The crowds screamed and teammates yelled encouragements, but during the playoff game last year, what Ryan Schmitten remembers is this: the popping of his elbow after a pitch and the pain that followed.
“I was throwing pretty hard and after one pitch it just popped,” Schmitten said.
After an MRI one month later, he discovered he had three tears in his arm ligament. After a few months of rehab without any progress, he took the next step.
In October, he had surgery on his right elbow and is expected to have a recovery time of about one year.
“I won’t be ready to throw on a mound in a game until late August,” Schmitten said.
Until then, Schmitten is focusing on improving in ways other than playing in actual games. He has adjusted his diet to 5,000 calories each day to gain weight for college baseball.
He’s also in rehab to regain his arm strength, and he has started light throwing that will slowly progress in distance and effort.
Despite the injury, he’s still an active part of the team and attends practices and games regularly.
“By watching them I can see what I can do better and how I can improve myself,” he said.
In the summer, he has a spot with the Seattle Studs in the NBC World Series. He is hoping to be able to play by then, although it is likely he will be out until August.
A few colleges have started contact to recruit him to play baseball, including the University of Connecticut and Seattle University. Currently, he wishes to attend the University of Connecticut due to its high academic standards and well-established team.
Playing with the Seattle team in the summer and possibly at a university will help him be noticed by scouts.
He has been in contact briefly with a New York Giant scout, and he hopes to someday play for a Major League Baseball team. He has been watching spring training and believes he will be up to the challenge after college.
For now, Schmitten is motivated to dedicate time to academics.
“(This injury) made me realize baseball isn’t forever and I need to make something of my life now to do something better for my future,” Schmitten said.
He intends to major in sports science and pursue a career in sports management. His father has been a coach for about 38 years and has passed his love of baseball on to his son. In his youth, Schmitten frequently helped and traveled with his father’s teams.
“Baseball is a way of life in my family,” he said. ”I grew up with it being really important. My dad has been the greatest impact on my life, and he passed it all down to me. I really want to be a coach someday. I am just a fan of baseball.”
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