Henry taking things one day at a time
Jordan Henry is used to life in an Akron Aeros uniform, but he is not used to starting the season in mid-June.
The Akron Aeros’ centerfielder made his 2012 season debut on June 3rd after missing the first few months of the season rehabbing his right knee.
Henry, a 23-year-old whom the Cleveland Indians drafted out of the University of Mississippi during the seventh round in 2009, is in his third year with the Aeros. Henry is a speedy, athletic outfielder who does not hit for much power, but is a threat on the base paths as he swiped a career-high 33 bags last season.
Henry underwent surgery during the offseason to repair a micro-fracture in his knee that started bothering him last season.
“My knee’s always kind of bothered me a little bit,” Henry said. “And towards halfway through the season last year, I felt it just gradually got worse. We wanted to wait until the season was over to get it checked and make sure it wasn’t an issue.”
It took nearly nine months in Arizona to bid his return. Henry said he wasn’t entirely sure what he would be in for when he went under the knife. All he knew was that the doctors planned to go in with a scope to repair any torn tissue.
“It was supposed to be a six-week rehab or so,” Henry said. “But they told me it was a possibility that with a micro-fracture, they might have to do more than that.”
In the end, they did more. Henry said the doctors drilled a hole into the bone that is intended to facilitate the healing of the cartilage.
With the procedure behind him, Henry began the slow and steady rehab process.
“It was a slow process,” he said. “I started out walking on it and walking on the treadmill. Then I started riding on the bike for a long time, then started doing some weights with it, like leg press. Then I finally got to where I could do a light jog outside – that was probably in March. Come spring training, I started going outside and jogging. That was when I was able to get in the cage and hit off the tee. It was just kind of a process – the jogging leading into the sprinting.”
The process seemed to take forever for Henry, but he kept his focus on his comeback.
“This was my first time I’ve ever really been on the DL and out for that long,” Henry said. “It was something new for me. But being [in Arizona], you just have to focus on your rehab and you can’t worry about the season or anything until you come back here and start it.”
Now, Henry is back to playing every day as he continues to work toward consistency. His batting average took a dive as he struggled to play through his problematic knee last season, but he hopes to regain his effectiveness on the base paths. Through ten games with Akron, Henry’s hit .133, but he isn’t too concerned yet as he is still getting back into the swing of things.
Akron Aeros’ manager Chris Tremie isn’t too concerned either.
“It looks like he’s running pretty well,” Tremie noted. “He’s tracked some balls in the outfield as well. It looks like he’s trying to get his timing at the plate a little bit, so I’m sure the more he plays, the more comfortable he’ll feel.”
Tremie feels that Henry’s speed is his greatest asset. Now, he’s just waiting for Henry to find his groove. Henry is working on his plate approach to zero in on pitches and find a way to get on base so he can utilize his speed.
Seeing Henry on base is what Tremie looks forward to the most. “He’s working on keeping good strike zone discipline and working the count,” Tremie said. “He’s working to get on base, his OBP – that comes from having good, solid at-bats and not going out of the zone.”
Henry says he’s still working on finding an approach that suits him, because there is always room for improvement. As a result, adjustments are inevitable.
“I feel like I’m always trying to make an adjustment each game and in practice,” he said. “I just try to find something that works for me and that I feel comfortable with.”
With his injury in the past, Henry’s biggest goal is to stay healthy and put his talents to work.
“I just want to stay healthy throughout the rest of the year and just get better,” he said. “I want to be consistent through each game and be able to go out there every day and give a good effort and help the team out.”
Above all, Henry said he just wants to be 100-percent healthy and find some consistency in his game. Until then, he’s just happy to be back playing ball.
“One day at a time,” he said.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.