Danny Stienstra's patience is paying off

The Batavia Muckdogs' twice-injured infielder/outfielder has worked hard to get back.

In baseball, patience is just as important as the five tools.

Consider Batavia Muckdogs' infielder Danny Stienstra – a 2011 12th-round pick from San Jose State – who has had a lot of time to think about the interrupted beginning to his career.

Stienstra in May
The 23-year-old has suffered two injuries in his nascent career, limiting him to less than half of a short-season schedule of games in his two-year career. This year, Stienstra had surgery to repair a torn radial collateral ligament in his right thumb shortly after spring training. Most of his 2012 season, though, was spent watching the sport he loves from afar while dealing with the monotony of baseball's equivalent of purgatory: extended spring training.

"It was frustrating," Stienstra said. "I had a negative attitude, just because I was watching baseball every day. I watched all spring training, I watched all extended (spring training), so pretty much I watched four months of baseball without playing."

Extended spring training is where players are sent who are expected to play short-season ball or rehabbing at various levels. Stienstra had the same schedule every day at extended spring training which included waking up early enough to make the buses which left at 6 a.m. to the fields. After that? Rehab, watching baseball, and more rehab. Stienstra at least found comfort that his injury was identified and addressed.

"After a while, once I got it fixed, and I knew what was wrong, I stayed actually really positive. I learned from my first injury to be positive."

After three games in the Gulf Coast League, Stienstra returned to the Muckdogs on July 22. Although the right-handed hitter is spending a second partial season in the New York-Penn League, his patience is paying off. In 23 games, Stienstra is hitting .353/.388/.451 with four doubles and 12 RBI. Ten of those games were multi-hit efforts, including one on July 29 in which he finished 4-for-5 with three RBI.

Stienstra's stats would not show it, but he has only been back to hitting for less than two months since surgery. His game, though, hasn't changed. The same patience that Stienstra used to get through two injuries in two years and the tedium of extended spring training also allows him to deliver a quality at-bat; he has predilection for not getting punched out. With five in 91 at-bats, that accounts for a 5.4 percent strikeout rate when the NYPL average is almost 20.

"My college coach was huge into not striking out," Stienstra said. "We would work on it for hours and hours a day. In college, if you struck out, you wouldn't play."

His father also played a part in his plate approach philosophy.

"That was the first thing my dad would ask me after Little League: Iit wouldn't be, ‘Did you get a hit,' it was, ‘Did you strike out?'"

"I don't really like it. I feel embarrassed when I strike out," he said.

Stienstra's play has earned him an everyday role in a crowded infield that includes new draft picks and he's mostly seen time at second and first base. Now playing at "100 percent," Stienstra hopes he will continue to get to play baseball through the start of next season, and not just watch.

"I feel like a little kid again, being able to play baseball. I'm not really worried about anything."

Follow me on Twitter: @SloaneMartin.

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