The eight-year veteran had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Aug. 5. He has since built up the arm strength and with that comes confidence while playing for Double-A Frisco in the Rangers' minor league system. He's more than nine months removed from the major surgery, and there are no limitations.
"I was nervous making throws," Hawpe said about the way he felt about seven or eight months after the surgery. "Late in the game, if we were up by one run or something, I would look at manager (Steve Buechele) and say, 'Hey, you know, if a guy is on third and one out and a fly ball to right, I may not be your guy just yet to be able to throw him out,' because in the past that was my calling card.
"That’s not a question for me anymore."
Hawpe was a guest last weekend on Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. He said there wasn't a specific moment when he felt he was over the mental and physical obstacles of elbow surgery. However, he credits his Frisco teammates for encouraging him to play long toss, which is something he used to do three days a week pre-surgery.
The 32-year-old has played in 893 minor league games, mostly with the Colorado Rockies organization, but he has also played for San Diego and Tampa Bay. Hawpe, a Metroplex resident, is a career .276 hitter with 124 home runs and 490 RBIs. Three of those home runs came as a pinch-hitter.
Getting back to his "calling card," Hawpe led the National League with 16 outfield assists in 2006 and was second the year before with 10.
While Hawpe is trying to get back to the big leagues, he has the pleasure of being a teammate of highly touted prospects who are looking to get to the majors for the first time. When I brought up Jurickson Profar, Hawpe delivered quite the scouting report.
"Most 19-year-olds are what, freshman in college? Most kids can't handle the level he's at and the attention he gets. That kid is going to be incredible," Hawpe said.
"I don’t know how else to put it. He’s going to be a star, in my opinion. Not just because of his talent. His talent is off the charts. His work ethic is good. His mindset is right. He’s a very positive kid, but what people may not know about him when they are looking at stats and trying to figure this and that out about him is he’s very intelligent. He’s a very, very, very smart kid. For a 19-year-old to carry himself and handle himself like he does, I mean I am thoroughly impressed by that kid."
Hawpe talked more about his health, the difference between his athletic ability before and after surgery, his relationship with the Rangers in spring training and thereafter, playing for and the importance of a manager like Buechele and the difference in minor league ball in present day compared to his rise to the big leagues.
He also talked about a major key to Rangers success. Listen to the podcast and find out what he thinks.
Bryan Dolgin is the host of Rangers Magazine as well as the host of the Rangers radio pre and post game shows on the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network & ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @RangersRadioBD