Veres an inspiration to others

LAKELAND, Fla. — Sure, Dave Veres is hoping he’ll be an inspiration to other baseball players coming back from injury.

But Veres is also out to set a a positive example for the factory worker contemplating that knee replacement. Or the retired gym teacher wondering whether he’ll still be able to jog every morning with a new hip.

Veres has been there, and he knows that undergoing hip replacement surgery is not the end of the world. Heck, the operation completely changed his life for the better.

Veres, 41, had his left hip replaced a few years ago just so that he could walk without pain and play with his four children. Then he started to throw a bit again, which led to some action in city ball near his home in Denver. A tryout with the Colorado Rockies followed, but Veres hurt his elbow and was shut down for most of last season.

Now, he’s been told he needs to prove that he can stay healthy — which might as well be the Alma mater of pitchers in the Atlantic league. Veres is a new member of the York Revolution’s bullpen and the right-hander threw his first live batting practice session on Wednesday afternoon, mixing in an array of fastballs and splitters.

The 10-year major league veteran didn’t pitch with any pain, and he’s hoping a couple months of strong performances will pave the road back to affiliated ball.

“The technology has come so far and going in I was scared to death,” Veres said of his hip replacement. “But if someone sees I’m pitching on it now, obviously there’s no restriction on it. The every-day worker can do everything they want to do. It’s nice for the guys contemplating the surgery.”

Veres is a strong candidate for the Revolution’s closer spot. He has 95 career saves in the big leagues and said he thrives on late-inning appearances. Also, with Wayne Franklin moving back to the rotation, it appears Veres’ biggest competition for the job will be Nick McCurdy and Aaron Rakers.

“Closing is the best job, if you ask me,” Veres said. “I love doing it. It’s unbelievable, but I want to pitch too. I was closing in Fresno when I was rehabbing (previously), and I had 12 or 13 saves, but I pitched once a week. I need to get healthy and get back on the field.”

There is also another Revolution connection to hip replacement surgery. Manager Chris Hoiles had his left hip replaced and the injury was one that ultimately ended his career. Hoiles said he still experiences some soreness when he throws batting practice, so considering that, it makes Veres comeback even more impressive.

“He’s in really good shape,” Hoiles said. “I think he’s three years removed from surgery and he looks in great condition and great health. Hopefully he can start out really well for us and get back to where he wants to go.”

This and that: Hoiles acknowledged that Keoni De Renne will start the season at shortstop, with Kenny Perez playing third and Jose Enrique Cruz at second. This means that Matt Padgett will probably be used at first, and Kaz Tanaka might find himself as the fourth outfielder. Jason Aspito will likely need to be in the lineup to bring more power… Wayne Franklin will start the Revs’ first scrimmage of spring training against Bridgeport on Thursday. Dan Foli, Landon Jacobsen, Aaron Myette, Matt Trent and Jason Olson will also be available. They are the same players who pitched live batting practice on Tuesday… Hoiles also said he’s leaning toward batting Travis Ezi in the leadoff spot. Ezi really took off last year after his assignment to the Road Warriors. Hoiles said he would think about the rest of York’s lineup this evening.

*Photos by Dispatch photographer Bill Kalina.

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2 Responses

  1. Great stuff, Jeff.

    A few questions:

    Any chance Hoiles is checking Revolution Rumblings for lineup suggestions? That infield combination looks pretty familiar.

    Franklin is in the rotation for certain, now?

    I’ve seen Cruz listed as simply Enrique Cruz on a couple of websites (thebaseballcube.com and baseballreference.com), does he prefer Jose Enrique?

    How does Reid Price look so far?

  2. I have no idea if Hoiles checks this blog. If he does, I have this to say: Chris, I’m enjoying a nice cold Presidente beer right now in your honor. Also, kudos to AtlanticLeagueFans for the accurate prediction on the defensive arrangement. We’ll see how things play out.

    Now down to the other stuff. I haven’t talked to Jose Enrique Cruz yet, but I’m pretty sure he goes by Enrique or his full name, thus, to differentiate himself between his brother (Jose Cruz Jr.) and father (Jose Cruz).

    I talked to Wayne Franklin today, and I’ll have a post on him later this evening. He is definitely starting now and could even start opening day again.

    Reid Price looked OK this afternoon, although I have to say I was more impressed by most of the other guys. Matt Dryer seemed to like hitting off Price. Dryer launched a bomb to right-center off him today.

    Still, 35 pitches in batting practice makes it hard to gage. Let’s see him against real hitters before forming an opinion.

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