Injuries just another challenge for Cobra baseball

Adam Vilmin

Staff Writer

It’s the moment no baseball player wants to be in. They have been playing through pain, but the doctor says surgery and eight to 10 months of rehab. Their baseball season is over and instead of playing, their time will be spent stretching and waiting to throw again.

Reliever Conner Gremer found his first season setback a year after “feeling wrong last February.” After attempting to rehabilitate it during the spring, he found himself needing rotator cuff surgery.

“Hearing that you’re going to have surgery and your season is coming to an end, it’s totally just negative thoughts running through your mind,” Gremer said.

But injuries are a reality for many baseball athletes.

“We have guys that end up injured their first year and red shirting is always mentally tough,” said John Gobels, the Parkland pitching coach. “We try and spin that into a positive, where they are just delaying their start of their college career, and not losing a year of playing.”

Gremer and Goebels had a relationship from Goebels’ coaching in the junior leagues that Gremer played in, and both think that, along with Parkland’s more tight knit style of program, has made the process less worrisome.

“I think if I had been in a four year program, there might have been a bigger chance of getting let go by the team,” Gremer said.

“It’s good for us, especially with a guy like Gremer, in that there’s no question for me about knowing where he will be at [skill wise] when the rehab is over,” Goebels said. “There aren’t any questions about what point we’re trying to wait for them to get to when the process is over, or if it’s even possible.”

Dealing with injury or bad mechanics is an everyday concern for Goebels.

“When a guy is mechanically bad at the plate, he just doesn’t get hits. When a guy is throwing poorly, he can get badly injured,” Goebels said.

Being vigilant is the first defense the team has against injury.

“That’s why we’re tracking velocities out during their outings. When you have guys hitting 88-89 then all of sudden dropping to 81-82 and their arm slot is different, we have to notice the red flags. It’s not always an injury, but you know you need to be feeling it out and talking to the kid to find out if its something that just needs rest or if we should be having the doctor take a look,” Goebels said.

Goebels also has the role of guiding a rehabbing player through the healing process. Gremer, for instance, has just come back to the point that he’s beginning to throw his fastball off of the mound.

“It’s mostly just me and Goebels listening to my arm,” Gremer said. “If I was scheduled for a bullpen, throw it and feel good the next day, we might add in some light toss the next day. If it’s sore, we might skip the next scheduled work out.”

“They’ll come back and have very strict throwing regimens,” Goebels said. “The biggest thing I’ll tell these guys going through it, mentally you can’t think, ‘That was a good day, that was a bad day,’ You just have to do it.”

The mental aspect can be the most difficult aspect of the rehab process. It can be alienating and frustrating to be disconnected from the team for so long. Goebel said he will have the guys “dragging the field, mound maintenance, running the music or umpiring the fall games.”

“Anything to help keep them busy, since that’s a lot for a guy to go through,” he said.

Ultimately, once the injury is healed, the player can come out better for it.

“The biggest thing I noticed after the guys get hurt is they get a little more responsible for taking care of themselves. They can look at the big picture, because for them, that picture got a little smaller for a while. Its good to see that for their careers going forward and hopefully when they go on as adults,” said head coach Dave Garcia.