TULSA, Okla. -- It only took pitcher Nick Schmidt seven innings of professional baseball to suffer the first major injury of his entire playing career.
Damaged ligaments in Schmidt's elbow led to season-ending Tommy John surgery.
"I missed a year and half. I hadn't missed a year and a half in my life," explained Schmidt.
"You're just away from the game. You miss the little things. I took the time to catch my breath, I guess you could say."
Talk about a "180" spin.
Schmidt goes from two-time All-American and SEC Pitcher of the Year at Arkansas along with the 23rd overall pick by San Diego in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. And by his third professional appearance of 2007, Schmidt is done for the forseeable future.
Nick said, "[The rehabilitation] was such a mental grind. I couldn't even pick up a baseball for five months."
Once he did, Schmidt's development slowed to a snail's pace. He never made it past the 'Advanced-A' level of the Padres organization and was traded to the Rockies as part of the deal to acquire pitcher Huston Street.
Schmidt is starting this season with Colorado's Double-A affiliate; the Tulsa Drillers. Pitching coach Dave Schuler gave some insight on the situation.
"He's 27 years old and if he get his stuff together in the realms of advancement, [Colorado] is probably going to want to move him along," said Schuler, also the former Rehabilitation Coordinator of the Atlanta Braves organization.
"Having this kind of a second chance would change my attitude on everything that I do."
He admits, "I thought it was one of the biggest setbacks of my life but it turned out to be one of the greatest blessings."
"This gives me a new approach to baseball. When you have something taken away from you, you look at it in a different aspect when you get it back."
This former All-American southpaw says he feels like he did in college for the first time since his 2007 injury. If that is the case, then Tulsa and the Rockies organization could be in for a very pleasant surprise.