Setback – Mark DeRosa
There are few things worse for a professional athlete than being on the disabled list. You’re kind of in no man’s land. You’re a part of the team but you’re not. My wrist has been such a frustrating injury. I don’t want to equate it to Tommy John surgery because it’s not on that level. But the guys I talk to who have had Tommy John surgery say they went through the same thing I’m going through now: One day you wake up and feel great. The next day you wake up and you’re in terrible pain. And you don’t know why. That’s what I’ve been battling. I can’t wait for the day when I’m not talking about this anymore.
In the meantime, when you can’t contribute on the field, you have to figure out how to still be a good teammate. I watch the game closely from the dugout. I watch how the pitcher is attacking our hitters. So when guys come back from the plate, I can help them dissect their at-bats, talk about what the pitcher was trying to do. A lot of guys – Sanchez, Huff, Rowand, Burrell, Buster – they love to talk hitting. So I can be a sounding board.
And I’ve always been pretty good at reading people, so I feel pretty comfortable about figuring out who needs to be kicked in the butt, who needs to be patted on the back, when to say something, when to bite my tongue. The guys encouraged me to do this last season. They kind of built me up and asked me to stay on top of them, to keep the bench going. So I took that seriously and contributed however I could.
But I hate not playing. To be honest with you, last year was the worst season of my career. You bust your tail your whole life to get to the big leagues and win a World Series and the one time you get there, you have completely nothing to do with it. It was a tough pill to swallow.
But I used last season as a chance to step back and see the game from an unselfish point of view. When you’re playing, you’re so wrapped up in your particular job — your four at-bats, your ground balls — you feel like if you put in four good ABs and catch everything hit to you, then you’ve done your job and that’s that. But when you’re not playing, you see the game from a much broader perspective. I realize now how hard Boch’s job is, how many different personalities he has to manage.
I’m hoping my time on the DL will get my wrist back to 100 percent. If I took away anything from last season, it’s an even deeper desire to be healthy and contributing on the field. The most important thing to me as a ball player is to help my team win. Nothing else matters.