Michael Main came into his first spring training with high hopes for his first full season of professional baseball. The right-hander, who consistently runs his fastball into the mid-90s, had finished the 2007 season with a 3.21 ERA in 10 starts between the rookie league and short-season Spokane.
But Main's spring came to an abrupt halt when he suffered two stress fractures on the right side of his ribs.
"It was the beginning of March in spring training," said Main. "I got out there in February, a little bit earlier. In the beginning of spring training, it just kind of started hurting one day. I tried to throw through it and the next day it was the same thing. I told the trainers and we shut it down for a day, went back out, and it just kept hurting"
Because rib injuries are not exactly common for pitchers, Main is not exactly sure how – or when – he was injured.
"The conclusion we came to was just from throwing," replied Main when asked how he hurt himself. "We really don't have any idea. But there is no exact thing on why or what caused it. It's kind of weird."
After being out for a couple of months, the Florida native says he is finally beginning to feel healthy and he looks forward to getting back on the mound.
"I have been out for the past week, week and a half and I've been throwing pain-free," he said. "It has been going good. I'm just trying to get back and get my arm back in throwing shape. Hopefully I can start throwing some bullpens in the next couple of weeks."
Even though Main's injury has taken a bit longer than expected to heal, he does not feel the injury is of a serious nature.
"You just have to sit and wait and let it heal up," said Main. "It's not serious. It's kind of a freak thing. You just have to sit and let it heal up because you can't do a lot for it. The bone just kind of has to heal itself."
Part of the reason Main's recovering period has taken so long is because the Rangers have been extra-careful with the pitcher, making sure not to aggravate any injuries.
"For the first couple of weeks, they didn't have me do anything," he said. "They didn't want me to aggravate it at all so I kind of just sat around. We slowly worked back into some conditioning and weight lifting and stuff like that."
Main did most of his sitting around during spring training, while his peers were playing and preparing for the 2008 season. The 19-year-old admits that sitting around and watching his teammates be able to play was a bit of a disappointment.
"It was kind of frustrating," Main said. "I wanted to come into spring training with a chance to break in with a team. It was just a setback. Hopefully I can recover from it and get out this summer sometime."
With one of the Rangers' first-round picks from 2007 – right-hander Blake Beavan – already joining Single-A Clinton, many Rangers fans have turned their attention to the upcoming season debuts of Main and Neil Ramirez. Main says the Rangers have not indicated what their plans for him will be when is ready to go.
"Everybody is just kind of waiting and seeing," said the prospect. "Basically I'm on a week-to-week basis on just trying to throw pain-free now. Once we establish that and this thing is all healed up and I get back to the mound, it's just going to be a process of how long it takes me to get back on the mound and feeling good again. They haven't really said anything. It is just based upon when I come back."
During his pro debut last summer, Main made five fairly successful starts for short-season Spokane after appearing five times for the rookie-level Arizona Rangers. With the next step up the organizational ladder being Single-A Clinton, Main still has hope that he can reach that goal this season.
"I wanted to get out to Clinton this year and I still think I have a chance to get out there," he said. "It'll just be a little later than sooner. But my main focus right now is just to get healthy, get on the mound, and finish out the season pretty strong."
Main throwing pain-free
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