The outfielder and designated hitter suffered what wound up being a nagging hamstring injury last season that left him out of “the swing of things,” he said. But his hitting coach and manager in Tampa this year say he looks ready for this season.
Amburgey, now not even two weeks into the new season, said his main focus in the offseason and in Spring Training was staying healthy. He worked out often to stay fit and recover from his injury last season.
“I did two-a-days a lot, so probably about four times a week I’d work out twice a day just trying to get my legs right, make sure that [injury] doesn't happen again,” he explained. “And then when I got back over here [to Tampa] in February, just worked with the trainer that I rehabbed with and just made sure everything was right.”
Amburgey, who put on nearly 25 pounds of muscle in the previous offseason, said that he tried to keep his weight down this past offseason while building muscle so that he would be less likely to get injured again.
“I focused on eating right and still keeping the muscle on,” he said. Amburgey added that although he has recovered well physically, “Getting over the mental part of it was the worst part.”
Because last season didn’t go as well as he had hoped, Amburgey, who said that Spring Training was productive this year, is using every opportunity to show the Yankees organization that he still has what it takes to be a successful player and one of the better prospects.
“I wouldn't call it a ‘redo,’ he said of the new season, "but just proving that I still belong. [Spring Training] went better than last year I would say, but [I’m] still working for the ultimate goal: the Major Leagues."
Tampa hitting coach Eric Duncan said it’s important that players stay focused on aspects of their playing and not be distracted by what could happen.
“I love where these guys are at,” Duncan said. “It’s easy to get caught up in looking into the future, but they really need to stay focused on today: the adjustments they need to make today, the improvements they need to make today to keep working on their plan.”
Amburgey has gotten off to a bit of a slow start despite already matching last season's home run total [two], hitting just .180 in his first 13 games. This season, Amburgey said his plan is to concentrate on his hitting.
“[I’m] focusing on getting pitches to hit because these guys are good here, and the pitching is hard,” he said.
Duncan said that he has seen Amburgey, like most players, make many adjustments to his game in order to improve, and that Amburgey, despite the lower average thus far, is making good progress so far.
“He's refining a lot of stuff he's working on, he's progressing as a hitter, he's just maturing as a player overall,” he said. “It’s adjustments on a day-to-day basis, series to series. Day-to-day guys are trying to make adjustments to what the pitchers are doing to them and also what’s going to work for them."
Team manager Jay Bell said Amburgey has a great attitude about this season, which has made Bell’s job as manager “enjoyable.”
“I think health-wise he's been really good," Bell said. "He's staying on top of it, making sure he gets all of his work done so that he can go out there and play a full season,” he said. "With that hard and smart work, if [Amburgey] continues to put forth a great deal of effort, then he's going to do well."
And Amburgey has certainly been putting in effort.
“Trey works as hard as anyone," Duncan said. "He's always one of the first guys in the cage and one of the last guys to leave every day,” Duncan said. “Trey is as ready as anybody for the season.”
Not discouraged by Amburgey's slower start to the new season, Bell keeps in mind that he is still trying to make up for some lost time last season and he still believes that Amburgey will be one of the better players once he shakes off the proverbial rust.
“It’s early in the season so sometimes it takes a little bit of playing time to really get things going," Bell said. ”He's played all three outfield positions and he's hitting right in the middle of our order so he's in the thick of things.”
Duncan agrees with Bell, noting that Amburgey has had some “tough luck” in games so far and that it is still just the beginning of the season.
“Trey’s somebody that has a lot of confidence in himself and we have a lot of confidence in him,” he insisted.
Amburgey, not too concerned about the lower batting average just yet, isn't too worried about numbers right now. In fact, still trying to get back into the swing of things after last season's injury, he said his ideal season this year would be one with no injuries and constant improvement.
“The ultimate goal is to stay healthy and stay on the field; to win, obviously, and just get better each day,” Amburgey said. “Just see where the season takes me.”