Readying for Spring Training

After a season that I mostly missed due to two separate injuries, I’m getting myself ready for Ponce de Leon spring training. While the posted registration date is the 15th of December, Jr will likely be accepting more players for the next month or so, as long as it’s not a flood. If you haven’t signed up already, follow the link and sign up! New players pay only $995, while returning players pay $1,195. I noted some ‘fantasy camp’ comparisons last year, with prices four to five times as much, so this is a bargain. I personally don’t enjoy going to the gym without a goal in mind, so focusing my efforts year-round on playing baseball gets me out the door and exercising.

This year’s regular season was cut short in the second game when I managed to break my collarbone in two places. I was playing left field and there was a shallow hit ball, so I raced in to catch it. I slid down to get under it, but must have hit the ground shoulder first. It should go without saying that I caught the ball (mostly with my belly rather than my glove!) and tossed it to the cutoff man before standing up and noticing something wasn’t right. There was a slight protrusion in my left chest where no such entity existed on the right. Our shortstop, Dr Mark Tanenbaum,  is a cardiologist, so I walked to him and he checked the same way I did, agreeeing, “That ain’t right.” (He may have been less colloquial.) Though unable to raise my arm, I walked off the field and drove myself to the hospital.

The initial prognosis from the x-ray was that there was one break and the separation was only about 3mm. When the separation is greater than 20mm, they do surgery, so I was not expected to need that. Two weeks later, Dr Cary Schwartzbach had a look at a new x-ray, which clearly showed a small piece from in between the two parts of my collarbone and that small piece was dangling below the separation of the two. So, surgery was scheduled. The surgery went off without a hitch and I can highly recommend him. (He did also stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before… well, he joked that he had!)

The physical therapy went well and, if the insurance had been willing to pay, I’d have gladly kept going to work out twice a week indefinitely. However, I’d reached the recovery goals and any further gains would have to be at my own expense. So, I started hitting the batting cage. I managed to do that for a few weeks and got back onto the field for our fall scrimmages at Yorktown High School.

Then, a minor injury and stubbornness combined to take me off the field after two weeks again. I’ve had some minor issues with plantar fasciitis, and my heel was hurting while I ran. It made me change the way I was running, but I forced myself to run and to run in an approximation of ‘normal’ rather than favoring it. So, I went from an irritation to having a challenge walking off the field three hours later. The double that I legged out won’t get me into the Hall of Fame (not even a notional Ponce de Leon Hall), but it felt good for a little while. Unfortunately, that meant I lost a month on the field. I understand Ryan Zimmerman’s problem when he had it so much better!

The good news is that I’ve been back in the cage, seemingly none the worse for wear. I even had a business meeting at the batting cage. Some sales people take their clients golfing. David Franco, who’s our IBM contact and who’s playing baseball again due to my urgings, met me at the batting cage. We threw for a little while to warm up in the pitching lane at The Strike Zone. Then, I went back in the 85 mph lane to flail a little before I got my groove on. I’m hoping David’s on the field down in Florida for Ponce de Leon spring training and the good news is… no one there pitches 85 mph. We both did a few rounds in the 55 mph cage and, for this early, looked passable.

I need to do some running – getting to the point of 5k every day for a week – in order to be ready. I’d used a fitbit in some games a few years ago and one nine-inning game with me in the outfield and a few hits requires about 5 miles of running and walking. Last year, my legs were like lead by the end of the week. I’d like to avoid that this year. I think my hitting and my arm strength will be far better, but having the legs will be critical.

Remember, if you’re thinking about whether to sign up for spring training, DO IT! It’s the best investment in your health and best way to enjoy exercising. Softball was never exercise, but baseball most certainly is.

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