitters are reactiving to their offerings, rather than relying on pitch-velocity readings, but he's interested in getting information about reliever Jim Henderson's velocity now that the Brewers have taken the radar gun out of storage.

Henderson, who has a 3.00 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, had surgery to remove bone spurs and repair fraying to the labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder in August. After a National League scout reported Henderson sitting in the 87-90-mph range on Tuesday against the Reds, Henderson's fastball was recorded at 92 mph on MLB.com's Gameday application against the Mariners on Friday.

That's still shy of the high-90s fastball Henderson is capable of when 100 percent.

"He's still not back," Roenicke said. "We'll have to see. He's got to get some life back, or whatever you want to call it."

Henderson said his shoulder feels great, and that he is not interested in radar-gun readings at this stage. His average fastball was 95 mph in 2012, when he broke into the Major Leagues after 10 years in the Minors; 95.3 mph in 2013, when he was Brewers closer; and 93.9 mph in 2014, when he pitched through the shoulder problem before shutting down.

"Last year, we were in the same spot. Is the shoulder an issue? Is it just getting him out there for games and building up strength?" Roenicke said. "I don't know. That's what we're waiting to see. I haven't paid attention to [Henderson's velocity] early, but we're getting to a point where I'm going to start looking at things."

Will Henderson need a few more ticks of velocity to crack the Brewers' bullpen?

"Depends if he's getting people out with it," Roenicke said. "If his slider gets really good and he's still pitching well, then that changes our mind. … I don't think he has to be 95. He's got a lot of 'funk' to him. Even at 90, you see some bad swings. So if he doesn't come back with the velocity, he's got to locate pitches."

Informed that the radar gun registered 92 mph in his most recent outing, Henderson shrugged and said, "We'll go for 93 next time, then."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.