ARLINGTON -- Jamie Evans has helped a countless number of pitchers over the years with his Velocity Program, and it has now resulted in a job with the Blue Jays.
MLB.com has learned that Toronto officially hired Evans this week as a consultant to the organization. He is one of the originators of the weighted-ball program, which has been used by the likes of Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil, Casey Janssen and most recently Dustin McGowan.
Evans will work exclusively with the Blue Jays, but, for now at least, is permitted to continue the development of amateur players. Evans had been working with numerous professional athletes including Texas' Jason Frasor and the sons of Boston manager John Farrell.
"I'm excited to join the Blue Jays; they have an unbelievably knowledgeable staff who care about their players, and I'm hoping to help in any way that I can," Evans told MLB.com.
Evans' weighted-ball program has seen a large increase in popularity over the past year, and the Blue Jays appear to be getting ahead of the curve by bringing Evans into the fold.
The workout routine involves the use of weighted balls to strengthen muscles around the shoulder. As part of the process, pitchers use various holds and also go through their throwing motion without releasing the ball.
The idea for the program originally came from a study involving tennis players. Those athletes rarely sustain shoulder injuries despite going through a similar motion during their serves as a pitcher.
Evidence suggested that a reason for the lack of injuries among tennis players was that they did not release the racket during their serve. That spurred the use of a weighted ball that would not be released during a pitcher's motion.
"I think it's a great move by the Blue Jays to do that," Cecil said of the hiring. "You see Dustin, unfortunately he has been scuffling with injuries for so long, and then they put these weighted balls in his hand, does the workout with Jamie personally and he goes to Triple-A, arm feels great. He comes up here and throws back-to-back days; if that's not a testament to how effective it is, I don't know what is."
Delabar brought a lot of attention to the program two years ago when he credited it with helping him return from a fractured right elbow. Toronto's right-handed reliever was out of the game and working as a substitute teacher in Kentucky when he began using the program with student athletes he was helping coach.
There was never any real intention of starting a comeback, but Delabar began using the program because he wanted to have a full understanding so he could teach it to his players. The results that followed were shocking.
During his first stint in baseball, in the Padres' Minor League system from 2004-09, Delabar was throwing only 89-92 mph, but by 2011 he was consistently hitting 93-95, and that was post-injury. He was invited to work out for the Mariners and eventually signed a professional contract. Now, Delabar is one of the most reliable pitchers in the game as evidenced by his 1.85 ERA in 34 innings this season.
"I wouldn't be here; I definitely wouldn't be here," Delabar, 29, said of how the program helped him. "I was 27 years old at the time when I started the program, and guys like that don't get a shot if the velocity number's not there. That radar gun is everything that got me here."
Evans has tailored his program over the years to each athlete's individual needs. As well as the offseason workout program, there is another that can be used during in season that serves as more of a method for maintenance and recovery.
Janssen, for example, is using a modified version of the routine that is not quite as intense as some of his counterparts'. That is mainly because Janssen did not start the program until the start of the season after offseason shoulder surgery. Janssen said the work would continue but that the intensity would really pick end when the year comes to an end.
There was a stigma associated with the program that it might be some sort of fad, but that has been begun to change in a hurry. The success stories continuing to pour in from around the league have opened the eyes of a lot of pitchers.
"There's more guys getting involved with it because they see other guys doing it and they see, 'OK it's not just one guy that benefits from it; it actually helps other guys, too,'" Delabar said. "So you start to see the program actually start to work with other guys, and other guys get the benefits as well."