ARLINGTON, Texas - What Nolan Ryan told Brandon McCarthy in a special bullpen workout session a few weeks back wasn't revolutionary stuff in the spectrum of 100 years of pitching technology.
But it was revolutionary to McCarthy, who is expected to make his season debut for the Rangers on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.
When the injury-prone 25-year-old spent time with the Rangers president, as well as new pitching coach Andy Hawkins and new bullpen coach Jim Colborn, he heard the same thing a lot of pitchers have heard throughout the years - push off your back leg, use your lower body, take the pressure off your arm.
"The big thing was getting me on my back leg and making sure I used it," said the 6-foot-7 McCarthy. "I had become a really tall and fall pitcher, and I had taken my legs out of it completely.
And a guy with my size and body type . . . that puts way too much stress on my arm, and I don't have the muscle or the frame to support all of that."
But while McCarthy probably has heard the same spiel a dozen times in his career, it stuck this time. He went back to Triple-A Oklahoma and produced two shutout performances - collecting 11 strikeouts and handing out just two walks over 13 innings. It was an amazing turnaround for McCarthy, who has been out all season with inflammation in his forearm.
"It fixed everything else that had been going wrong, and my arm has felt great because of it," he said of the workout session. "It was, in some ways, a cure-all."
So is Ryan that much of a genius - or does he command that much respect?
"Sometimes, coming from a different voice, it just sinks in different," said Ryan, who was able to fashion a long career because of his ability to use his legs. "I'll admit that I'm real anxious to see how it transfers and how he retains it, but I can tell you that the difference between the start of the session and the end of the session was considerable."
Ryan credits Hawkins and Colborn and said he's excited to help players like McCarthy. McCarthy said he's excited to be a part of the Rangers with Ryan at the helm.
"There's a lot of bright baseball minds here, and with Nolan at the top of that, there's not much more that you can ask for," McCarthy said. "But having them all there and collaborating, and they've all seen different things and had different pitching styles themselves, it's definitely beneficial. I think the change in philosophy is going to be awesome. It's an exciting time."
How exciting for McCarthy is still to be determined. He has the pressure of trying to live up the fact he was traded for John Danks, who has a 10-5 record this season. More important, he said, is the fact the Rangers are relying on him to be a starter near the front of the rotation.
(c) 2008, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.