Bundy liked the latter option. Why?
"When I was drafted, my goal was to be in the major leagues before I was 20 years old," he says. "My birthday is in November, so I've got to get to work. I knew there was no way it could happen if they shut me down in August."
Bundy began the year with Class A Delmarva and didn't allow an earned run in 30 innings over eight starts. Hitters went 5 for 94 (.053) against him, including 0 for 39 at the start. Since being promoted to Frederick, a High A team, on May 23, Bundy is 4--3 with a 2.98 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. In 17 combined starts he has thrown 72 1/3 innings, leaving him about 53 more before his season reaches its preordained end.
Similarly, the Nationals have placed a cap of about 160 innings on Strasburg, who turns 24 in July. Strasburg threw only 44 1/3 innings last year after returning from Tommy John surgery. Strasburg has been Washington's best starter this season and leads the National League with 140 strikeouts, but he has already logged 110 1/3 innings. The Nationals will shut down a healthy, dominant pitcher during a pennant race in the name of preventive medicine.
"There is no experience like game experience," says Maddux. "I don't know why you would ever cap that, as long as your pitching is effective and your mechanics stay the same.
"But then, I'm not a doctor. Medicine's gotten better the last 30 years. It's more a part of the game, and teams have more money invested in players."
OWASSO IS THE OSAGE INDIAN word for "end of the trail." It was given to the Oklahoma town in 1900 because it sat near the turnaround for the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railway. Owasso is the beginning of the trail for Dylan and Bobby Bundy, who learned about baseball and hard work from their dad—sometimes in the most unconventional ways.
When Bobby was eight, for instance, he was having trouble catching the ball because he'd jump to the side when older boys threw his way.
"Bobby," Denver told him, "don't be afraid. I'm going to tie you to a tree."
They walked to a pecan tree in the backyard, Denver holding several lengths of rope. He tied Bobby's legs, torso and right arm to the tree. On the boy's free hand, his left, Denver slipped his baseball glove. First Denver would place the ball in the glove. Then he would move back a step and flip it in. One step at a time, he progressed to throwing overhand from 30 feet away. Bobby had no trouble catching.