As a lot as Jacksonville University alumnus Austin Hays wants to be the next Daniel Murphy, the best big-leaguer to return out of the Dolphins’ baseball program, he’s going to want some extra cooperation from his physique.
Hays is uninterested in spending as a lot time in a coaching room or in rehab as on the ballfield. No matter pleasure he obtained from a two-day homecoming to Jacksonville this week — enjoying for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides towards the Jumbo Shrimp to point out the Baltimore Orioles he’s totally recovered from one other hamstring damage — Hays is extra involved about ending a streak of medical setbacks that hold interrupting his MLB profession.
“All the things I did on the minor league degree, I’m assured I can do it within the large leagues,” Hays stated Thursday after returning to Baltimore from his rehab project. “I simply haven’t been in a position to put collectively a wholesome stretch.”
Since getting referred to as as much as the Orioles in September 2017, after simply 166 minor-league video games — the quickest participant to do it of anyone within the ’16 draft — Hays has been out and in of the lineup. He’s handled accidents to his ankle, rib (damaged), thumb (damaged), face (foul ball required 10 stitches), shoulder, and prior to now two months, gone on the injured checklist twice for every hamstring.
He minces no phrases in regards to the aggravation of constantly being in medical limbo.
“Each single day I get up [when sidelined by an injury], I’m annoyed. It’s laborious to go in regards to the rehab course of on daily basis. I attempt to depend on my spouse [Samantha] and household to maintain my head on straight and deal with recovering,” he stated.
The 25-year-old outfielder (he turns 26 on July 5) was particularly challenged in 2018 when Hays unknowingly performed 75 minor-league video games on an ankle that was by no means correctly healed. Docs couldn’t pinpoint the issue. The preliminary MRI confirmed two bone bruises and a cyst, so he was given a cortisone shot and tried to play by way of the nagging ache.
Ultimately, Hays had a bone graft completed they usually put a pair screws in his ankle as a result of the cartilage had deteriorated. However because the accidents mounted, Hays’ timing on the plate was typically thrown off, resulting in extra strikeouts. He has performed 164 minor-league video games since his preliminary promotion to Baltimore, almost matching his complete earlier than the call-up.
“Half of these [minor-league] video games I performed coming off an damage,” stated Hays, who had a solo dwelling run in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Jumbo Shrimp and went 0-for-5 on Wednesday. “So plenty of instances, you’re nonetheless in spring coaching mode, looking for a rhythm and get snug within the field. Subsequent factor , the season is over.
“I’ve performed plenty of video games damage in my profession. I’d like to put collectively a 160-game season and see the place it takes me. I’d say I’m wholesome now and able to put collectively the 100 video games left on this season.”
Hays is aware of each sport he spends ready to get better from an damage is one other day any individual else might doubtlessly take his job. The Orioles, a rebuilding group with the MLB’s second-worst report (22-39), are utilizing 5 or 6 totally different outfielders of their mid-20s, together with Bolles Faculty product DJ Stewart.
The one participant making inroads thus far this season is middle fielder Cedric Mullins, who leads the group with a .323 batting common and has performed each sport. Stewart reveals occasional energy with six dwelling runs in 135 at-bats, however hits solely .222.
Hays (.252, 5 HR, 15 RBI) was as soon as thought of probably the most promising future MLB outfielder within the group, particularly since he’s snug enjoying all three positions, however that’s now up for debate due to his missed enjoying time.
“The prospect standing has handed us and it’s time to present all people a shot within the large leagues and see who can compete at this degree,” stated Hays. “So long as I’m wholesome and on the sphere, I believe I can put collectively good numbers. It’s a matter of enjoying sufficient video games the place the numbers can look higher.”
Hays, whose spouse gave delivery to their son, Levi, in November, has a protracted solution to go to maintain tempo with Murphy, who missed 200-plus video games over his 12-year MLB profession with 4 totally different groups as a consequence of accidents. The distinction is the retired Murphy, a three-time All-Star, was sturdy lengthy sufficient to gather 1,572 hits and have become a family identify with the New York Mets and Washington Nationals.
Austin Hays has the potential to be a fixture in MLB for a decade or longer. However first, his physique has to cease betraying him.
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