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Two knee surgeries later, Greenwell aims for return

Two knee surgeries later, Greenwell aims for return
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What a tough year 2011 was for outfielder Bo Greenwell.

While playing for High-A Kinston last season, Greenwell was clipped by a pitch on his left hand during a game in mid-June.  The pitch ended up destroying the bone in his left little (pinky) finger and required reconstructive surgery where he had to have a plate and four screws inserted on top of it to keep it together.

After the surgery Greenwell’s doctor told him that his finger would never be straight again.  The plate and screws were inserted on top of the bone to keep it together since it was crushed into three pieces and mangled badly where it had to be fused back together.

Greenwell spent most of the rest of the season rehabbing from the injury before rejoining his Kinston teammates the last week of the season and in the playoffs. To make up for the missed time, the Indians sent him to the Parallel League in Arizona in the offseason, but in the first week of games in late September he tore the ACL in his left knee while stealing second base.

“Last year was a brutal year for me with the injuries and going back to Kinston as I did not want to repeat that,” Greenwell said in a recent interview for the IPI.  “The hits were unfortunately not falling and it was just one of those years. I am looking to come back this year and prove that I can be at the level people are accustomed to me being at and put myself back on the map because when stuff like this happens it takes you off the board.”

After having surgery last October 20th to repair the ligament in his knee, Greenwell faced a long seven to nine month recovery and rehab from the surgery, but he has gone through it well with no setbacks. He was doing some straight forward running and jogging in March and then moved on to light lateral movement and then some straight forward running. He is at full speed now, but as of a week ago had not yet participated in an extended spring training game.

“I am doing well,” Greenwell said.  “It is just a tedious process doing all of this running and everything. It is a week to week thing and it is coming along well; it is just a slow process unfortunately and you can’t cut any corners.”

It was the second time Greenwell tore the ACL in his left knee as he originally tore and had surgery to repair it his senior year in high school. You rarely hear about a player having two separate incidences where they tear the ACL in the same knee, and because of that the rehab and recovery time is a little longer than it would normally be in order to ensure it is strong enough.

Greenwell, 23, is close to getting back into game action, but after two major surgeries to the same knee, his career hopes have been significantly sidetracked and his future remains very much in question.

“I always tell everyone I have been with the Indians since 2007 and people are like, ‘oh man, six years with the Indians, you are almost a vet!’” Greenwell said.  “Then I stop and say, ‘man, I guess I am not 18 years old anymore.’  It does creep up on you and it has been a fun ride up until this point. The last year with the finger injury and the knee is definitely a year I want to forget though.”

While Greenwell has been in Arizona rehabbing at the Goodyear complex, all of the other full season players have already just finished their second month of the season.

“It [was] tough to see all my buddies [leave] and I can’t do anything as I am stuck on the trainer’s table, but it is what it is,” Greenwell said.  “With injuries like this it is almost tougher mentally on you than the actual injury. Sometimes the way you feel when you are an athlete and you are hurt, you almost feel worthless. It is something you have to battle so you can get out of here as soon as you can.”

So many talented players in the minors have had their careers derailed by injuries. Injuries are unpredictable and often unavoidable, but going forward Greenwell wants to do whatever he can to stay on the field because he knows the opportunity to play professionally can come to an end at any moment.

“That’s what my dad always told me, is that you can’t make the big leagues being on the trainer’s table,” Greenwell said.  “When you get your chances you need to capitalize on them and you have to stay healthy. There is finding that balance between going hard every day and keeping yourself healthy.”

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

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