Patterson Growing Mentally Strong

Passive observers of minor league baseball will often point out that a prospect who misses the majority of a season with injuries had a 'lost year' in his development. But as Garrett Patterson learned this past season, there's a lot more to the game than the physical side.

Garrett Patterson has a world of talent. A left-handed hurler, he can bring his fastball in the high-90's at times, which is something seldom found around baseball. But tagged with the injury bug in his amateur days, Patterson caught it once again this past season.

"Obviously I can't say it was a successful year for the simple fact that I hurt my hamstring, came back from it and started throwing well, then I hurt my knee pretty bad," Patterson told PinstripesPlus.com at Instructs. "Even though I didn't throw a lot, I felt I got better, mentally for one. I think the injuries that happened will make me stronger in the end. The other things that will happen will be easier to deal with."

Once the recipient of two separate elbow surgeries in college, the University of Oklahoma product actually missed significant time at the beginning of the season with blister problems before the leg injuries.

"I had blisters coming out of Spring Training," said Patterson. "It's a problem that I've had forever. Sometimes it's from cutting my finger-nail too short or something. Even if I don't cut it too short, sometimes I still get blisters and I can't ever get them to callous up and get hard, and that caused me to miss the first month or so in Charleston."

"So health-wise, it hasn't been the best year," he continued. "It was good though that my arm felt good the whole year, even though my legs didn't feel good, so that was a positive....my arm's healthy."

It isn't easy sometimes finding the positives in the face of so many negatives, but Patterson had no choice but to accept them, a lesson every big league prospect must learn en route to the Majors.

Baseball is a game of failures and the sooner one learns how to deal with failure, the quicker they can make adjustments and persevere.

"I just learned a lot with Scott Aldred, our pitching coach in Charleston," said the 24-year old. "He's a great guy and I learned a lot from him, sitting there, watching, and learning from the other guys pitch. I didn't really have a choice to do anything but that."

It's not as if Garrett Patterson didn't pitch at all. He did make 14 appearances with the Riverdogs, going 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA. And while the numbers weren't great [37 walks in 50 innings] in his brief stint in Charleston, Patterson believes real progress was being made.

"Even though my numbers don't show it a whole lot, I had better command of the zone, not really through more strikes but I threw the ball a lot closer to the plate than I had in the past," he revealed. "I worked a lot with Gil Patterson coming out of Spring Training. He really helped me a lot going into Charleston. I was really more around the zone than I ever had been."

One of the significant developments in his game this past season was the progression of his developing changeup. It can be a very good pitch for him at times and he learned to be more consistent with it and use it more in games this past season.

"I would say my changeup probably got better this year," said Patterson. "I haven't had to use it a lot in the past because I throw hard. I was able to get by with my fastball and curveball. I've had to learn to use my changeup a lot more and it has gotten a lot better. It got me some key outs this year. Even though I didn't throw a lot, when I did, I made some good strides with it."

Finally healthy now, Patterson is working out at the minor league complex in Tampa during Instructs. While the Yankees are not going to risk further injury by putting him in games, he is throwing bullpens on the side to help make up for lost time.

"I'm just trying to get my fastball command down," Patterson listed as his number one objective during Instructs. "That's my main thing, getting strike one with my fastball command. I'm working on my mechanics a little bit. They're getting better, they're getting where they need to be. I'm also learning the stuff I need to do this offseason so I can come back next year, and hopefully next year will be my year."

With all eyes towards 2007, Patterson and the Yankees will look for a healthy year and he'll be working hard this offseason to get himself ready.

"Basically I just want to get my legs as strong as I can, so hopefully the stuff that happened this year won't happen next year," said the southpaw. "My arm feels good. I just want to keep it in shape and keep it healthy."

Now 24-years old, and with the checkered injury history he has, it would seem quite logical to move the fire-baller to the bullpen. While that might be his ultimate destination, Patterson isn't sure the move will be coming anytime soon.

"I don't know, they haven't said anything to me about going to the bullpen," Patterson admitted. "But if that's where they want me to go, that's where I'll go. I want to go wherever they want me to go. I feel like my arm's good enough to go out of the 'pen, come back the next day and do it again. So if the pen is where they want me to go, I definitely don't have a problem with it."

"I think one of the main reasons I'm still a starter - whether or not they want me there down the road, I don't know - is to just get the innings since I was hurt in college. Once I get innings, they'll go from there."

Accentuating the positives and learning to deal with the negatives of so many injuries have made Garrett Patterson a lot stronger mentally, an aspect of the game he believes he overlooked prior to this past season.

"I wouldn't say it was a lost year for what I gained mentally," an adamant Patterson told us. "What I've found out since I've been here with the Yankees is that there's not near as much - of course a lot of it is physical - but there's way more to the mental game than I thought."

"I learned a lot, grew a lot mentally, learned how to deal with it better, didn't get my head down, did my rehab good everyday, and was in there in the trainer's room trying to get better. I wouldn't say it's a lost year. I gained something mentally which will hopefully help me in the end."

Living the motto 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', Patterson believes his array of injuries in 2006 will allow him to mentally overcome any obstacle thrown at him in the future.

"I have had lots of injuries [in the past], in college, here, whatever. I think the stuff that happened to my arm and making it through two surgeries on my elbow is why I'm still here. If I can get through that, I can get through anything. I can get through a torn MCL or a pulled hamstring. The arm problems helped me a lot to deal with these other problems even though I was like, 'why does this have to happen to me'."

"These weren't really things that I could have prevented from happening, said Patterson. "They were just kind of freak accidents and just happened. There wasn't a lot I could have done about it but rehabbing, trying to get healthy, and come back strong next year."

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nGarrett Patterson has a world of talent. A left-handed hurler, he can bring his fastball in the high-90's at times, which is something seldom found around baseball. But tagged with the injury bug in his amateur days, Patterson caught it once again this past season.
\r\n
\r\n\"Obviously I can't say it was a successful year for the simple fact that I hurt my hamstring, came back from it and started throwing well, then I hurt my knee pretty bad,\" Patterson told PinstripesPlus.com at Instructs. \"Even though I didn't throw a lot, I felt I got better, mentally for one. I think the injuries that happened will make me stronger in the end. The other things that will happen will be easier to deal with.\"
\r\n
\r\nOnce the recipient of two separate elbow surgeries in college, the University of Oklahoma product actually missed significant time at the beginning of the season with blister problems before the leg injuries.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had blisters coming out of Spring Training,\" said Patterson. \"It's a problem that I've had forever. Sometimes it's from cutting my finger-nail too short or something. Even if I don't cut it too short, sometimes I still get blisters and I can't ever get them to callous up and get hard, and that caused me to miss the first month or so in Charleston.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"So health-wise, it hasn't been the best year,\" he continued. \"It was good though that my arm felt good the whole year, even though my legs didn't feel good, so that was a positive....my arm's healthy.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt isn't easy sometimes finding the positives in the face of so many negatives, but Patterson had no choice but to accept them, a lesson every big league prospect must learn en route to the Majors.
\r\n
\r\nBaseball is a game of failures and the sooner one learns how to deal with failure, the quicker they can make adjustments and persevere.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just learned a lot with Scott Aldred, our pitching coach in Charleston,\" said the 24-year old. \"He's a great guy and I learned a lot from him, sitting there, watching, and learning from the other guys pitch. I didn't really have a choice to do anything but that.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's not as if Garrett Patterson didn't pitch at all. He did make 14 appearances with the Riverdogs, going 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA. And while the numbers weren't great [37 walks in 50 innings] in his brief stint in Charleston, Patterson believes real progress was being made.
\r\n
\r\n\"Even though my numbers don't show it a whole lot, I had better command of the zone, not really through more strikes but I threw the ball a lot closer to the plate than I had in the past,\" he revealed. \"I worked a lot with Gil Patterson coming out of Spring Training. He really helped me a lot going into Charleston. I was really more around the zone than I ever had been.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the significant developments in his game this past season was the progression of his developing changeup. It can be a very good pitch for him at times and he learned to be more consistent with it and use it more in games this past season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would say my changeup probably got better this year,\" said Patterson. \"I haven't had to use it a lot in the past because I throw hard. I was able to get by with my fastball and curveball. I've had to learn to use my changeup a lot more and it has gotten a lot better. It got me some key outs this year. Even though I didn't throw a lot, when I did, I made some good strides with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nFinally healthy now, Patterson is working out at the minor league complex in Tampa during Instructs. While the Yankees are not going to risk further injury by putting him in games, he is throwing bullpens on the side to help make up for lost time.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just trying to get my fastball command down,\" Patterson listed as his number one objective during Instructs. \"That's my main thing, getting strike one with my fastball command. I'm working on my mechanics a little bit. They're getting better, they're getting where they need to be. I'm also learning the stuff I need to do this offseason so I can come back next year, and hopefully next year will be my year.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith all eyes towards 2007, Patterson and the Yankees will look for a healthy year and he'll be working hard this offseason to get himself ready.
\r\n
\r\n\"Basically I just want to get my legs as strong as I can, so hopefully the stuff that happened this year won't happen next year,\" said the southpaw. \"My arm feels good. I just want to keep it in shape and keep it healthy.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow 24-years old, and with the checkered injury history he has, it would seem quite logical to move the fire-baller to the bullpen. While that might be his ultimate destination, Patterson isn't sure the move will be coming anytime soon.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know, they haven't said anything to me about going to the bullpen,\" Patterson admitted. \"But if that's where they want me to go, that's where I'll go. I want to go wherever they want me to go. I feel like my arm's good enough to go out of the 'pen, come back the next day and do it again. So if the pen is where they want me to go, I definitely don't have a problem with it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think one of the main reasons I'm still a starter - whether or not they want me there down the road, I don't know - is to just get the innings since I was hurt in college. Once I get innings, they'll go from there.\"
\r\n
\r\nAccentuating the positives and learning to deal with the negatives of so many injuries have made Garrett Patterson a lot stronger mentally, an aspect of the game he believes he overlooked prior to this past season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wouldn't say it was a lost year for what I gained mentally,\" an adamant Patterson told us. \"What I've found out since I've been here with the Yankees is that there's not near as much - of course a lot of it is physical - but there's way more to the mental game than I thought.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I learned a lot, grew a lot mentally, learned how to deal with it better, didn't get my head down, did my rehab good everyday, and was in there in the trainer's room trying to get better. I wouldn't say it's a lost year. I gained something mentally which will hopefully help me in the end.\"
\r\n
\r\nLiving the motto 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', Patterson believes his array of injuries in 2006 will allow him to mentally overcome any obstacle thrown at him in the future.
\r\n
\r\n\"I have had lots of injuries [in the past], in college, here, whatever. I think the stuff that happened to my arm and making it through two surgeries on my elbow is why I'm still here. If I can get through that, I can get through anything. I can get through a torn MCL or a pulled hamstring. The arm problems helped me a lot to deal with these other problems even though I was like, 'why does this have to happen to me'.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"These weren't really things that I could have prevented from happening, said Patterson. \"They were just kind of freak accidents and just happened. There wasn't a lot I could have done about it but rehabbing, trying to get healthy, and come back strong next year.\"
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