All he needed to do was warm up on the bike, do some arm circles with the light dumbbells and then go through some shoulder exercises with the bands. Might sound simple to some, but add an injured shoulder into the mix, and it’s a completely different story. Some days were hard; some days were easy — but no matter what his mind or body told him, he had to remember one thing: the field was waiting.
About six days a week for an entire year, UCI pitcher Evan Brock went to the training room to go through these motions. He needed to recover from a posterior labral tear in his shoulder. These rehab exercises were the only way he would be able to heal and eventually get back to pitching the way he had before his shoulder surgery.
The pain began during Brock’s senior year in high school, when shoulder discomfort cost him his season. His freshman year went by without any complications until the pain came back during the summer. After another check-up and an MRI, the damage was revealed, and Brock underwent surgery in August 2011.
The operation kept Brock out of the game for a year, but even when he wasn’t out on the field, he was working hard in the training room each day.
“There were some times I just wanted to stop because I was just so frustrated with myself,” Brock said.
“There were times when I thought about not going to the training room and doing the rehab because sometimes the pain was so bad in my shoulder.”
His surgeon told him that there was only a 60/40 percent chance that he would return back to his pre-operative state, but Brock kept working.
With strong internal encouragement and support from his trainers, close friends on the team and his pitching coach, Brock made it back to the field for the 2012 season.
“There’s just something about putting on that uniform and stepping out on the field … it’s an escape from everything else.”
It was a good feeling for Brock, being able to return back to the sport that means so much to him. Brock has been a pitcher since age seven, so a year off was strange to say the least.
Brock says that he is about 95 percent back to how he used to be. This season, he had the third-best earned run average on the team — 3.20 and went 2-2 in 39.1 innings, throwing as a spot starter and a reliever for the Anteaters.
“I see a lot of people who get hurt, and they are tentative on what they do because they don’t want to hurt themselves again. I can tell that they’re not really over that from a mental standpoint. So I feel like I’ve kind of beaten that — I’m not afraid to go out there and throw as hard as I can,” Brock said.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, from a mental standpoint — not so much physically … the physical part is hard, but the mental part has made me stronger. I can deal with a lot more knowing that I’ve overcome this.”