Cannizaro Battles Back After Injury

Last year was a dream season for Andy Cannizaro. First, the 28 year-old played an entire season in Triple-A, batting .276 with three home runs and 32 RBI. Then in September, Cannizaro got the call to the big leagues and hit a home run in 13 games with the Yankees. But, as the calendar turned into 2007 and he reported to spring training with hopes of making the Major League squad, things changed.

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In spring training, his hopes and dreams fell apart after a back injury sidelined him just a few days into camp. As the season began, he was going through painful rehabilitation, while his former teammates were making names for themselves in Triple-A. To say the least, this season has been extremely trying for the seven-year vet.

"This first half has just been really frustrating," Andy Cannizaro said. "I was looking forward to going to Spring Training and having a chance to play in front of the Major League staff and just try to continue to show them that I could play in the big leagues. But, that didn't work out at all."

One reason the back injury worsened was because of Cannizaro's main goal of getting to the major Leagues. At first, he tried to just stick the injury out.

"My back started bothering me in the first week of camp, but I tried to tough it out for four or five days because the spring season had already started," he admitted. "I wanted to try to play as much as I could for the opportunity. But, after those first couple of days, that was it. I couldn't even move after that."

What transpired the next month and a half was a long rehab period in which Cannizaro had many doubts. One doubt that crossed his mind was the fact that he may never get back to 100 percent.

"At first I was optimistic and I was thinking I would be back in two or three weeks," he said. "But, once the season got started up here [Triple-A], I realized that wasn't going to be the case. That's when it got really frustrating because you don't know if you're ever going to come back."

The long hours of rehab have finally paid off for Cannizaro, who feels now that he is as close to 100 percent as possible.

"The one thing I'm trying to do is to just rebuild the strength I had in my back pre-injury," he said. "I just try to get it good enough so I can go out there and play everyday. I don't feel to the point where I was pre-injury, but I think I'll get there."

Playing everyday is what Cannizaro has been doing since he came back. After playing seven games in Double-A, he joined the Triple-A roster on June 30th and has contributed almost immediately.

In 18 games, Cannizaro is batting .333 with eight RBI. He helped the Triple-A Yankees go on a 7-1 tear on a recent road trip, which opened a two and a half game lead for the team in the International League North. He is extremely grateful to be playing everyday in Triple-A for the first time in 2007.

"To get back out on the field is very gratifying because I felt like I worked really hard the last couple of months to get back," he said. "I just want to enjoy being out there everyday and try to put it together and help the team win."

He is also satisfied that he is playing with his ex-teammates from various teams throughout the Yankee farm system in Scranton.

"I'm excited to be here just because I've played with so many of these guys the last couple of years and I have a good time playing with them and hanging out with them," he said.

His journey back to Triple-A has been long and painful. The fiery infielder, regardless of his physical state, still has the same goal he had in his mind back in Spring Training before he was injured.

"My main goal is to come up here [Scranton], help out and play well in the second half to show the guys at the big league level that I'm healthy," he said. "I want to show them that I can be an option if something were to happen up there. My ultimate goal is to play well enough in the second half to get back to the big leagues."

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