Frye Returns to the Mound after Long Layoff

APPLETON, Wisc. - The Timber Rattlers roster has resembled a revolving door for the past month, the price a talented minor league team has to pay for success. The team had seven representatives in Peoria for the Midwest League All-Star Game, and that would have been eight if right-hander Mumba Rivera hadn't been promoted to Inland Empire.

Fast forward a week later and the Rattlers now have five of those original eight all-stars. They are also expected to lose closer Craig James and the hot-hitting outfielder Sebastien Boucher to Inland in the coming days.

But like a revolving door, people come in as well as depart. Enter Randy Frye. Remember Frye? With the hype a lot of young Mariner prospects have received, many of you may have forgotten about Frye. This hard throwing right-hander comes to Wisconsin after sitting out all of last season with shoulder problems.

This year is almost like starting all over for the pitcher who was named Mr. Baseball for the state of Michigan and Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year in 2002. After experiencing shoulder problems at the end of 2003 and all of last year, Frye must spend 2005 relearning and making up for lost time.

"When enduring an injury you're forced to learn how to pitch," said Rattlers pitching coach Brad Holman. "You're used to going out there with the higher velocity, a sharper breaking ball and now all the sudden you don't have that. Now you have to count on other things to help you get the job done."

The frustrating shoulder problems temporarily derailed a promising career for Frye. While with Everett in 2003, he started the season 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA after four starts. And he did not allow an earned run in last two starts of the season. He finished the season 5-4 with a 4.79 ERA and 53 strikeouts.

But Frye's misfortunes developed near the end of that season with the AquaSox. Compounding matters, the injury got significantly worse as spring training came around the following February. He developed a case of bursitis and tendonitis that sent him to Arizona for a long, frustrating rehab.

"I went from being in Everett having fun, playing ball, the whole routine thing, then down to Arizona for months," said Frye. "You just have to work through it, because that's definitely not like this up here in Wisconsin with the fans and the music."

After rehabbing, Frye is finally back and enjoying his stay in the Midwest League. The Michigan native has been looking forward to playing in front of his family and friends for quite awhile.

"Being here is nice. I've been waiting to be up here," said Frye. " And I'm finally here I'm not going to give up."

That determined attitude is just what Frye needs to continue to elevate his career. His mental tenacity has carried him through the torments of a long recovery and will continue to help him develop this year.

"He's definitely one who's not going to quit," said Holman. "I think he's willing to put forth the effort and endure the hardships, towards getting to where he needs to be."

Frye's mental toughness carries over into his style of play. He is a very aggressive pitcher who is not afraid to attack the strike zone.

"He would always go after hitters, he was always fun to play defense for because he'd always get up there and go after somebody," said Josh Womack, talking about playing with Frye in 2002 and 2003. "He's not a cutesy pitcher, he'd just get up there and challenges them."

And Frye has come out with that determined and aggressive style so far this season. So far, Frye has played four games and posted a 2-1 record with a 5.63 ERA. While they are not astonishing numbers, they're definitely promising for a player coming off a yearlong injury. Frye has the ability to succeed, this year he just needs to work on refining that talent.

"One thing I've talked to Randy about is the emphasis and importance of locating his pitches," said Holman. "He's got the stuff. It's just a matter of putting it all together and finding that consistent release."

Frye has all the motivation and enthusiasm in the world. And it looks like he could be turning a few heads here in Wisconsin.

"They might have forgot about me, but I'll be back in their eyes again," he said. "I won't be gone for too long. That is my plan."

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