The Pelicans welcome their first new starting pitcher tonight in Carolina. For the first two months of the season the Birds had used the same five pitchers to start every game, save Joe Van Meter and Randol Rojas – who made spot starts in the backend of doubleheaders. Well, with Roman Mendez heading to the disabled list, Randy Henry has been tabbed to start in his place. Believe it or not, this will actually be Henry’s first start in five years…since he was in High School at Arnett High School in Oklahoma.
Here’s the back story: Henry was a Texas Tech recruit coming out of high school, but required Tommy John surgery.
“In high school it definitely scared me,” Henry said. “I’m from a small town and I hadn’t really heard that much about [Tommy John]. I thought that it was going to stop me from pitching and I heard I might now be able to pitch again and I could probably play a position.”
With the injury occurring about a month before the signing date, Henry said most of his major college interest fell of the table and he headed to Junior College at South Mountain CC in Arizona.
“When I went to college it was close to 14 months [since the injury],” Henry said. “I hadn’t even been on the mound because I didn’t want to push it…It feels pretty much like you’ve never thrown before. I starting throwing at four months and started playing second and shortstop about a month after that.”
At South Mountain Henry was mostly an infielder, batting .349 with 36 RBI, the third best total on the Cougars. In fact, Henry threw only 11 outings and 12.2 innings in junior college, albeit allowing just one earned run the whole time.
But Henry was good enough to catch the eyes of the Baltimore Orioles, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He began in Short-Aberdeen and finished in Low-A Delmarva, getting hit to the tune of a 5.64 South Atlantic League ERA.
The 2011 season presented a different Henry, however. Last year the righty had a 1.67 ERA in Delmarva and moved up to Frederick, where he finished the season on the Mills Cup Championship team. The Rangers acquired him in a trade for Taylor Teagarden this past offseason.
Henry made the Pelicans out of Spring Training and assumed the primary closer’s role as the season progressed. The thing is he was stretched out in Spring Training to be a starting pitcher, and he’s now getting that chance.
“I can definitely be a starting pitcher,” Henry said. “I was a starting pitcher in high school and then I had surgery so it kind of limited my innings. I think I can be a starting pitcher. It’s just all about the preperation of getting ready for it.”
As for what changes when he starts tonight….
“I’ll definitely probably work off my normal fastball more compared to the cutter like I have been, Henry said. “I’m going to try not to change it up too much.”
That includes his ERA, which sits at a team best 0.35 on the season.
“That’s something I don’t really wanna talk about,” Henry said.
But it’s success that’s giving everybody else something to talk about for sure.