For most of us, we can stretch the reality of our occupations enough to relate to professional baseball players. Our nine to five jobs might not be as glamourous as the work that the athletes on our favourite team do on a day to day basis, but we often extend metaphors to find similarities between the two, and perhaps discover a little bit of inspiration for our own daily grind.
However, it’s difficult to relate to injuries. Can you imagine being at the top of your field, or in the middle of being fast tracked to an executive position, only to have something outside of your control cause you to stop that development? It’s hard to grasp the levels of frustration that must stir up.
Last night, we saw the very different returns of two pitchers who have suffered injuries. While one pitcher is expected to carry on with his promising career after briefly being sidetracked, the other caused more celebration for his appearance on a big league mound again rather than the performance he put forth from there.
After more than a year of recovery and rehab stints at several of the Washington Nationals’ Minor League affiliates, dominant phenom Stephen Strasburg made his first Major League start since August 21, 2010 last night. The 23 year old right hander held the Los Angeles Dodgers to just two hits over five scoreless innings, throwing 40 of his 56 pitches for strikes while striking out four and walking none.
His fastball peaked at 99 miles per hour, and his off speed and breaking pitches had just as much movement as before his injury last season. His first time back on the mound in the Majors was a resounding success.
North of the border, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan’s return to action wasn’t quite as smooth of a transition. After two shoulder surgeries, a knee surgery and more rehabbing than a former teen idol, McGowan walked out to the mound at Rogers Centre in the fifth inning of an 11-0 rout by the Boston Red Sox for the first time in more than three years.
When asked whether or not he remembered the last batter he faced in the Majors, McGowan gave a frank and honest reply.
I just remember my arm hurting. I blocked that out of my mind a long time ago.
Over four innings of work, McGowan threw 74 pitches to twenty batters, giving up five hits and three walks that turned into three earned runs. His four seam fastball got close to 96 miles per hour and induced five swinging strikes that helped him on his way to collecting five strikeouts.
It wasn’t the stuff of Strasburg, but for a pitcher that hasn’t thrown from a big league mound since July 8, 2008, it will do just fine.
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