After taking the 2013 season off to rest a tired shoulder, two-time All-Star Brad Penny is looking to pitch in the majors again next season.
"I just needed a year off to get my body back," Penny said in a phone interview last week. "I can't remember when I've had any time to recover other than the offseason. It wasn't anything serious, just my shoulder was tired. It's the only way that I was going to get to be better and play at the level that I want to play at, because it's not fun not being 100% out there."
Penny, who turns 36 in May, says that a couple of teams have shown preliminary interest in seeing him throw, and that he expects to hold a showcase for teams in December or early January.
"I haven't talked to many teams. A couple have told me that they want to see me throw," Penny said. "If I throw for a team and I feel good enough, then who knows. I think if I get an opportunity to pitch in spring training, healthier, I'm pretty confident that I can make a team."
Since physical issues were the main cause of his struggles two years ago, Penny has dedicated himself to getting into better condition and says that he has lifted more than he ever has throughout his career..
"I just took the time and started working out in September with [trainer] Joe Potts" Penny said. "I've been just getting my strength up and working, I've been throwing bullpens lately. I feel a lot better. I'm not where I need to be yet, but there's no pain, so I feel so much better than I've ever felt in the offseason. I've always had that feeling that I may not be able to make it through 162 games. I've never really lifted like I have been this offseason either. I'm doing heavy weights, just building my strength up, and going from there and trying to maintain it the whole year."
"I'm not throwing full-out yet. I'm throwing pain-free off the mound, and my body feels good and strong, but I couldn't tell you I could go out and get a lineup out right now," Penny said.
In 22 bullpen appearances with the Giants in 2012, Penny was 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA in 28 innings of work. He says that his shoulder issues throughout the season made the decision to take 2013 off an easy one.
"I kind of knew last year [that a year off in 2013 was likely]. All year I battled...feeling good and not feeling good, I just don't think it's fair to a team for me to go out there and be like I was last year," Penny said.
In his year off, Penny got married to Kaci Cook, and the couple is now expecting a child. The two-time World Series champion notes that his love of competition played a major role in his decision to try a comeback.
"I hate to lose, and it's hard for me to sleep if I lose," Penny said. "If I'm not where I need to be, then I just won't play. That year off has helped me tremendously. I'm excited to see what I can get out of my body at this point."