In 2008, Ryan Strieby had a record-breaking season with the High-A Florida State League. His slugging percentage sky rocketed to .563 and he surpassed the franchise record for home runs with 29.
But just as Strieby was showing progress, he faced an injury that would affect him for years to come — a left wrist injury.
Perseverance got him through the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but Strieby was still not 100 percent from the injury — the numbers confirmed it and the stints on the disabled list were a painful reminder.
When he joined the Mud Hens in 2010 his batting average fell to .245 with just ten home runs in 76 games played.
Last year he played a full season, but Strieby said the injury was always in the forefront of his mind, affecting him physically and mentally.
There is always a turning point, and Strieby's came this season during spring training.
Manager Phil Nevin said he noticed that it seemed like the wrist wasn't even in his mind and he thought it was last year.
"He's able to let that go and the wrist isn't a worry," Nevin said. "You can see him power back, the bat's flying through the zone a little bit."
Not only does Strieby come out and play the physical game of baseball, day in and day out, but he also struggled with the mental game of his wrist — up until now.
"It was tough there for a couple of years but this year it is pretty much all gone and pain free. I really haven't even had to think about it at all, which has been nice," Strieby said. "I really haven't had to do any daily maintenance on it like I have had to the past couple of years, which is a definite positive."
This season he has played every inning of every game said Nevin and he gives him credit for both his physical and mental improvement.
"I think they go hand-in-hand when you have had the injuries he did for a couple of years," Nevin said.
Strieby is satisfied with his development and he said him and his team is off to a good start this year.
"We got a good group of guys here, we've got a lot of talent on this team, a good mix of veteran guys and younger guys," Strieby said. "We had a bit of a rough road trip there but we are 40 games in and 100 to go."
So far this season Strieby has a slugging percentage of .423 and an on-base percentage of .335, but the season is still in its early stages.
"It's a long season, I'm only 110 at-bats in so I feel like I am putting myself in position to build on what I've done and have a really good year," Strieby said.
Now that his wrist is feeling next to normal, let's throw a wrench in things one more time — Prince Fielder.
With the newly acquired first basemen for the Detroit Tigers, Strieby falls another spot lower on the totem pole for ownership. He now sits two spots behind Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers third baseman.
"It's hard to think about that when you have your own things to worry about," Strieby said. "I just come to the ballpark here every day and try to get better."
Despite the addition to the Tigers active roster and the first base position, he said he sees a lot of good things for him in store for the future, but right now he is concentrating on playing well, improving and staying positive.
"I know good things will happen," Strieby said.