|Roman Quinn, Image- Jay Floyd|
Following recovery from a broken left wrist he suffered in mid-season when he was hit by a pitch, the Phillies shortstop prospect experienced the second considerable physical setback of 2013 when he ruptured his right Achilles tendon while running sprints during routine workouts earlier this off-season. After the second considerable blow to his health, Quinn found himself with a feeling of defeat and went through a period of seclusion.
The 20-year-old was the Phils' second round draft choice in 2011 and was the among the organization's top prospect, according to many outlets, heading into last season.
Surgery to repair the Achilles was completed nearly three months ago and Quinn is already ahead of schedule.
Praised for his fleet-footed efforts in beating out grounders for hits, swiping bags with ease and taking extra bases where others couldn't, Quinn doesn't feel as though his recent injury will impact the key weapon of his game, his speed.
"No worries at all. I did my research and all I gotta do is train hard and next year, I'll be back stronger," Quinn said in his first interview since undergoing surgery.
Initially, though, the realization that he'd be out of action for another lengthy stretch, with such a troublesome ailment, highly discouraged the Port St. Joe, FL native. It was discussions with another Phillies minor leaguer who had been through Achilles surgery that allowed Quinn to bounce back psychologically.
"It brought me down real low, man," Quinn explained. "It was just very discouraging until I talked with Albert Cartwright, actually. He had the same injury. I talked to him about his injury and everything and he was just telling me, 'Stay with it and just go hard in your rehab, man, and you can come back even faster, even stronger.' 'Cause that's exactly what he did and as soon as I heard that, it gave me all my confidence back."
Cartwright, who was originally a Houston draft pick and joined the Phillies in a trade prior to the 2011 season, became good friends with Quinn when Cartwright was making a comeback in the spring of 2012. Cartwright, who was very happy to share details of his personal triumphs with the younger Quinn, was away from the diamond for six months and didn't play in a game for seven months, while he recovered from surgery on his right Achilles tendon in 2011.
The 26-year-old Cartwright says there's no lasting impact on his health, relating to his game play.
"It's funny because people ask me about how my foot is doing, if it still gives me problems and I chuckle because I think I worry about my other foot more than the one I injured," Cartwright said.
Quinn, who was still adapting to a new position (he was mostly an outfielder in high school prior to turning pro) and working to develop his skills at switch-hitting (Quinn is a natural righty batter) last year, was far from satisfied with the efforts he put forth in 2013 with the BlueClaws. The youngster feels, though, that the struggles to this point will help him be tougher on the field and between his ears.
"I really think that this is going to help me out a lot," Quinn stated. "It could be a blessing in disguise. I think that anything to help me slow everything down again and getting everything figured out mentally, because mentally is, like, the biggest part of the game, I think it would make me a tougher player. Facing more adversity and overcoming that, man, it's gonna play out real well."
As a member of the BlueClaws last year, the five-foot-ten 170-pounder batted .238 with five home runs, 21 RBI and 32 stolen bases. Quinn made his professional debut with Class-A short-season Williamsport in 2012, posting a .281 batting average with a homer, 23 RBI and a league leading 30 steals in 66 contests. He was also tops in the New York-Penn League in triples with 11 and runs scored with 56 in his first year in the minors.
With a daily routine that includes 10 minutes of walking on a treadmill, 10 minutes on an exercise bike, loads of stretching and calf raises as well as a normal gym routine for the rest of his body, Quinn is pain-free and optimistic for a mid-season return in 2014. He is currently targeting late June or early July this year to participate in game action.
"I'm feeling great. My Achilles doesn't bother me at all. It just gets real tight some days and I have to stretch it out. It's feeling really good. I'm feeling really good about my recovery and coming back to play."
Quinn would likely see action in the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, who play in Clearwater, FL, where organizational training staff could continue to monitor and work with youngster, before he might make a return to Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park.