Antoan Richarson: Outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates talks about recovering from back and foot injuries in a lost season with the Texas Rangers last year.
When I signed with the Rangers I anticipated it would be the first time that I had a shot at making a team out of spring training. However the spinal disk touching a nerve in my back and, truthfully, the fact that I didn’t play up to par the beginning part of spring out a damper on that.
I first hurt my back doing some agility testing in spring training and it kinda went south from there. The team sent me to Dallas to have surgery from Dr. Drew Dossett, the same surgeon who performed Tony Romo’s spinal operation. A lot of patience was required with the rehab on my back simply because there wasn’t much for me to do initially but let it heal. It was about a 3-4 month recovery period with nothing but lots of core strengthening.
The foot injury I sustained getting hit by a pitch in a rehab start in AAA was really disappointing because you really never feel apart of the team if haven’t gotten your hands dirty with them. I was looking forward to getting back between the lines and being a part of a team but my foot prevented me from doing so. My foot injury also had me a little nervous because being a table setter expected to beat bunts out and steal bases my legs and feet are my biggest physical assets.
After surgery I was in a big old boot which allowed me to start working out about 2 week after my operation. I had a team of physical therapy guys down in West Palm Beach, that kept me on task as far as my rehab went. I was limited in what I could do but did a lot of things with one leg and got after it as best I could.
I signed with the The Pirates because they have been one of the top 3 teams on baseball the last couple of years and they looked like they had a lot of fun playing the game. It was intriguing to see what their culture was about, and how I could fit into it.
The other Pirates’ players have been supportive teammates but not playing in the games I sometimes feel like I’m not doing my part but as I get going and get some games under my belt I’ll feel better.
I have been able to get my feet wet in a few Minor League spring training games which are more controlled. For example, managers can decide hitting lineups by inning if they want. This allowed me to get my rhythm back
I hit a triple in my first game back. It was good to come out the gate a get a hit after such a long layoff and not really playing for a full year. So just trying to get my reps and play at a high level to put myself in a position to help the team win some games.
My showdown with switch-pitcher Pat Venditte was a great moment for the fans. I know Venditte, we played together in 2014, he’s a great guy but I think the fans got a kick out of it and that’s why we’re here: to entertain.
My goal on the field for this season is to stay healthy, I have so much trust in the work that I put in that I’m not worried about results. Off the field I just want to continue to give back when I can and get involved as much as can in the community and help some young men and women reach their goals.