Home Stretch

     When something takes a year to accomplish or to overcome, it can be discouraging. When you are a professional baseball player, a year is a long time. Missing almost an entire season the previous year, and two months of the current season is not something that you want to happen. You show up to the complex in Arizona every day, doing shoulder exercises, working out, maybe playing catch. Then, you graduate to bullpens, live batting practices, and eventually game action. All the while, your teammates and friends are out at affiliates playing. They are doing the single thing you’ve wished you could do for a year now. It can be quite discouraging if you let it. It can be painful to watch toward the beginning of shoulder rehab, knowing that you still have a long way to go. That is all going to change for me very soon. So long as there are no major setbacks in my progress, I’ll be toeing the rubber in a real game within weeks!

     Tomorrow morning is my first bullpen in a few weeks. I had a minor setback a few weeks ago involving my shoulder. Typical soreness and tenderness post surgery. There is a much greater force involved in throwing a baseball from an elevated slab of dirt in the middle of a baseball field than there is just playing catch in the outfield. So naturally, the shoulder will need time to adjust. I hope that my period of adjusting is over and that my shoulder is ready to go. I’ll throw three bullpens this week. So long as everything goes well next week, the following week will include longer bullpen sessions that simulate innings. I’ll throw 25 pitches, sit down for 5 minutes, and throw 25 more pitches. In my opinion, simulating innings is a key part of shoulder rehab. Since I started throwing it’s been a timed session with no breaks. This is to build arm strength. However, pitching in games is different. It’s firing the shoulder for 15-25 pitches, letting it rest, and then firing it up again. That’s a whole new ball game for my arm. I believe that if my arm can withstand the force of 50 pitches and withstand the inning simulations, the medical staff could clear me for game action.
     I titled this entry “Home Stretch” because that’s the phase of rehabilitation i’m entering tomorrow. I’m starting to get real exciting about the coming weeks. I’ve said this many times before, but this past year has been one of the toughest years of my life. It’s had many discouraging moments. It’s tested my faith. It’s definitely tested my love for the game. When I toe that rubber in a real game for the first time, all of the negative events of the past year will fly out the window. All of the sleepless nights, long days, hard work, blood, sweat, and tears will be forgotten. It will be a moment that i’ll never forget. As i’ve said before, I am going to cherish each and every moment that I’m on that field from now on. Putting on a professional uniform is a privilege, and one that will not be taken for granted. In hard times, it’s easy to question why you’re putting yourself through this. Is it worth it? Am I getting anywhere? I asked those same questions. Being so close to attaining what I thought might be impossible is one of the greatest feelings in the world. The next few weeks are critical. The next few weeks are extremely tough. However, the next few weeks are going to lead up to the great accomplishment I’ve had in professional baseball. Overcoming something that some people said I may never overcome. 
     I have to thank you, my readers, for the encouragement and support. For those of you that follow me on Twitter, your constant kind words or encouragement do not go unnoticed. I appreciate every single one of you that take time out of your day to write me and make sure that all is well. To my friends, thank you all for being there for me. You have been there for me since before baseball was my profession. I sincerely appreciate that you always have my back. To my family, thank you for your tireless dedication to my success. My in-laws DO NOT miss a chance to support me. They listen to each game, send encouraging text-messages, and visit whenever they can. My parents and little brother have sacrificed so many minutes, days, weeks, months, and even years to make sure I had the best opportunity to succeed in baseball. Baseball took over summers that should’ve been spent vacationing, winters that probably should have been spent indoors, but instead were spent outdoors taking ground balls, pop-ups, and playing catch. Also, a huge thank you to my wonderful wife. She has sacrificed so much to support me these last few years. Having her with me throughout each season is amazing. But, the most amazing thing about her is that even when times have been tough she has stood by my side. This past year has been tough one me. But, I’m not the only one it’s affected. Each and every day that I’ve been rehabbing she has been by my side when I returned home. She is there when I’m discouraged, there when I’ve had a daily victory, there when I threw my first post-surgery throw. The good and the bad, the positive and the negative. She is with me and has my back through it all! Without her positive and uplifting attitude, I’m not sure that I could’ve made it this far. Last, I want to thank God. Thank You for giving me life. Thank You for putting people in my life to help me achieve success. Thank You for putting drive, heart, determination, and the will to succeed into my being. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to play the most wonderful game in the world. I owe it all to You.  Each and every person in my life has played some kind of role in helping me get where I am. For that, I am so thankful. I found a quote yesterday that really struck a chord with me. I’m going to end this entry with that quote. Thank you all for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! 


“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become, the hours of practice, the coaches who push you, and the fans who cheer for you, is the boy who fell in love with the sport and never looked back. Play for him.”


  1. pedroia015

    Michael, the effort you are putting into coming back strong from this surgery and the positive attitude you have while doing so is absolutely inspiring to me. I can’t imagine the stress that an injury of that nature can bring on a player, especially a pitcher. For you to continue pushing on and not letting your dream of playing in the Bigs get away from you is awesome and I can’t wait to see you make it to the show.

    To take the time out of the rehab process to blog your progress and actually thank those around you definitely puts you at the top of my list for class act ball players.

    Best of luck, and when you’re up with Texas, we’ll be here in Tampa with a big Schlact sign for ya.

  2. echo45

    I’ve been following on Twitter through all the ups/downs, shin kicks and girl scout cookies! Really like the blog too. So happy you are making great progress, and working toward your dreams coming true. Inspirational! Especially love your appreciation and thankfulness that is so rare. Don’t stop.

  3. gotulo2

    You are truly an inspiration and a class act. It’s nice to see you, a pro ballplayer, take a little bit of time to thank the people that have helped you through a difficult situation. I’m glad you’re progressing and I hope everything stays on track so that you’ll be out there doing what you love as soon as possible! Keep up the hard work!

    🙂 Kirsten

  4. stroggs

    I really hope you make it, Michael. But whether you do or not, you have a special talent that you mustn’t let go to waste. Writing.

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