Heathcott Aiming To Bounce Back

Heathcott is just 3 for his first 18 so far

TRENTON, NJ - In 2010, Slade Heathcott had his season cut short due to a shoulder injury while playing for Charleston. In 2011, he only played 53 games. The 2012 season consisted of a second shoulder injury for Heathcott. Now, the 23-year old outfielder looks to bounce back from offseason surgery to his right knee, which kept him out of Spring Training and the beginning of this season.

For Heathcott, one of the top prospects in the New York Yankees farm system, missing so much time is never good, especially with 2014 being such a crucial year.

"Missing time in anything is no fun," he said. "You get paid to play the game and when we're sitting on the bench watching everyone else play it kinda makes you wonder why we're there."

The Texarkana native has only played five games since returning from the disabled list, and has been struggling to get timing back at the plate, recording only three hits in 18 at-bats. Manager Tony Franklin said it's hard to get a grasp on where Heathcott is right now after playing only a few games.

"He's just getting started, and his season is just beginning," Franklin said. "It's kinda hard to tell where he is right now, but I do know one thing, and that is you can always count on him giving his best out there. He plays the game with a lot of intensity, and you'll see that every single night he's in the lineup."

After being sidelined for the first month and a half of the season, Heathcott is thrilled to be back out on the field with the opportunity to help his team get a few wins. The Thunder are currently 25-21, trailing the Portland Sea Dogs for first place in the division by five and half games.

"I'm extremely excited to be back and get back into the swing of things. I'm still trying to get back to where I'm able to go full speed,"Heathcott said.

Franklin knows it takes time for anybody to recover from an injury and get back to one hundred percent, and acknowledged that Heathcott is still trying to get his timing back at the plate.

"This is a game of feeling, and it takes a while to get the feel back after an injury," he said. "You just don't jump into this after missing half a season and all of Spring Training and all of a sudden say ‘I'm back where I am', so it's gonna take some time to get his feet under him again."

In terms of improvement, Franklin said consistency from Heathcott will be a key part of his development as he works towards moving up in the system.

"As is the case with all young players, Slade just needs to become more consistent in his ability to play," he said. "We talked about the same thing last year with Slade, but he's still young in his career so there's a lot of things to learn and hopefully by the time he leaves here he'll have a pretty good idea of what he needs to do to move up and make his way to the major leagues."

Compared to last year when Heathcott was with the Thunder, Franklin has noticed that he is approaching the game a lot smarter than the previous season.

"He knows he can't go 110 percent all the time, especially when you have injuries," he said. "There are gonna be some days when he feels good and some days when he doesn't, and he's finding a way to get through those days."

After being given the day off in a recent Thunder game, Heathcott will certainly be eager to get back into the lineup, as he continues to take the next step towards making it to the big leagues.

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