Another Setback for Wylie

MESA, Ariz. -- Jason Wylie saved a combined total of 40 games in two seasons between Class-A Boise and Lansing in 2002 and '03. Afterward, the former University of Utah pitcher underwent shoulder surgery and has missed most of the last two seasons. He finally ridded himself of the shoulder burdens this season before suffering a freak accident that has prompted another unfortunate delay in his progress—one which has sidelined him until next season.

Wylie, a 12th round draft pick in 2002, pitched in 57 games during his sophomore season on the professional circuit with Lansing. After shoulder surgery sidelined him throughout most all of 2004, Wylie returned to action last June at Daytona. He appeared in 10 games and posted a 4.26 ERA with 15 strikeouts and five walks in 12 2/3 innings.

But just as he was getting ready to leave Mesa for a second stint in the Florida State League, a mini disaster struck.

While moving out of his apartment in Mesa with the help of his wife and brother in early June, Wylie came down awkwardly on a flight of stairs and suffered several cuts and scratches on his right knee. The injury set him back for roughly two weeks, in which time the right-hander battled an infection.

After leaving the emergency room with three stitches in the knee following the accident, Wylie returned home. He almost had to make a second trip back to the hospital.

"I was a morning away from going back and getting an IV put in, and my knee cut back open and flushed out," Wylie recalled.

"Thankfully, the antibiotics finally kicked in and got rid of it. My brother was helping me move a couch out. I tripped and caught my foot on one of the stairs going down, then hit my knee on a rock or something. It put a one-inch hole into my knee, so I had to get stitched up. Two days later, it was fiery hot with infection and everything. I got the stitches taken out and let it heal naturally."

Sound painful enough?

As if that weren't enough, Wylie also admits he has suffered from brief elbow inflammation this season. Things are looking up, however.

For starters, Wylie contends his shoulder, which was operated on last year by Dr. Stephen Gryzlo, has never felt better. An MRI last season revealed a frayed labrum in Wylie's throwing arm, in addition to a rather enlarged shoulder capsule. The capsule was rubbing closely with Wylie's rotator cuff, so Gryzlo shaved a portion of the bone off, Wylie said.

The reason Wylie left Daytona late in July was not because of anything related to his arm; rather, complications from the knee.

"The knee is good, really," Wylie said. "It's mostly the weakness and everything that I got from the infection. There's always a concern about every injury because of the way it can affect any part of your body, at any time, just by altering your mechanics somehow. They don't want me to have to go through that and accidentally erase all of the work that I've put in trying to get my shoulder better.

"I felt like everything was going well for me in Daytona and I felt I had all of my strength back. The knee problem was just something they didn't want to take any chances on."

And with that comes the announcement from Wylie that the Cubs have decided to shut him down for the rest of this season. The Provo, Utah, native has spent a considerable amount of time in Mesa this past year. He last pitched for Daytona on July 14, but did not officially leave the team until late last month.

Now, Wylie once again spends a good part of his day with Greg Keuter, the organization's rehab coordinator. It's a face that Wylie has become all too familiar with in the past year, and the former starter in college admits he has at times had difficulty staying positive with all of the playing time he's missed the past two seasons.

"I'm really bummed that I had to leave Daytona," Wylie said. "Finally getting to play again, I was really pumped. When you're away from the competition that long, you'll have a little doubt in yourself. As long as the coaches throw you back out there, though, you're OK. They trust in you, and you get along a lot better when you trust in yourself. I really felt I was getting back to my old self before this happened."

What lies ahead for Wylie is another long offseason in Mesa. It will be the second one in a row that he's spent in Arizona, getting healthy and preparing for the season ahead.

"It's all about strengthening," Wylie said. "Right now, we're doing a lot of icing on the knee. I'll start off icing and then ride the exercise bike and warm it up for about 25 minutes. After that, I start my squats - single-leg squats - and side lunges."

Lastly, Wylie reminds everyone that it isn't always easy not having any breaks for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas--quite the norm for any injured prospect rehabbing in Mesa. Hobbies such as hiking, snowboarding, and other various outdoor sports have to be put on hold as well.

"Whenever I get a chance to go back to Utah, I like to do a lot of hiking," Wylie noted. "My wife and I will climb the top of the mountains. It's very breathtaking and rewarding once you get up there. Anything competitive, I'll do it."

The next level of competitiveness for Wylie will come at Double-A next season. He's already been given the news by Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita.

"It's something to look forward to," Wylie said. "It makes it a lot easier to cope with after getting that taste of competition again and having to come back here. It's a little hard to let go of."

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