Patrick Teale

Daniel Camarena, back in Tampa, is out to prove himself once again.

TAMPA, FL - Despite having to take a year off to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow back in April of 2015, left-hander Daniel Camarena is back and ready to take on the 2016 season. Not only pitching a level lower but in a different role, he says he's out to prove he's completely back and pick up where he left off nearly two years ago.

Camarena spent all of last season rehabbing his pitching arm to make a full recovery, and to help make sure his arm was fully healed before returning to the mound. The experience alone was mentally taxing on the 23-year old, but his overwhelming support both from the Yankees and his family helped him get through a rough offseason.
 
“I don’t think I’ve gone a year in my life since I was three not playing baseball," Camarena said. "So to do that was not only psychically tough because of the rehab, but mentally as well."

During Spring Training this season Camarena worked on improving the fundamentals of his game. According to Camarena there’s so much that goes on during the game that a pitcher needs to be aware of while they are on the mound, and during his time in Spring Training he was working on bringing the basics back to his game.

“Little baby steps before I gotta get back to the transition of pitching and getting my arm in shape to go six or seven innings every five days,” he said.

Camarena, who had last pitched for the Double-A Trenton Thunder back in 2014, has been welcomed to the Tampa Yankees by fellow teammates as well as the coaching staff. Pitching coach Tim Norton believes Camarena is a player who can do it all, and has gotten a lot stronger and healthier during his year-long recovery.

“Cam’s a worker, so he’s constantly working on everything," Norton said. "He’s pretty well put together [too] and he can do a lot for us. He can start, he can come out of the bullpen, he’s a guy who can do it all."
 
During Spring Training Camarena, who has since been shifted to the bullpen, worked a lot on building up the strength of his game. He worked with the team’s strength coaches improving his psychical strength, and making sure everything was healing correctly before he stepped back out onto the mound.

“My lower half definitely got a little stronger, my shoulder got a lot stronger. I got a year of rest out of it so I definitely put some strength into it,” Camarena noted.

Camarena made his first appearance this season against the Lakeland Tigers and had a surprisingly good first game back on the mound, pitching three innings of shutout relief. According to manager Pat Osborn, Camarena looked very polished on the plate. He had a feel for all his pitches, and looked very advanced the other night.
 
The only area coaches and management had to critique his first game performance was his curveball. During his first game back Camarena’s fastball was up from its normal 88-90 mph with high speeds of 90-92 mph, but his curveball seemed to get away from him. According to Norton, Camarena let up a few curveballs up the arm side and did not really finish them off.

“It’s more of maintenance for him, because he’s already pretty polished," Osborn said. "So it’s a matter of him just kinda refining all of that…This is a guy who’s pretty good already so it’s just a matter of staying on top of things."

Camarena made his second appearance this season against the Bradenton Marauders on Monday April 11, relieving James Kaprielian in the 6th inning. Camarena tossed three more innings of relief, this time allowing one run but striking out three more batters.

Building up his arm strength once again, he is perhaps slowly working his way back into the pitching rotation. No concrete plans are laid out for the season as to where Camarena is definitely going to be role-wise, but he has been in this situation before in Charleston and knows that the main goal is to prove himself this season.
   
“It’s about proving to myself and the league that I can do this, that I’m healthy enough to play,” Camarena concluded.


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