Austin Back To Where He Was

Tyler Austin struggled for the better part of a year and a half while dealing with a nagging wrist injury. His numbers in the second half last season began to surge, however, and it was the result of feeling a lot better. He has looked like a completely different player this Spring Training too in comparison to last year and he says he's back to where he was before the injury.

He hit a solid .275 with 20 doubles and nine home runs for Double-A Trenton last season but the difference in his first-half production compared to his second half was quite staggering; he hit just .248 before the All Star break and a robust .336 in the second half.

"You know I thought it went pretty well," he said of his 2014 campaign. "Unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity to go to the playoffs and win a championship but as an individual I thought it went well."

He believes his second half success last year was just the natural progression of his wrist continuing to heal. He was simply getting further away from the injured wrist problems.

"Definitely," Austin concurred. "I started spring off last year and it flared back up but I don't want to blame anything on an injury. It gradually started to feel better though and it's finally gone, knock on wood, and hopefully it doesn't come back."

With the wrist healing better came a more natural confidence too. Perhaps a bit timid in the beginning last season, almost waiting for the wrist pain to pop back up again, the further he got away from the pain the less he thought about the wrist in general.

"I was scared for it to mess up again," he admitted. "I was just playing [in the second half last year], playing the game I know how to play and enjoying every moment of it. It turned out well."

A .336 hitter before injuring his wrist in the beginning of 2013, it's no surprise he hit .336 once he started feeling better again last season. His confidence began to rise once again last season and it sure looked like he carried that swagger with him into big league camp this Spring Training.

"I hope so. I felt good this spring for the most part. I just need to continue to work and stay healthy."

He hit just .222 in 18 big league camp at-bats but all four of his hits went for extra-bases, including three doubles and a home run. He's been impacting the baseball back down in minor league camp too, including hitting a monstrous home run to straightaway centerfield in a game on Saturday.

Austin says the wrist isn't just back to normal, he says the former injury itself is really non-issue at this point.

"It's not even a thought in my mind to be honest with you," he said with the biggest smile. "Sure I know that I've had [the wrist problem] in the past but it's not affecting me in anyway."

No longer rehabbing, he says he can finally focus on improving his overall game and that has him excited heading into the 2015 season.

"I need to improve in every aspect of my game; defensively, especially base running, hitting, recognizing pitches better, just everything. I need to continue developing in everything and get better.

"This season I would love to get back to [stealing bases]. I know I can steal bases. I know I can do that and I don't know what would hold me back from doing that this year."

He says his main goal, however, is to win a championship with whichever team he plays on in 2015. Whether that be Triple-A Scranton or Double-A Trenton remains to be see but what has him excited is feeling he's back to being the player he was before the injury.

"I think so. Health-wise I feel like I'm back to where I was before the injury and I'm excited to see what the season has to bring. Ability-wise I think I am too," he concluded.

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