Blan­ton do­ing bet­ter

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - — Bryan Fla­herty and Chelsea Janes

For most of the first month and a half of the sea­son, Joe Blan­ton threw with pain. It wasn’t con­stant nor daily. Some­times lit­tle ad­just­ments helped, and he tried a lot of them. But the tweaks never stopped his shoul­der from both­er­ing him for long.

“It was chang­ing my arm there, chang­ing my arm there, try­ing to find a com­fort­able spot where I could com­pete and it wasn’t hurt­ing,” Blan­ton said. “But at the same time, af­ter do­ing that for so long, try­ing to find your arm slot is dif­fi­cult.”

Af­ter the Na­tion­als placed the 36-year-old on the dis­abled list last week, Blan­ton took a week off from throw­ing to let his shoul­der calm down. When he started again, his arm slot was “all over the place,” which is to be ex­pected given all the tin­ker­ing. By Fri­day, his fourth day of throw­ing af­ter that week-long hia­tus, things be­gan to feel nor­mal again, Blan­ton said.

“Hope­fully that [arm slot] be­comes more re­peat­able, you get stronger, then hope­fully it gets in the right spot and sort of clicks,” Blan­ton said.

Blan­ton said he does not feel too much of the weight of strug­gling right away on a new team. He hopes the Na­tion­als and his team­mates know his track record and un­der­stand that the first month of the sea­son qual­i­fies as an aber­ra­tion. The num­bers sup­port that con­clu­sion, as his bat­ting av­er­age on balls in play against (.368) and his home runto-fly­ball ra­tio (33.3 per­cent) are not only el­e­vated be­yond his ca­reer norms but far above league av­er­ages.

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