Darren's Diary: Fighter planes and bruises
March, 26, 2010
By Darren O'Day | ESPNDallas.com
Editor's Note: Reliever Darren O'Day does a weekly blog for ESPNDallas.com. Here are his thoughts from the past couple of days, which included dealing with an injury (bone bruise) and flying in a simulator at a local Air Force base (as told to Richard Durrett).
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The last time I pitched, I felt great out there on the mound. The next time I went to throw, it was sore. I thought it might be a one day thing and I came back the next day and it was more sore. So we shut it down and treated it for awhile. I looked at the scheduled and panicked a little bit, saw how close we were to the season and said, 'We've got to get an MRI and figure out how this is and figure out what's going on.' So we did and it's a bone bruise consistent with hyperextension. I could have done it working on a new pitch or something. I was working on a changeup and a couple of things.
I'm on the right track and getting better. It doesn't take me long to find my command, so a couple of outings and I should be ready. I was relieved that it wasn't something major. It's tough for your profession to be based on your health. There are a lot of people that say, 'Wow, that job is awesome.' But I talked to a guy that was in a cab accident in New York, separated his shoulder and was never the same pitcher. That changed his job for the rest of his life. You think of a guy who is an accountant that gets in that accident and he can come back and do his job. It's scary for sure to have this happen in the elbow. It was a load off my mine that it was just a bone bruise and that it will heal.
Some guys over at the Air Force base come over and shag balls for us and really enjoy it. I spoke to a couple of F-16 mechanics. They think it's the coolest thing in the world to come over here and shag for major league hitters, while the pitchers think it's the worst part of our job. On our off day, they invited us to come over.
They let us sit in a F-16 simulator. It was myself, Mike Maddux and a bunch of our clubhouse workers. I was the only player. I grew up in Jacksonville where there are a lot of Navy bases and I have friends that were in the Navy, so I enjoy being around those in the Armed Forces. They let us jump in there and dogfight each other and completely embarass ourselves and then let us watch some jets take off up close, which was really cool.
I was the first one to do the simulator. I was the guinea pig. It is much harder than it looks. You would think it's just a video game that you can play, but it's very involved. There are so many controls. They have to be the ultimate multi-taskers to do that job. We were just in a simulator and nothing is going to happen to me. But when Mason, one of the clubbies, had me in missile lock, I panicked. I was diving, I was yanking it left. Your blood pressure rises. It was even more nerve-racking trying to get him on missile lock. He's dancing all over the place and you get close and you get overexcited and you can't control it anymore. It's so frustrating. But it was an awesome experience to see how talented those guys really are.
I get back here and we're busy getting ready to leave here next week. It's tough because there are a lot of guys who don't even know where they're going. That's an aspect of baseball that people don't see. It's hard to not know where you're going to be in a week. You can't get a house or plan ahead. This is the first time that hasn't been me. It's the first time I know where I'm going. It's awesome. It's mainly due to my success last year. I'm very appreciative of the year I had and all the help guys gave me to get there. Last year when I was with the Mets, I didn't know if I would be with them or with the Angels because I was a Rule 5. It's one of the harder parts that people don't hear about.
Everybody packs and whether your box makes on the truck only the clubbies know. They know everything. That's how I found out I made the team in 2008 was from the clubbies. So I need to make sure my stuff gets on the truck.