How're you feeling?
It’s a question asked frequently all year in baseball. But in the AFL (and in winter ball, too), there are always a fair share of players attempting to come back from injuries, playing after the regular season to make up lost at-bats or innings. I figured it was time to take a look on how these comeback candidates were doing.
The list is almost endless when you consider anyone who missed a considerable amount of time this season due to injury and is trying to catch up with some extra play in Arizona. By no means complete, here is a list of players (a lot of pitchers) who went to the AFL to make up for lost time: Larry Broadway, 1B, Nationals; Taylor Buchholz, RHP, Astros; Angel Guzman, RHP, Cubs; Luke Hudson, RHP, Reds; Michael Johnson, 1B, Padres; Adam Miller, RHP, Indians; Greg Miller, LHP, Dodgers (already shut down because of shoulder problems, though he was examined and found to be ok); Clint Nageotte, RHP, Mariners; Humberto Sanchez, RHP, Tigers.
I’m sure I’m missing some people, so don’t be shy about letting me know who — the more comments the better. At any rate, using the above list as my guide, here’s my AFL comeback kid Top 5:
Clint Nageotte: He missed two and a half months with a forearm strain and then did the yo-yo thing between Tacoma and Seattle a bit as a reliever. He’s been getting a shot to start again in the AFL, with terrific results: A 2.25 ERA in 12 IP with only one walk and 12 K’s. He may only be starting to get more innings in, but at least he’s putting himself back into the M’s plans next year.
Humberto Sanchez: Sanchez might be mentioned along with the other young flame-throwers in the Tigers system — Verlander and Zumaya — if he could stay healthy. He didn’t make his debut until June 5 because of a groin injury and the 22-year-old put up uneven numbers in 64 2/3 IP. But he still struck out more than a batter an inning. Thus far in the AFL, the Solar Sox hurler has a 2.77 ERA in three outings, striking out 15 in 13 IP.
Taylor Buchholz: The Astros right-hander managed to throw just 76 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year while dealing with shoulder issues. This fall, he’s got a 1.80 ERA in 10 IP.
Larry Broadway: A knee injury kept Broadway out of action from mid-May until July. Looks like his swing is just fine. He was ninth in the AFL as of Tuesday with his .368 average and was third with a .490 OBP (his .553 SLG ain’t too shabby, either).
Michael Johnson: Once upon a time, Johnson was a big prospect. A 2002 second-rounder who went back to college but signed before re-entering, he’s stalled out largely because of injuries. Last year, he was a big disappointment and got into only 90 games due to several maladies. This year, the now 25-year-old was back in the California League for a third year, but played in only 73 games because of a broken hand (at least he finally hit well in the league with 21 homers in 288 at-bats). This fall, he was kind of average (.269 AVG, 1 HR, 7 RBIs in 14 games) until he unleashed the kind of raw power on Tuesday the Padres saw when they drafted him: Johnson homered three times and drove in five runs in Game 1 of the Javelinas’ doubleheader.
I promise an update on the league-wide stats and perhaps something on those red-hot Javelinas tomorrow…