Major League Catcher Forgets How to Throw

Though the player may be perfectly aware that it's all in his head, at the moment of release, "the unconscious mind takes over and he twitches," said Lardon.

"You're no longer trying to make good throws," Llewellyn said. "You're trying to not make bad throws. All your energy gets to be spent on not making mistakes, so you can't allow yourself to just throw."

Both Llewellyn and Lardon believe getting the player out of his own head is needed to overcome the mental block.

Lardon would advise desensitizing Saltalamacchia to the troublesome throw by "generalizing the experience." That could be done by having the pitcher stand closer to the plate and then moving back gradually or by practicing throwing to the pitcher at different bases.

Llewellyn described the healing process as "getting the mud out of the water" -- meaning that the player needed to be taught how to clear his mind of all the outside stresses and worries that may be keeping him from tapping into the natural movements he used to have.

Neurology Meets Psychology

Though performance glitches often can arise out of nowhere, Saltalamacchia feels his problem stemmed from surgery he had late last season to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his right shoulder.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a rare problem that occurs when there is compression of the nerves in the neck. Symptoms include tingling or fatigue in the arms and sometimes pain, said Dr. Neal Chen, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Michigan.

Saltalamacchia told ESPN that he "rushed back" to playing, which is why he thinks his throwing is off.

"I knew not to do it, [but] I wanted to play," he said.

Now the pain is gone, but the mental block remains, at least in part. Though he had a good game Monday, Saltalamacchia told the Associated Press that he knows he still has a lot to prove before he can get back to the major leagues.

""As soon as I can prove that I can do that," he said, "I don't see any reason why I shouldn't be there."

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