The Leg That Launched A Thousand Pitches

Former Yankees hurler Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who has one of the most distinct wind-up/deliveries in baseball today, will have to drastically alter his wind-up for medical reasons. According to the New York Post:

Hernandez has multiple problems with his right foot, notably a bunion issue that causes significant pain on his instep near his big toe. When he brings his right knee toward his face in his standard delivery, Hernandez is forced to take his heel off the ground, which places greater strain on the instep and toe areas. So Hernandez needs to modify his delivery to allow him to keep his heel flat as a way to alleviate pain.

Watching him pitch for the Yankees from 1998-2001 and again in aught-four, I always thought he’d develop hip issues from his delivery. But this is a real shame. It seems like today, 90% of pitchers have the same kind of wind-up/delivery. Hernandez wasn’t a power pitcher, and helped use his delivery to deceive opposing batters, something that helps when the eephus is in your repertiore.

Back in ’98, Hernandez was a sort of folk hero for the Yankees. Escaping from Cuba (regardless of the details of the story), this guy with a different delivery helped the Yankees win championships. His delivery was the even the subject of a commercial (the true stars of which are King Tom favorites David Cone and Luis Sojo):

Actually, there were quite a few of these commercials for the Yankees that summer. Possibly the most awesome of which starred George Steinbrenner (who chose not to use a body-double):

Body Suit Man must have had the day off.

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