Just before he started terrorizing the Pacific Coast League, we caught up with
longtime MadFriars.com favorite, first baseman Greg Sain. Despite leading the
Southern League with 28 home runs in 2004, a series of injuries in spring
training and too many guys returning to the level above resulted in Greg's
return to Mobile for the 2005 season.
We caught up with Greg at the last homestand, as with Paul McAnulty, just before he was called up to Portland (we must be a good luck charm for some of these guys).
John Conniff - How has this year been different for you from last year?
Greg Sain - For starters the success of our team has obviously been different, which last year tied for the Southern League championship. Individually, I had a lot more home runs, and the average was about the same. My production was a lot higher, it was just a lot more successful all around.
John Conniff - Not to make excuses, but your shoulder has given you a lot of problems this year, isn't that correct?
Greg Sain - Its not so much that it hurts, but its nerve damage. I'll lose the bat out of my hands and its difficult to finish the way I used too. I've definitely had a tough time finding the same swing as last year.
John Conniff - When did you start to notice the shoulder damage, was it during last year, spring training or during this current season.
Greg Sain - In the off-season. It was about the third week of December, I was doing a core program, probably getting into the best shape of my life in the off-season, and I had just started working out with weights. I woke up one morning with a pain in the back of my scapula area, and I thought it was just a little sore.
I was working a little baseball camp down in Newport Beach that day and couldn't work it out. I couldn't get it lose. I still thought its just a kink, and could work it out in the gym. I tried to curl 35 lbs dumbbells, which is pretty routine for me, and couldn't even budge it with my left arm. I didn't know what was going on, and was finally able to curl a 15 lbs dumbbell. At that time quite a few alarms went off.
The next day, I got a massage, saw a chiropractor, even thought it even could have been related to traffic accident that I had earlier.
Nothing seemed to be working, lifting was shut down, really any type of upper body workout. I went down to San Diego, rehabbed there for two weeks, and not making much progress. Finally, I got an MRI test, they could tell there was some nerve damage, something about the size of a peanut M&M in my shoulder. The shoulder wouldn't stabilize like it normally would. The first week of February, I was rehabbing it--
John Conniff - Rehabbing it meaning what?
Greg Sain - Stretching it out, getting a massage and staying off of the weights. Because of the imbalance it was really screwing up the rest of my body around it, my traps, neck, etc. I didn't really have much of an off season baseball wise, because I was so limited in what I could do.
John Conniff - Is this a similar injury to the ones you had early in your career with the Padres at Eugene?
Greg Sain - That was a torn labrum in my shoulder at Eugene. For this injury, I had two options; they could open my shoulder up, and it would be three months, so I would be starting here about now. I asked what was option B, and it was that I could have cortisone shots and have it drained, and it would shrink the area and cut down the inflammation. I said I would go with that, the doctor said it was a type of solidified cyst from just years of calcium buildup.
John Conniff - Can you see any improvement in it? Is it getting better from earlier in the year?
Greg Sain - Its been to the point where it doesn't feel right all the time. Can I play? Yeah. Am I the same guy? I don't know.
John Conniff - Not to put words in your mouth, but you seem to be saying that you can go out there defensively and can make contact, but can't drive the ball the way you did last year.
Greg Sain - Pretty much. I've had my moments where its felt ok, maybe the inflammation is down, obviously when you don't feel comfortable you start doing other things to compensate and it throws off your game. That has been the biggest battle. I'm not in any pain, so I should be able to play.
John Conniff - What types of factors would go into a decision to have surgery?
Greg Sain - I'm trying to work with the trainer and we‘ll see what the next MRI shows. The cortisone has definitely helped, but you have to be careful with it. If one more shot will take care of it, fine. If its one more shot, and it will be the same in a few months with no improvement, then I would want to get the surgery. I don't want this problem to keep hindering me as long as I'm playing. Also, I don't want to not be in the lineup. You're not going to make it to the big leagues if you're not playing. At this point in my career I'm a returning AA player, I'm 25 and if you don't put up numbers, no one is going to give you a shot.
"We don't want to say its work, because we love doing it, but it's a job." Greg Sain says. In part…