|Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd|
Recently, I wrote a feature on Phillies pitching prospect Luke Leftwich and his recovery from a shoulder ailment that he experienced last season. That piece can be found by clicking this link.
Beyond his physical situation and his delayed start to in-game action this spring, the 25-year-old also talked with me about who has helped him stay positive, if he feels undervalued, a huge life event this off-season, some considerable coach turnover in the Phils system and more.
Read ahead for exclusive interview excerpts with Leftwich.
-(I had asked about his shoulder injury and recovering from that. Luke offered some feedback in addition to what appears in the article.)
That brings us to now. With the time I took to do all the physical therapy to work out all the kinks in my shoulder, I got pushed back with the start of my throwing progression. So, I would consider myself healthy, but I'm about a month behind where I normally would be going into spring training. I'm on my normal throwing progression, I'm just a little bit behind everyone else that's in camp, so they wanted me to come down here early and technically be in the rehab group so they can monitor my time throwing and coming back because a third occurrence of this kind of injury is really not good. So, that's where we're at now.
-You sound like you've got a positive tone as you explain it, so you would seem to understand and accept everything and you're good with it, so that's great. Can you share some thoughts on who has made an impact for you during all this down time? Is there a coach, a teammate, anyone that's been key in helping you maintain a positive outlook through all of this?
Yeah, it's kind of been a couple people. Aaron Fultz has checked in on me every few weeks in the off-season and he was always a good person to talk to about basically just, "You're fine. I know you're behind"- 'cause I was a little bit worried at first about being behind and he put my mind at ease. And then getting here and being around these other guys, like Trevor Bettencourt, Ben Brown, those guys that had to get Tommy John (surgery) last year. They've been down here for so long, really grinding their butts off, trying to get back to being healthy. Honestly, those guys kind of set a good example of getting in, getting your stuff done, because it is such a day-by-day, step-by-step process.
-The Phils' minor league coaching staff announcements came out and some of these we knew about after last season wrapped up, and typically there will be some turnover with the coaching staffs each year, but this time it seems a bit heavier, with maybe more names than normal getting let go. As a player, do you notice that it seems that way or is the turnover just part of the business, 'cause you'll see that happen with so many players that parting ways is just the nature of the business?
I mean, you do build bonds with coaches and I love a lot of the guys that we had last year that aren't coming back this year. And it is like you said, I don't want to say you get numb to it after a while, because it sucks every time you lose a teammate, a friend or a coach. But it is like part of the game, part of the sport, part of the business where you know you're not guaranteed tomorrow, so you kind of have to roll with the punches. And sometimes you lose somebody that you really like and you gotta show up tomorrow and be the best you that you can be. You feel for the guys that you lose, but a lot of those guys, especially these coaches, have had such good careers and have worked with so many good players and have done so much that those guys are all gonna land on their feet. They're all good.
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