Foppert Stunned, But Ready For New Start

TACOMA, Wash. - Professional baseball players usually have to deal with constant travel, but Jesse Foppert's week has been a little out of the ordinary. "Four days ago I was in Nashville, now I'm here, and tomorrow we'll be in New Orleans," said Foppert, one of the four pitchers acquired by Seattle over the weekend. It was a moving week the 25-year-old didn't see coming, as he expressed with in one of his first interviews since joining the Mariners organization.

Foppert owes his 4,067 mile week to Saturday's trade between the San Francisco Giants and Mariners that sent the young right-hander and catcher Yorvit Torrealba to the M's for outfielder Randy Winn.

"I was shocked, but not surprised I guess you could say," Foppert explained. "I wasn't expecting it, but anything can happen."

Foppert should know about the ups and downs of professional baseball. After being drafted in the second round of the 2001 draft, Foppert enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Giants system. He had just 40 minor league starts under his belt when he took the mound for his first Major League start in 2003. His season was cut short with a ligament tear in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery.

He remembers the worst part of being injured.

"Sitting there watching," Foppert remarked. "The offseason wasn't so bad, it was a typical offseason for me, I'd go in and work out. Once the season started that was when it got frustrating."

The University of San Francisco alum turned his frustration into progress during his rehabilitation. After his surgery on September 16, 2003, the 6-foot-6 righty recovered amazingly fast, throwing his first simulated game the next June. He rejoined the Giants major league squad on September 7, 2004, and pitched one inning in the final series of the season.

"They said it was the fastest in history, to come back and pitch in the Major Leagues," Foppert recalls.

Even with the quick recovery, Foppert realizes that there are long-term difficulties when recovering from such a serious operation.

"Getting the feel back is the biggest thing," says Foppert. "They say it takes two years to get back to where you were, sometimes longer."

If the two-year window holds true and Foppert fully regains his abilities, the Randy Winn trade will be seen as a coup for the M's.

For Foppert, the test will be adjusting to life far away from his California home.

"[The hardest part] is knowing that I'm not going to be close to home most of the year next year," the 25-year-old explained.

Making the adjustment easier are the similarities between the two organizations.

"It seems pretty similar to the Giants, laid back and professional," said Foppert. "Baseball players are all the same, it's easy to get adjusted to a new team."

Knowing that he will get the opportunity to be considered for a spot on the Mariners roster also makes the transition a little easier to swallow. You can see his excitement when you ask what he's looking forward to the most.

"Just getting the opportunity to pitch here and hopefully go up to Seattle," Foppert said.

Everything the young right-hander is doing points toward his goal, to once again reach the major leagues and stay there. Foppert knows what he has to do to have another chance.

"I have to make better quality pitches all around, and stay healthy and strong," Foppert said.

If he can make that happen, Jesse Foppert should be able to add one more stop to his itinerary—Safeco Field.

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