Well Worth the Wait

David Kindred stepped into the box last Saturday and didn't know what to expect. The combination of excitement and nervous anticipation was nearly overwhelming until that first pitch was thrown.

Soon after, everything but jubilation exited with one swing of the bat.

The redshirt freshman hadn't seen live action for nearly a year when the waiting and wondering proved all worth it as Kindred drilled a fastball into the gap and comfortably coasted into second base for a double. The solid at-bat was a relief, but it was also only an opening act. Kindred followed with a home run over the temporary left-field wall and a single to round out his day. In all, 3-3, a double, a long ball, an RBI and two runs scored.

Not bad for the first day.

No, not bad for anyone's first day, but especially so for a player that has been shelved with bad luck on the injury front and coming off a redshirt year to boot. Saturday was Kindred's first simulated game competition since early last spring. A nagging wrist injury impeded his ability to go full strength during fall practice or the majority of last season. There were times when he wasn't sure how the wrist would respond, but his first intrasquad of 2008 served as a welcoming indicator.

"It is just a blessing," Kindred said. "I felt so many things when I got to the plate, but I can't describe what it was like when I caught that first ball solid. The entire day couldn't have gone any better. Now, I just need to build on my confidence and keep working."

Working is what Kindred has focused on during this trying time. He stayed steadfast with his rehabilitation and recovery, while also picking out the positives of being redshirted. His time being away from the competition but still close enough to observe everything associated with the program could be beneficial from this point forward.

The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native was able to focus on the necessary things needed to improve and get better.

"I had to work hard physically to stay in shape while also doing everything to help my wrist, but any away time like that is just as big mentally," Kindred said. "Even though I haven't played in a game yet, I am a lot more experienced to compete this year. I know what is expected and know how committed you have to be."

Kindred was a member of the 2007 incoming class after a standout prep career at American Christian Academy. The career .450 high school hitter was a three-time All-State selection and connected for 20 home runs his senior season, a feat he shares in the Alabama record books with a guy named Bo Jackson.

"You can't help but be excited when a guy like David Kindred has a day like he did," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He is a great young man that has had to overcome a lot with injury and some time off. He has the ability to contribute and is one more example of the depth we have this season. He can hit the baseball."

He can, and he did. The three-for-three afternoon put to bed fears of not ever returning to full strength, so Kindred is now just focusing on following up the performance. Finding playing time amid a loaded roster is a difficult enough task in itself.

"I didn't have any expectations because it was the first weekend, but they would have been exceeded even if I had," Kindred said. "It is all about being in the mix for at-bats. I've never had so much fun. I just have to thank God for being able to come back healthy. Now it is just about playing baseball."

Tougher at-bats may still be in front of Kindred, but that first one back was as big as they come for a February scrimmage.

An at-bat he had been waiting for.

An at-bat he conquered.

OM Spirit Top Stories