Red Wing Jason Bartlett broke his left wrist during a game on Saturday, May 8. The 24-year-old shortstop will likely miss four to six weeks.
Despite sitting out 15 games with the injury through May 24, Bartlett was still in the top-40 in IL hits. He rode an eight-game errorless streak before breaking his wrist --- a big improvement over the 11 errors he committed early in his first Triple-A season. During his absence, Rochester has gone 7-8, moving in and out of first place in the IL North.
This is the second installment of a periodic series chronicling Bartlett's season, as told to Mike Doser.
After I got hurt, the team let me go home to Lodi, California, for 10 days because I'm not able to do anything as far as rehab or working at the field. I'm in Lodi now.
The injury happened in our first at-bat against Durham at Frontier. Dewon Brazelton was pitching. I guess I'll never forget him. I think I had two strikes. Brazelton was probably trying to sneak a fast ball in and it just got away. It was a check swing that hit me in the hands. I didn't know the wrist was broken. I played until the fifth or sixth inning. I made a couple of plays, got a couple of hits. I figured it was pretty bruised.
I remember taping it really tight to keep it compressed. When I went to take my next at-bat, I said to the trainer, "I can't swing." And he said, "Well try it." So I got on-deck and I wanted to keep playing. At the plate, adrenaline took over. Eventually, manager Phil Roof saw that I was hurting and took me out. We were up 13-1 at that point.
The good news is that, being in Lodi, I saw my nephew for the first time. My sister and her husband had him at the beginning of April. I didn't think I'd see him until he was six months old. He's awesome. He's adorable. I'm not ready to settle down at 24, but being around him is actually making me feel more comfortable around babies. I don't think my teammates would be surprised to see this side of me.
Overall, it's weird to be home during baseball season. I've never been here this time of year since I turned pro four years ago. I'm still keeping up with the team. I listen to them online.
But I've also been able to keep up with the Giants. I grew up a Giants fan. Lodi is about 100 miles from San Francisco. I'm a big Sacramento Kings fan, too. I didn't know that the Kings franchise once was the Rochester Royals. My whole family was bummed that the Kings lost to the Timberwolves in the NBA Western Conference Semifinals. I lost a bet with Mike Restovich, who's from Rochester, Minnesota. We had a friendly little wager going --- money and dinner.
I've been hitting the gym and doing some cardio, some abs --- stuff that doesn't involve the wrist. But basically I've taken it easy and hung out with the family. The home cooking is great. I've already put on some weight.
Last night [May 18], I went to my old high school's playoff game. My school, St. Mary's, won in the last inning and is one of the top-ranked teams in Northern California. I saw my coaches and some friends and they heard that I broke my wrist. They had the story messed up. They thought I was supposed to go up to the Twins, but that I played that day in Rochester and got hurt. That's not what happened.
Management doesn't say too much in particular about how long it wants a player to stay in the minors to develop. This is my first season at this level. It's like this: If a young guy is playing well and the parent club needs someone, he'll get called up. If he's not playing well, the club will go with someone else.
First baseman Justin Morneau got called up. He was among the IL home run leaders. He could be playing in the big leagues for many other teams.
There is a balance in Triple-A. Sure, everybody wants to win. But Triple-A is all about getting ready for the big leagues. We're going to try to win while we're here. But the main goal is to make the majors.
Though I'm away, I still keep up with the guys. I call pitcher Jesse Crain, who's my roommate, and also pitcher Dave Gassner and Terry Tiffee. I heard Tiffee hit a grand slam in the first inning against Norfolk, which propelled us to a 4-3 win. Gassner won the game, his sixth victory --- among the best in the IL --- and Crain got the save. He's also among the league leaders in that department.
I also watch the Twins. They were on TV the other day, when Matt LeCroy came off the bench to hit the game-winning grand slam for a 6-5 victory in Toronto. They're doing pretty well, at or near the top of the AL Central.