It was truly a shame too because prior to the injury, Jagielo had been finding his groove. In seventeen games played in May, he was hitting .281 with six bombs, 17 RBI’s and an impressive .839 OPS to match.
“The injury kind of came out of nowhere in the middle of the game,” Jagielo lamented. “It ended up being an internal oblique injury.”
For a power hitter like Jagielo, any kind of ailment to the midsection is devastating as the injury prevents the player from getting full rotation and torque behind their swing. In fact, the word “oblique” has become an ubiquitous cause for alarm in professional baseball in the past few years.
Former Tigers skipper Jim Leyland put it best in an interview he did with FanGraphs in 2011. “I learned a long time ago when the word oblique is mentioned, I get nervous… I’ve never seen an oblique alright in a day or two. It’s never happened as long as I’ve been managing,” he told them.
Though being informed that you have a widely feared injury can be somewhat soul crushing, Jagielo maintained a level head and a sense of maturity throughout the entire process.
“It was frustrating but you can’t do anything about it," he said. "That’s the game of baseball, you’ve gotta go about your business the right way because you never know when something like that’s going to happen.”
The waiting game tested Jagielo, but he remained focused on diligently rehabbing with the Tampa training staff.
“This is the first time I’ve had to go through a midseason rehab,” he said. “I’m just trying to take the good side out of it and learn how to prevent it. If anything ever happens in the future you learn how to get back quicker.”
According to Jagielo, the rehabilitation process was fairly straightforward. Once the injury was fully healed, the training staff worked on restrengthening his throwing and hitting mechanics. After a successful stint in the Gulf Coast League, he was finally cleared to return on July 16th, much to his manager’s delight.
“It’s very exciting having that type of player back in your lineup,” Tampa skipper Al Pedrique said.
“Before he got hurt he was swinging the bat well, leading the team in home runs and RBI’s. Now that he’s back 100 percent with a month and a half left in the season he’ll be able to help us.”
It’s hard to see injury as opportunity, but this could be the fuel that pushes Eric Jagielo to come back stronger than ever.
Hitting Coach P.J. Pilittere certainly thinks so.
“My confidence is that he can be better than he was before the injury. This year is his first full season as a professional player. He has amazing potential and my expectations are very high for him as a hitter,” Pilittere remarked.
For Jagielo, the biggest excitement comes from reuniting with his teammates.
“It was a relief when they let me start coming back,” he said. “Just having the game atmosphere and being around the guys and the coaching staff was great. I mean it’s awesome, it definitely lifts your spirits. The best advice some of the guys and coaches told me was not to do too much right away.”
While Pedrique is thrilled at Jagielo’s successful rehabilitation and return, he cautions that it will still take a bit more time before he’s fully adjusted.
“It’s going to take a few games for him to find his timing and his swing," Pedrique opined. "A lot of the guys he was facing in the first half are gone, they got called up so he’ll be facing new pitchers and having to adjust."
Yet, Pedrique knows full and well that if anyone can handle the challenge, it’s the former first round draft pick.
“There’s no doubt about [the fact that he’ll be ready.] We know he can be helping the team getting RBI’s and big hits for us. He’s the type of guy that will fight every at-bat and give you his best,” Pedrique concluded.
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TAMPA, FL - Tuesday, May 20th is a day Tampa Yankees third baseman Eric Jagielo would like to forget. After blasting a home run early in a game against Jupiter, Jagielo quickly exited with tightness in his side and would not return for the rest of the game. The heaviest blow to both Jagielo and the Yankees came when it was revealed that he would miss the rest of May and all of June.
Eric Jagielo missed nearly two months of the season but he's excited to be back now.