Marcus Walden's semi-secret (and semi-painful) weapon

Rob Bradford
May 16, 2019 - 12:06 pm

Marcus Walden's success is becoming less and less of a secret.

The methods behind the man? Those might take a while to catch up on.

In case you haven't been paying attention to this Red Sox bullpen of late, understand that Walden has emerged as one of the season's most notable stories. In his 24 2/3 innings, he has allowed just four earned runs while striking out 30 and walking just one. Within this run, he has pitched two or more innings eight times.

And all along the way, he hasn't skipped a beat. For that he can at least partially thank a somewhat unorthodox treatment regimen he stumbled upon three years ago. It's called dry needling.

"I did dry needling for my shoulder in ’16. I got hurt in August with the Twins, ended up getting an MRI on my shoulder and there were no really big issues," Walden explained. "So I ended up going down to Florida and the trainer there did dry needling. Two weeks I was back throwing again. Now I get it done on my forearm because I’ve had nerve issues in my forearm since I came to the Red Sox in ’17."

So, what is it?

Why Walden has experimented with acupuncture he makes it clear this is not that. The needles are a bit longer, and the science behind it (targeting trigger points in muscles) is more defined by western medicine. The needles are inserted for five to seven minutes, while often times adjusted throughout the process. While former Red Sox trainer Adam Thomas was the team's previous go-to guy when it came to certification for the practice, the team now has multiple members of the training staff at the ready.

That said, this is not something which is embraced by all.

California, Utah, Idaho, New York and Hawaii are states which don't allow the practice, as Walden discovered while training at his offseason home on the West Coast.

"They told me in the offseason if I wanted to get it done I would have to go to Arizona," he said. "Guys ask if it hurts and it really doesn’t. It’s like a bee sting."

Other players have implemented the technique, joining Walden as using it as a complement to massage. But considering what it has done for the 29-year-old's career you aren't going to find a bigger proponent of the practice.

"I like it. It’s just another tool to use," he said. "I’ll have some knots in my arm, get dry needled and be good to go."

Related: Michael Chavis, the Red Sox' breath of fresh air

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