Austin Excited To Be Back

Austin has 4 doubles in 5 games since his return

TRENTON, NJ - It's playoff time for the Trenton Thunder and nobody has been more excited to get going than outfielder Tyler Austin. He comes back to the heart of the lineup after several weeks healing from injury. The clubhouse energy is high and he has made his presence felt in his first few games.

Austin was diagnosed with a bruised bone in his wrist while on the road against Portland early in the month of July. Trying to play a few games through the pain, it had enough of an impact mentally and physically that he decided that he just needed to heal.

"It's a bone bruise," Austin said in an interview after being placed on the disabled list. "It got jammed in an at-bat versus Portland a few weeks back and ever since then, it hasn't gotten better.

"I was hesitant to swing at pitches when we were in New Britain, based on the fact that it was hurting on every swing. I feared and it was getting worse [there], and I didn't want to take a chance, so I shut it down."

Now that he's been playing in a few games, his impact in the clubhouse and on the field has been very noticeable. He was three for eight with an RBI in the final two games of the regular season at Portland.

Then in the first playoff game against Binghamton, he exploded with a three-hit game with two doubles, two RBIs, and scored two runs; one of which being the game-winner in the bottom of the tenth inning.

"It's good to have him back," Thunder Manager Tony Franklin said. "He's provided our team exactly what we needed. He's comes up with the big hits that has been getting us rolling.

"They've been big hits in that juncture and then the next game too. I think what he brings the most is his presence. We've got left-handed hitters out the wazoo. So it does help to have a guy in there that brings some [right handed] presence, like Tyler."

There was some fear from the team that Austin may not be healed in time for the end of the season, but he proved the doubters wrong.

"Honestly, I didn't expect to see him," hitting coach Justin Turner said. "I was in contact with him the whole time and he's telling me that he's going to be back. I'm like 'well, we'll have to wait for the official word from the medical staff and the whole time', and I'm keeping my fingers crossed because I love having him here.

"He brings intensity, passion, he wants to win, and that's the kind of atmosphere that we want to have. When we found out he was joining us in Portland, all systems go."

Before sustaining the injury, Trenton had a record of 46-45 and the Double-A club was fighting just to have a positive season. The Yankees organization had dealt with injuries to many players, like Austin, and as a result, the Thunder used a total of 72 players who have been on the roster throughout the season to finish with a 74-67 record.

Being one of the few players in the organization lucky enough not to be shut down for the rest of the season gives him a lot of motivation, especially at playoff time.

"I'm very excited to be back here and get [the playoffs] going," Austin said. "This is a great group of guys and we've got a lot of heart. This is one of the better teams that I've been on.

"These guys play their butts off every single day, and I'm blessed to [get back] to being a part of this team. Luckily we got on top of everything really quickly [when I rehabbed] in Tampa."

Austin plans on playing in the Arizona Fall League after his Double-A season comes to an end. He plans on making up for some of the lost at-bats, but at the same time, get some more experience. Turner is focusing on what Austin needs to do right now to end his season.

"We're still looking at him, and these are some big at-bats," Turner said about Austin's last few games of the year. "Its playoff baseball against guys like Syndergaard and then Walters, who's got 38 saves. These are still important at-bats to kind of cap off his season. Some might look at [his whole season] as disappointing, but I look at it as a nice learning year for him."

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