Friday, January 27, 2012

Insight to what's Inside


As an athlete, there is nothing worse than having to watch your teammates compete without you. I’ve been in this position several times before.  In August 2007 while playing for the Colorado Rockies, I broke my fibula after being hit by a comebacker.  I was not able to recover in time and missed the 2007 playoffs and eventual World Series appearance.  In 2009 while pitching for the Scranton Yankees, I tore my plantar fascia tendon in my push off foot and missed the playoffs and our eventual championship appearance.  Finally in 2010 while playing for the same Yankees team, I missed the playoffs after tearing my rotator cuff and labrum in August.

All three of the instances I had been an effective pitcher during the regular season but was useless during the postseason due to injury.  I think there is no worse feeling for a competitor than that feeling useless when your teammates are giving their all on the field.  Sure you share in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat but  it’s just not the same.  In my heart of hearts all I wanted to do was be out there with my teammates and play but instead I was relegated to sitting in the dugout and cheering them on. 

I came to the ABL to prove to myself and MLB teams that I’m healthy and ready and willing to once again compete at the next level.  Having missed all the 2011 season rehabbing my shoulder, I was itching to face real competition again.  We as players work hard to maintain our bodies as they are our vehicles for success.  I for one, take this very seriously and dedicate many hours each day to preparing myself for the rigors of the game.  It took a few weeks to get my feet under me but I felt like I was off to a great start.  My arm was feeling amazing and my body was responding beautifully.  Unfortunately I can’t seem to shake the injury bug and sustained a few freak injuries that I had no control over; the last being a pinched nerve in my neck.  This is the one you could consider to be the straw that broke the camels back.  I was angry and dejected at the same time. When you work so hard to prepare yourself for a season, especially one following shoulder surgery and a year off from the game you love, it is frustrating to incur an injury to something that has never caused issue before. I felt like I was back on track and this freak injury late in the season sidelined me while my team was in a playoff hunt.  To compound my misery the season came down to the final game of the year, a game that I was scheduled to pitch in but was unable to.  The flood of emotions was strong that day because I really wanted to be out there and pitch my team into the playoffs.  I was heartbroken that I could not contribute.

I am trained as a professional athlete on how to deal with questions from the media and other public outlets.  You will never hear a player say, “I feel like crap” or “I’m depressed” because that shows weakness and can start some controversy.  It is also to maintain perspective of who we are as people and work through whatever is on our minds without outside influences.  True emotions, especially ones that bring us down are typically reserved for those closest to us, usually our wives, girlfriends, and sometimes even our athletic trainers.  (I have had some amazing ATC’s throughout my career) My wife, in our 9-year relationship, has heard everything under the sun, all the ups and downs and has shared in all my victories and defeats.   She is always ready with compassion when I’m down, and congratulations when I’m up, and a swift kick in the butt when I need it. These are things that the regular fan doesn’t get to see.

It is said that baseball is 10% physical and 90% mental. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve worked with a sports psychologist before.  He helped me through a tremendously tough time in my career in which I wanted to quit baseball because I never thought I would be healthy enough to compete at the level that I desired.  My time with him has been invaluable to me later in my career when dealing with other minor and major injuries.  Without getting into too much detail about our approach I will say that I remember back to what I learned from him and have applied those principles to my current situation. 

I will end this blog with a quote that I was given while playing in the Carolina league by my pitching coach Stan Borowski.  I had been going through a rough patch in my career, unsure of what my future held and one night on a bus trip he walked back to my seat and handed me a piece of paper with a quote on it that read:

"A wise man recognizes that although he cannot always control what happens to him, he can always control how he reacts to his failures. As long as he keeps his faith in God and in himself, nothing can permanently defeat him."
 
If you understand it as I understand it, you will understand why I continue to play baseball, continue to love the game, and continue to want to get better and get back to the big leagues.

(Special thanks to my wife Pam for helping write this one)

5 comments:

  1. Laurie (EMT at PNC)January 27, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Keep up that don't quit attitude , glad I got to know you and your family when you were here in Scranton! Best of luck in the future. It was nice being able to read about your progress , great idea with the blog! Tell Pam I said hello and I'm sure Brady is being the best big brother ! No stadium this year with renovations so it will be very boring here!

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  2. Jason, thank you for documenting your ABL experience. You have contributed to the game Down Under, and I'm sure your time here has provided you with plenty of great memories and experiences. I hope you have a super 2012 in the U.S.

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  3. As your neighbor and friend I know how hard you and Pam have worked to get you back to where you belong. This set back will only make you stronger. I know that you will continue to fight and achieve your dream of making it back to the BIGS. Thanks for the GREAT reads the last couple of months. See you soon, Suzanne, Riley, Casey, Chris and one to be named yet.

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  5. thank you for saving your ABL encounter. You have offered to the encounter Down Under, and I'm sure your time here has offered you with a lot of great remembrances and encounters.

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