Padres Prospect: Josh Carter Healthy Again

Baseball is life. That is a common theme amongst the many prospects that dot the minor leagues. Players live and breathe the game and wouldn't turn their chance at stardom in for anything in the world. When that same game is ripped from you for a year, the mental anguish is tough to overcome. Two plus years later, San Diego Padres prospect Josh Carter is still feeling the affects and bounced from Mobile to Lake Elsinore and back again.

In 2001, Josh Carter was happily chugging along in the Padres minor league system. He was struggling at Eugene, after signing out of Oregon State as a 20 year old. Still he had plenty of time to right the ship.

In August of that same year it happened. Carter blew out his elbow. And that was just the beginning.

"I blew it out in a game throwing home," Carter recalled somberly. "My whole elbow swelled up. I went in and saw the doctor and found out it was completely snapped in half. They went in to do the surgery and saw a couple bone chips. It was only supposed to be an hour and a half, a normal Tommy John procedure, but it ended up being 4 and a half hours. They found five or six bone chips and shaved down a bone spur."

A year. A full year was gone. A magic trick that is not so appeasing to the eye. This was no sleight of hand but a tragic reality in Carter's baseball life.

When it is one of the things you know will be there for you and is taken away in seconds, the mental backlash is tremendous.

Returning to the diamond was a culture shock. After all the rehab and working out to strengthen the elbow, there is a period of doubt.

Will I risk further injury? When will I be symptom free?

"That took a while," Carter said of his comfort level. "I had never been out of baseball for a year, so it took me a few months to finally – I never really felt comfortable with my arm until probably last year midseason. Probably this season is when I feel fine with it.

"There are still times it gets tight. It is a normal Tommy John thing. It is not a big deal."

A year ago, playing for Lake Elsinore in the California League, Carter hit .300 without full confidence in his surgically repaired arm. But he was near his home of Fallbrook and that helped his assimilation back into the league.

The offseason came and, for once, Carter felt relieved. He would be able to bring routine back not his life. Those who play sports know how important that is. Getting into that groove is usually a result of the normal schedule.

"I finally got to go back to my normal procedure of working out hard and I love to lift and workout and I was finally able to do that and go about my normal routine."

Now fully recovered, Carter is looking to do big things.

The first half of his season was derailed as Carter was sent from Mobile back down to Lake Elsinore. He was just sent back up to Mobile this week and registered a hit on Sunday.

The effects of being sent down are still lingering.

"I was pissed," Carter admits. "I was real pissed. You have to be. I don't think I deserved it but I just have to do what I have to do."

He is back in Mobile, and he plans on staying there.

"I have been hitting the ball pretty good," says Carter. "Tonight I was jumping out a little bit, pulling off a little bit, but other than that I feel real good."

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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