Jeff Flaig: Still Ticking

EVERETT, Wash. - In the game of baseball, durability is a rare quality amongst players. Unlike other sports such as football or wrestling, where athletes have been known to play through serious injuries, baseball players are largely seen as a pampered and delicate bunch — especially when it comes to shoulder injuries. There's almost a rule that baseball players aren't supposed to play hurt.

Apparently, Everett AquaSox first baseman Jeff Flaig didn't get that memo.

The Seattle Mariners made Flaig their second round draft pick in 2003 (56th overall) as a third baseman. After graduating El Dorado High in his native California, Flaig was poised to man the left side of the diamond for the Arizona Mariners in the Arizona Rookie League. Before his season could get underway, however, Flaig suffered one of baseball's most dreaded injuries - a torn rotator cuff.

"It just fell on one throw," Flaig said. "I was throwing a lot during [practice] and then on this one throw I felt it and I just couldn't throw anymore."

The injury wasn't Flaig's first. He had fallen victim to the same fate earlier in his high school days and was forced to sit out a season. For most players, two torn rotator cuffs by the age of 19 would be enough to derail an entire career. Flaig, however, didn't even let the injury stop him from playing that season. He worked as a DH in rookie ball that year, batting .252 with 12 RBI in 32 games.

"[I wanted] to get some hitting in," said Flaig. "I didn't feel like being out the whole year again, so I just decided to get some at-bats and that was about it."

Once the season ended, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-hander underwent surgery and a grueling rehab schedule to prepare for a return in 2005.

"I had a ligament tear and they [Flaig's doctors] fixed it up. After that I was back home doing rehab everyday, pretty much just strengthening the shoulder."

Flaig's work paid off. He was ready in time for the 2005 season and was awarded a spot with the Seattle Mariners Class-A short season affiliate, the Everett AquaSox. Flaig has already proven himself on the offensive end, hitting .288 with two home runs and 14 RBI in 18 games.

He's also been adjusting to a new position. The club decided, prior to the season, to move Flaig to first base to allow his arm more time to heal.

"I like first a lot - it's good for me," Flaig said, though his heart remains at third.

"There has been a little bit of talk about moving me [back to third], but probably not this year. Hopefully I can do something in the off-season and see how it goes and then hopefully next year move back to third base, but wherever [the Mariners] want me to play, I'll play."

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories