Ruckle on the Road Back

Jake Ruckle's first stint in Double-A did not last long as he was forced to undergo shoulder surgery only six weeks into the season. Now months into his rehab, he describes what his year has been like, the condition of his shoulder and what he looks forward to this off-season.

[FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT]

Coming off a strong effort in St. Lucie in 2007 when he went 6-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 27 appearances, 11 of which were starts, Jake Ruckle did not expect to spend the majority of his 2008 season repairing his shoulder. But after six starts into his stay in Binghamton, he was forced to do just that as he underwent surgery on May 20.

Yet four months after correcting a torn labrum, or "slack tear" in his right shoulder, the right-hander known for his unorthodox delivery feels very confident about how his rehabilitation has progressed.

"I'm just over four months post-surgery and my range of motion is near 100 percent, my strength has come back really well, so it's all good. I need to go back to my doctor to get cleared for throwing, but my back and my arms have got a lot stronger. I'm just overall feeling good," said Ruckle.

As the problem first reared its head during Spring Training and carried into the regular season, Ruckle first underwent treatment for biceps tendinitis before the proper diagnosis was made when the pain became too much.

But throughout his time away from the mound, he has maintained a positive attitude in large part because the injury and following surgery came early enough so that two seasons would not be interrupted. Nonetheless, he admitted it was difficult seeing his teammates move on to higher levels.

"Missing all the time was really hard," he said, "but I kept telling myself that it happened early enough and that I have time to work and get back out there for Spring Training."

"It was really hard because I missed a season and I'm seeing guys I compete with go up to the big leagues. That was kind of frustrating, but I did my best to keep my mind off those things and stay positive," he continued.

Ruckle endured the all the standard procedures that go into rehabbing the shoulder post-surgery and has improved the strength in surrounding areas, leading him to believe he will return more durable than he was prior to the injury.

More importantly, spending months in physical therapy has renewed his drive. Ruckle, a self-described "busy body", got too much of life away from the diamond—an amount of time he does want to repeat.

"This time off the field has shown me how badly I want to be in the big leagues and I don't want to be doing something other than baseball. Getting hurt slowed me down, but it's driven me to come back stronger and I think I will because I've added so much strength in other areas," he explained.

As for his atypical throwing motion? It is not the root cause for shoulder issues. Prior to the season, Ruckle went back and watched video of his delivery with pitching coordinator-turn-Triple-A pitching coach Rick Waits. Waits examination was positive.

"He told me how that no matter how unorthodox my motion is, I'm always in the proper throwing position," said Ruckle.

If any stress has been relieved with his rehab it is in his back. Ruckle, who lurches backwards before coming over the top, strengthened the area which he explained was a sore spot in a delivery.

Looking ahead, Ruckle is on target to begin his throwing program on November 1. He does not concern himself with numbers or his efforts in the 2008 season as he is singularly focused on being ready for the start of Spring Training.

"I don't even count this season as if I've done anything. I got six starts in Double-A, I know I can pitch at that level, but I'm not going by anything I did this year."

"The only thing I've been thinking about is being 100 percent by March 1 and have a great Spring Training and I think that's very attainable," he said. "I'm feeling good enough right now that I think I'll be ready for Spring Training and go through it and be on my game for the start of the season."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n[FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT]
\r\n
\r\nComing off a strong effort in St. Lucie in 2007 when he went 6-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 27 appearances, 11 of which were starts, Jake Ruckle did not expect to spend the majority of his 2008 season repairing his shoulder. But after six starts into his stay in Binghamton, he was forced to do just that as he underwent surgery on May 20.
\r\n
\r\nYet four months after correcting a torn labrum, or \"slack tear\" in his right shoulder, the right-hander known for his unorthodox delivery feels very confident about how his rehabilitation has progressed.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just over four months post-surgery and my range of motion is near 100 percent, my strength has come back really well, so it's all good. I need to go back to my doctor to get cleared for throwing, but my back and my arms have got a lot stronger. I'm just overall feeling good,\" said Ruckle.
\r\n
\r\nAs the problem first reared its head during Spring Training and carried into the regular season, Ruckle first underwent treatment for biceps tendinitis before the proper diagnosis was made when the pain became too much.
\r\n
\r\nBut throughout his time away from the mound, he has maintained a positive attitude in large part because the injury and following surgery came early enough so that two seasons would not be interrupted. Nonetheless, he admitted it was difficult seeing his teammates move on to higher levels.
\r\n
\r\n\"Missing all the time was really hard,\" he said, \"but I kept telling myself that it happened early enough and that I have time to work and get back out there for Spring Training.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It was really hard because I missed a season and I'm seeing guys I compete with go up to the big leagues. That was kind of frustrating, but I did my best to keep my mind off those things and stay positive,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nRuckle endured the all the standard procedures that go into rehabbing the shoulder post-surgery and has improved the strength in surrounding areas, leading him to believe he will return more durable than he was prior to the injury.
\r\n
\r\nMore importantly, spending months in physical therapy has renewed his drive. Ruckle, a self-described \"busy body\", got too much of life away from the diamond—an amount of time he does want to repeat.
\r\n
\r\n\"This time off the field has shown me how badly I want to be in the big leagues and I don't want to be doing something other than baseball. Getting hurt slowed me down, but it's driven me to come back stronger and I think I will because I've added so much strength in other areas,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\nAs for his atypical throwing motion? It is not the root cause for shoulder issues. Prior to the season, Ruckle went back and watched video of his delivery with pitching coordinator-turn-Triple-A pitching coach Rick Waits. Waits examination was positive.
\r\n
\r\n\"He told me how that no matter how unorthodox my motion is, I'm always in the proper throwing position,\" said Ruckle.
\r\n
\r\nIf any stress has been relieved with his rehab it is in his back. Ruckle, who lurches backwards before coming over the top, strengthened the area which he explained was a sore spot in a delivery.
\r\n
\r\nLooking ahead, Ruckle is on target to begin his throwing program on November 1. He does not concern himself with numbers or his efforts in the 2008 season as he is singularly focused on being ready for the start of Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't even count this season as if I've done anything. I got six starts in Double-A, I know I can pitch at that level, but I'm not going by anything I did this year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"The only thing I've been thinking about is being 100 percent by March 1 and have a great Spring Training and I think that's very attainable,\" he said. \"I'm feeling good enough right now that I think I'll be ready for Spring Training and go through it and be on my game for the start of the season.\"
\r\n
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