Williams played eight games last season in the big leagues before being removed defensively in the sixth with a jammed right shoulder suffered sliding back to first base against Detroit. During his brief time in New York, Williams proved to the league that he is a force to be reckoned with, becoming only the 7th Yankee since 1980 to homer as a first major league hit.
Although his experience was cut short after surgery in August, Williams used the opportunities he had in the majors as a learning experience in which he learned a lot about the game and the industry.
“It was great…we were winning a few games, I was playing well, I was having a really good time and learning a lot,” Williams said.
The unfortunate news was that his shoulder would end his short-lived 2015 season and begin an extensive rehab process. It was disappointing to Williams, naturally, but he felt more prepared this time around. Williams had faced a major injury prior to last season in 2012 on his right shoulder.
“[It] took a mental toll, but this time around I was stronger willed and stronger mentally because I’ve been through it one time [before],” Williams said.
Due to his injury Williams did not see a single game during Spring Training, but just being there was more than enough. It wasn’t until Extended Spring Training did we see the twenty-four year old make his first appearance in a year.
“I played one game…it was fine,” Williams said. “I was just excited to be back on the field. Like I said it’s been a year so to be back on the field felt good for me.”
Williams’ stated that his confidence level is at a good point as of now, and the way he’s playing on the field is showing it. Mason went on a six-game hitting streak to finish his rehab time in Tampa, and also was 1 for 3 in his attempts on Friday’s game against the Miracles.
Williams played a total of 11 games for the Tampa Yankees this season as a part of his rehab process in which he made quite the impression of Tampa’s coaching staff. During his time here he had 42 at-bats, 2 runs, and 14 hits.
“Mason looks great,” hitting coach Tommy Slater said. “He’s really swinging the bat well, [and] running around center field really well.”
Mason’s time in Tampa not only helped him get time actually playing in the game which he hasn’t had the chance to do since last season, but he has also made a positive impression on younger teammates. The coaching staff in Tampa knew it would only be a matter of time before Williams went on to the next team in his recovery process, now the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders, but his time spent with Tampa was extremely valuable for the team.
“Obviously we want him to get back up where he needs to be, but he’s been great since he got here,” Slater said. “He’s a great influence on these younger kids, the way he works, the way he watches the game, the way he plays the game.”
Manager Pat Osborn said that his time spent with Tampa was more like a Spring Training for him because it’s really the first time he’s played in over a year. Osborn stated that Williams, who went 3-5 in Scranton's loss on Tuesday, looked “like he’s never skipped a beat, and like he’s been playing all year.”
Williams is just working to get back into top baseball shape, but had major success down in Tampa this season. Producing quality at-bats, swinging the bat well, making hard contact, fighting off tough pitches, and driving the ball according to Osborn.
“He’s swinging the bat really well. The days he’s played centerfield he’s looked like his old self, [but] you have to remember he’s working to get into baseball shape and he’s close,” Osborn concluded.