Well, here it is. I’ve been on the Disabled List for 31 days so I have decided to start my own MLBlog. I figure that in this age of the Internet, 24-hour-a-day news channels and all of the other media outlets, people love their information.
So much of sports coverage is either just scores or big scandalous stories, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to give fans a look at the game from a player’s perspective.
Obviously we are going to talk a lot about baseball and things that happen in the game, but we’re also going to talk about some of the things that happen off the field. I’m hoping to give fans some insight into what our lives are like. Even my family, the things they envision my life to be — that’s not it. It’s funny that even the people close to you don’t understand what it is like to be a Major League Baseball player — all the good things, all the bad things and even the interesting things. Hopefully we’ll shed some light on subjects like that.
Nice to be throwing again
First of all, as you probably already know, I’ve been on the Disabled List since May 9 with inflammation in my left elbow. That has made it a tough year so far. Hopefully I’ll get back soon and perform well with the team. Obviously my struggles from last season were well-documented. It was just a bad year. It happens from time to time. If not for a pretty good turnaround in the second half, it would have been one of the all-time worst.
After last year I was looking forward to putting that season to rest — not only to help my teammates win games, but for the fans, who had to sit through that debacle of a season.
Then, to have such a good Spring Training and be on the right path with all of the changes that Guy Hansen and I worked on, and then to come up with this injury (I say "come up with" loosely, because I had the injury the entire second half of last year), is a disappointment to say the least. Coming into Spring Training, it was just a matter of how long this elbow was going to hold up.
Fortunately we got an MRI done on it and obviously our team doctor Dr. Joyce, (athletic trainers) Nick Swartz and Frank Kyte, then Dr. Yocum, looked at it. Structurally it’s very sound, but it just shows the wear and tear of a 33-year old pitcher who has thrown a lot of innings. There was quite a bit of inflammation in there, so it’s taken longer than I would like. But at the same time, I know that that it was prohibitive going out there during my first 5 or 6 starts. I just couldn’t keep doing that. I’ve been throwing at little over a week now, which makes you feel like you’re working towards getting back and being competitive again.
On to more exciting things…
We just finished our first winning road trip since September of 2003, going 4-2 after winning series at San Francisco and Arizona. This has been a trip I’ve been looking forward to all year, for the simple fact of going back to Arizona.
At this point, half of my career has been spent in the desert (insert your own joke here), so I was looking forward to getting back there and hopefully getting a chance to pitch. At the same time, the first half of the trip was going back to San Francisco, which was one of my favorite cities to travel to because of the great rivalry we had with the Giants. So that trip has been circled on the calendar for a long time.
Unfortunately, being on the DL I wasn’t able to pitch at either place. At least I got to make the trip since I’m starting to throw again. It was huge to go out there and see a lot of friends, former teammates and a people I spent a lot of time with during my career in Arizona.
But the best part of the trip was the way we played. We really took it San Francisco after winning the first night and then came back and won game three to win the series. We were able to bounce back from a rough first night at Arizona against a team that is expected to contend and possibly win that division. Even though we lost, that was one of the best comebacks that I’ve ever been privy to actually sit through and watch. To be down, 11-2, that’s an easy game to kind of put on cruise control. You just don’t come back from nine runs down when you’re past the midway point of a game in the Major Leagues.
But we took it to them the next couple of games. Boy, Sunday was a barnburner. We scored one and they tied it. We scored another run. They tied it again. And finally, we’re like, "Fine, we’ll score six and put it clearly out of reach." To come out of the game with a win was huge. That just doesn’t happen. Anytime you have a getaway day that lasts that long — 12 innings, one of the longest games we’ve played in a long time — you want to win that. It makes the flight home a lot easier.
Back with Buddy
To see us scrap like we did on that West Coast trip shows a lot of what Buddy Bell has brought to this team since taking over recently as our manager. He’s such a great fit for this team. I’ve said that all along, just because of the past I’ve had with him. It’s not like he’s come in here and changed anything. It’s not like he’s come in here and said, "Here’s how things are going to be" and set a bunch of rules. It’s just that his reputation has preceded him.
The biggest thing is the fact that he’s made everybody on this team aware that the veterans have their power back.
There’s actually going to be somebody that’s going back us and restore that power. Combine all that with the fact it’s a new manager that not a lot of our guys know a lot about, especially our young players, and we can play the kind of baseball we’ve played.
So everybody’s concentration level is up, everybody is trying to impress the new boss. You saw that in that Friday comeback — that "never say die" attitude. I know we fell short and it hurt, but we came back out the next night like it was no big deal.
The great thing about having Buddy as a manager is my ability to help the club even though I’m on the D.L. I know that I was brought here obviously to pitch and win. That’s number one why you bring a player in. But at the same time, I know they expect a lot more of me off the field with the younger players and pitchers. I need to be a good example and try to impart some wisdom on them and talk about things because I’ve been fortunate to play this game a long time and see a lot of different things, experience a lot of different things.
I’ve experienced the most excruciating things, personally and professionally. I’ve been on the expansion team with Arizona and what I went through personally last year. But I’ve also had really good years, like the year I was traded here in 2003 and being on a team that went to the World Series and won a championship and being on a team that lost the World Series.
There’s been a lot I’ve been able to see and I try to help out wherever I can. I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to beat your door down. That’s not my style. But my door is always open and if things come up, we talk and bounce things off each other. We’ve got a great group of young kids that want to be led, you can see that from the way they’ve responded to Buddy. They want structure. They want to know what they can and can’t get away with.
To be able to help out in that arena, I’ve taken a lot of pride in that the last month. Because that’s the only thing I’ve been able to contribute to the team, outside of going out and power shagging, which I love to do because it keeps you in shape and makes you feel like you’re still a regular player (except I can’t hit).
I’m really looking forward to getting back on the field. First of all, it’s what I do, it’s what I love. Second of all, this, Man, this team I tell you has really turned the corner in terms of our approach. We know the wins and losses will still be hard to come by at this level, because no games are easy. But our approach is easy and that’s what is making it fun to come to the park every day.
Make sure you check back in a few days. We’ve got a lot of great topics coming your way like power shagging and how to kill an off-day on the road.