Obviously, there is never a good time for an injury in baseball.
But for left-hander Tim Collins, Tommy John surgery in spring training of 2015 meant he had to watch his teammates win the World Series that fall. With Collins out, Franklin Morales was the Royals' left-hander in the bullpen when they beat the Mets in five games.
The next spring, Collins returned to the Royals ... and re-injured his elbow, requiring another Tommy John surgery.
“I’m still young,” Collins told reporters after being told he'd need the surgery again. “I’m 26. Obviously, you don’t want to miss two consecutive years of baseball. A lot can happen in those two years. ...
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“I’m just going to take my rehab one day at a time, and go from there.”
Collins was granted free agency after the 2016 season and signed with the Nationals. He appeared in 18 minor-league games in 2017 and re-signed with Washington ahead of this season.
On Monday night, Collins finally made it back to the big leagues, pitching a scoreless inning with two strikeouts against the Padres.
It was Collins' first time facing major-league hitters since Game 6 of the 2014 World Series when he pitched a scoreless ninth inning and closed out a 10-0 victory over the Giants. Yordano Ventura got the win that night.
"I had put in so much work after having surgery to get to this point," Collins told MLB.com. "It's kind of fighting an uphill battle compared to being completely healthy and young going into that spring training and making the team (in 2011 with the Royals). It was a dream come true making the team out of spring training that year, but this was more just kind of seeing everything come together after two surgeries and years of rehabbing. That was something special that I'll never forget."
The Nationals called up Collins to replace another former Royals reliever, Ryan Madson. Collins, who is 28, thinks he's gained much from the tough times he's faced.
“I would say I’m a better pitcher,” Collins told the Washington Post. “I was more of a thrower before the surgery. I’ve learned a lot about baseball the last three years just watching from my couch, and that’s helped a lot. I’ve been able to play a lot of scenarios in my head, what I would do in that situation. It’s actually kind of a blessing in disguise.”