That didn’t happen for multiple reasons. He began the year hitting under .160 in 13 games for Eugene and then followed it up by breaking his wrist – ending his season.
Brian Fryer spent the rest of his year in rehab and didn’t have a chance to even lift the wood until the year turned to 2005.
“I went home straight in a cast for four months, took the cast off and rehabbed on my own for the next two and a half months,” Fryer explained. “The last two months of the offseason, got into the gym and worked real hard everyday and got on the field and swung a little bit.”
Usually, the Padres are hesitant with player’s returning from injury. Their philosophy, particularly with prospects who have time to develop, is one laced with hesitancy.
Since Fryer went through a long rehab process, keeping him in extended spring would not have been a surprise.
“I had high hopes of going to Fort Wayne when I entered spring training,” said Fryer. “In the back of my mind because I was injured, I knew that I would probably stay in extended. It worked out and I got a chance to come up (to Lake Elsinore). I just have to make the best of it.”
But spring training was a showcase for Fryer and he proved that the wrist was healthy and his strength was back.
It was a culmination of hard work during the offseason and showing a good handle on the stick. For Fryer, it was a reward for going through the grueling rehab process and the Padres acknowledgement of that work ethic.
“I went to spring training and got over the hump a little bit,” said Fryer. “I hit real well over spring and it felt like I got my swing back a little bit which ended up bringing me here because of that.
“I feel it is ok. Being here a couple of weeks and getting (a few) at bats, you can't really go off of that. You can't expect to go out and go 5-for-5 either. I am trying to make good contact and I will get more AB’s and be satisfied.”
It has been a long road for the outfielder. He suffered through a miserable start to his minor league career and faced a state of depression about his performance and the injury that followed.
“I felt like I was a step behind everyone else,” he said. “I tried to work hard in the offseason. I got back in the gym and tried to put on weight. I tried to fine tune my swing a little bit. I didn’t hit well in Eugene either.”
Fryer got out of the gate with a pinch hit single in his first at bat for the Storm but hasn’t logged many at bats this year. Used sparingly, he has three hits in 25 at bats, a .120 average. He has scored seven runs and two of his three hits have gone for extra bases.
“I feel ok now and hopefully will get in the groove,” Fryer said. “I just need to get a few more AB’s.”
With the Padres showing some faith in his abilities and work ethic, Fryer should get some more chances as the year moves along. What he does with it is up to him.