Jay Dantzler entered the 2010 baseball season as the starting left fielder and one of the leaders of the Georgia Tech baseball team. Jay was making the most of that opportunity until an injury kept him out of the lineup for six weeks.
Dantzler's goals for the team and himself were sailing along smoothly until an inside pitch from Maryland pitcher Sander Beck hit him on his throwing hand and knocking a key component of the Jackets lineup out for six weeks. The team was on their way to winning the 16th game of 18 played and Dantzler was hitting over .300 and with power.
While Dantzler has returned to the lineup he's still not 100%. "It's good to have Jay back because he gives us a lot of energy," said Coach Danny Hall. "His hand is getting better but it's still not 100%."
Having Dantzler down the stretch for the remaining ACC games and the post-season will be a plus for the Jackets in Hall's eyes. "He's a senior and has great leadership and has all the respect of our players," said Hall. "He was playing well prior to the injury so I'm looking forward to having him back."
There's only one person that's more excited than Coach Hall and the team to have Dantzler back and that is Jay. "It feels so good to be back out there," said Dantzler. "I've been waiting six weeks and finally the time has come."
Sitting on the bench and watching his teammates play was not an easy task for Dantzler. "It's tough sitting on the bench, especially this last year and watching the guys go out there," said Dantzler. "I had to sit there thinking and finally it felt good one day and I finally got back out there."
Dantzler returned for the opening game with Illinois-Chicago swinging the bat like he never missed a day. "It's crazy and I don't know how it's happened," said Dantzler. "I got in the box at practice on Wednesday and I was seeing the ball great." It didn't take Jay long to show his power when he hit a deep home run to left in his second game back.
Jay has come back relaxed, rested and ready to go. "For me coming out to the ballpark now is kind of a new season for me and I have a little extra pep in my step and hopefully I can carry it over to the guys that have been grinding it out the past few weeks."
The Jackets have two important series coming up in their goal to win the Coastal Division. Jay and his teammates are very much aware of what is at stake the next two weeks. "That's an important goal for us to win the Coastal and we're approaching it trying to play the baseball we know we can play." Jay and his teammates want to play solid defense, knock in runners when they're on base and to go out there and relax and trust the talent they have.
The one aspect of the game that is still causing Dantzler problems is his ability to throw the ball. "Everything is still bothering me a little bit but it's one of those things where when it's game-time I can't really feel it." Jay's throwing is coming along a little slower than his hitting as it's still a work in progress.
The weekend series with UIC was a chance for Jay to test his body to see where his was at with his hitting and throwing. While he's not completely where he wants to be, the results are reason for Jay, Coach Hall and his teammates to be optimistic going into the final weeks of the season.