“Yeah, uh … start small and easy with the fingers and wrist. No elbow work for two weeks.”
She tries to suppress her smile. “So you were listening?”
I laugh at her calling me out. “I’m a fantastic multi-tasker, Rylee.”
She rolls her eyes at me before asking about my pain level. Then she positions my uninjured arm several different ways and takes measurements. Then she tests the strength of both my hands by having me squeeze her hands.
She stares me down. “Don’t hold back on me, Brady,” she says, nodding to my right hand. “I can take it. I need to have a good baseline on both your hands and arms, not just your injured one.”
I squeeze harder with my good hand, but I still hold back a bit. She’s just so small.
“If you underestimate me, it will only hurt your recovery.”
I give her all I’ve got, squeezing hard with my right hand and not being able to squeeze much at all with my left.
“That-a-boy,” she says, finally accepting that I tried my best. But I don’t miss how she has to shake her hand out and flex it a bit and it makes me feel bad.
My eyes automatically drift to the ring finger of her left hand, noticing how it’s free of matrimonial hardware. Not that it matters much, but it reduces the likelihood of hassles. I hate hassles.
She must follow the movement of my eyes because she quickly uses the hand to close her laptop before she gets up and opens the door. “Let’s get started then.”
She leads me out into the main PT room that looks somewhat like a weight room. One of the walls is lined with training tables for patients to lie on. In the middle of the room, there are all kinds of machines including treadmills, stair climbers, and shoulder presses. There are weights and rubber balls of all sizes. There is a wall with carabiners attached to bands of different colors. There are pulleys and levers and switches. You name it, if it exists in the world of rehab, they have it in this state-of-the-art facility. It’s why they send us here.
We do have a rehab facility back home with most of this stuff, but it’s smaller and is for minor injury rehab and day-to-day stuff. As pitchers, we basically rehab every day that we play. But here, they rehab all four Hawks teams, from the single-A team that is based here in Tampa, to the double-and-triple-A teams in Tucson and Las Vegas. Basically, if you’ve been sent here for rehab, it’s mission critical. If you’ve been sent here, all bets are off.
If you’ve been sent here, the odds of getting back in the game are reduced dramatically.
And everyone knows it.
Including Rylee Kennedy.
She directs me to sit in a chair and she pulls up a rolling stool next to me. I look around the room and see a few other people. A guy who looks familiar from when I was here for spring training is working on someone. And a young woman, probably a PT intern or an athletic trainer, is observing them.
Rylee hands me a squishy stress ball and asks me to squeeze it, watching me closely as I wince when I do.
“Does that hurt your elbow or your hand?”
“Both, but mostly my hand.”
“Your elbow pain will decrease a lot this week and next. And while some nerve pain could be present until it regenerates, it will subside – although numbness, tingling and a burning sensation will persist.”
“Wonderful,” I say, squeezing the ball with less intensity than a goddamn baby.
She hands me a resistance hand grip – a device that looks like an oversized clothespin. “Try this.”
As a pitcher, I’m no stranger to this exercise. Some guys will sit around and squeeze these to strengthen their hands whenever they watch television. I take it knowing I won’t even be able to get it to budge.
She covers my injured hand with hers when she takes it back from me. “It’s okay. You’ll get there. This is only day one. I don’t expect you to be able to do all these things.”
She has me flex and extend my wrist which are both very hard to do to any degree. Then after a few more failed attempts at other exercises, she hooks me up to a TENS unit. I’m no stranger to this, either, and she doesn’t have to explain that its purpose is to deliver electrical stimulation above and below the injury to help reduce my pain.
“We’ll do ten minutes today,” she says, opening her laptop to record some notes as the intensity of the stimulation increases to a certain point and then works back down before starting again.
“Are you writing in there that I grip like a girl?”
She laughs. “Don’t flatter yourself, Brady.”
I laugh with her, enjoying her smart-assery while at the same time trying to hide the true depth of my emotional pain.
“I know we didn’t do much today. It will be like that for a few days, but if you want manual therapy, we can do that after the TENS.”
I raise an eyebrow at her suggestively. Manual therapy – it just sounds so filthy.
She rolls her eyes, obviously reading my dirty mind. “Massage, Taylor.”
I don’t let my eyebrows fall.
“Oh, my God, do you want a damn shoulder rub or not?” she asks.
I laugh again. “Yes, Rylee Kennedy, I’d love a shoulder rub.”
The hotel I’m staying in is only a few miles from the training complex. It’s the same one we use when we come in the spring. I’m in a suite with a small kitchen since I’ll be here for Lord knows how long, but at least six to eight weeks. Maybe longer.
I’m the only one from my team who is here now. While that is a good thing for the team – it’s not so good for me. Dylan Buckley, one of our outfielders, was down here for a few months recently after breaking his arm running into the wall while trying to catch a fly ball. Shattered his forearm in three places. He just got back to New York two weeks ago. He seems good to go and he played well last week, but in all honesty, the throwing arm of an outfielder is not as finely tuned as the pitching arm of a starting pitcher.
There are a few other players from the double-and-triple-A teams here in rehab, and of course the entire single-A team pretty much lives here. I’m sure I could find a few of them to hang out with, but it won’t be the same.
I pull on a pair of sweats and very carefully remove my arm from the sling and slip it through the arm of a t-shirt. I guess the best part of being in Florida in October is that it’s pretty nice down here. It’s still beach weather and it never gets too cold, even in the winter. And with nothing to do most hours of the day, I plan on hitting the beach for some bikini-watching.
Tampa is the one place we visit where I don’t have a girl. This was intentional as we are here for long periods of time each spring and I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the same girl for that long. I like it better when we’re in and out of a city in a few days and then we may not go back for months. No hassles. And it’s not enough time for one of them to get attached to me. The last thing I need is for someone to fall for me and to think there is a chance in hell I could ever return those sorts of feelings.
My phone pings, alerting me that my ride is here. Normally I’d run to the complex to get in some exercise, but I’m not allowed to jar the arm for a while, let alone the fact that it hurts like a bitch when it gets bounced around.
I make my way down the elevator and through the lobby. When I get in the car, the driver’s eyes go wide. “You’re Brady Taylor,” he says.
“It appears so.”
He looks at my sling. “Ah, man – tough break. How long will you be out?”
I shrug. “Few months maybe.”
We’ve been told not to discuss our injuries outside of the organization. Jason, the team owner, would kick my ass if I said anything to anyone that would lead them to believe I have anything more than a simple break.
“Damn, the rest of the season? That sucks. I’m a huge Hawks fan. I know I should be a Rays fan and all since I live here, but my cousins Stu and Sammy, they still live in Jersey, where I’m from, and they send me stuff all the time to keep me a Hawks fan.” He pounds his heart. “For life, man. My name’s Lenny.”
“Nice to meet you, Lenny.”
I get out my phone and mess with it so the driver won’t try to make more conversation. But it doesn’t take long to get where we’re going. Although the ride is paid for, I tip him anyway. I’ve never been one to be tight with my money like some – okay, one – of my teammates. Caden is always saving for a rainy day. He thinks that one day he could wake up and this will all be over. I look down at my arm before I get out of the car.
Shit. Maybe he’s right.
I have two years left on a five-year contract. So even if I never make it back, they still have to pay me. But what happens then?
The driver hands me his card. “I’d be glad to drive you wherever you need to go while you’re here, Mr. Taylor. The fewer people who see you injured the better. Especially the bookies.” He laughs. “My uncle is a bookie. But he doesn’t live in Jersey, he lives in Vegas with his new squeeze, Gemma. He dumped Stu and Sammy’s momma a few years ago. It’s okay though, she’s better off without him.”
Lenny talks too much, but he has a point. I take his card. The fewer people I have to deal with, the better. If it got out that I have extensive nerve damage, it could hurt the organization. Hell, I probably shouldn’t even talk to the other guys in rehab about it. They are still wet behind the ears. They don’t understand what it takes and how things work at the elite level. Damn – this could be a very lonely few months.
I walk through the complex, this time not stopping to peek through the fence. I’ll be here for a long time. No need to torture myself unnecessarily.
“Mr. Taylor,” the receptionist greets me when I walk in. “Nice to see you again. I’ll buzz Rylee and let her know you are here.”
“Thank you, uh …”
Ten minutes later, Rylee opens the door and lets through a guy who is wearing a leg brace and using crutches. He raises his chin at me in greeting. I silently greet him as well and then watch Rylee follow him to the main doors to help him out.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com