Any minor-league baseball club features a figurative revolving door, with players promoted up or down a level based on performance, career trajectory, depth at other levels or plenty of other mysterious reasons.
The Boise Hawks’ door has kept busy with a bounty of prominent players on rehab assignments.
One of the most recent is second baseman Forrest Wall, the 35th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Wall dislocated his left shoulder June 29 in Low-A Asheville, one step above Boise, while sliding back into second base on a pickoff attempt.
The trainer popped it right back in on the field. But he’s spent the past month rebuilding the muscles in his left shoulder before entering his first game for the Hawks on Monday.
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“I’m all the way back,” said Wall, who hit .258 with six home runs in 70 games in Asheville. “I’m playing nine innings (Sunday), and I could be back on a plane to Asheville in a few days, hopefully.”
But before the Rockies return him, or anyone, to where they were when they were injured, they do their due diligence. Hawks manager Frank Gonzales has become more than familiar with Colorado’s return-to-play procedure in his first year as a manager. Colorado has also sent its top overall prospect David Dahl, Max White (its 2012 second-round pick), Tyler Matzek (its home Opening Day starting pitcher) and two Triple-A prospects (Joey Wong and current Hawk Ryan Casteel) to rehab in Boise this summer.
The marching orders from Denver include a specific procedure to work injured players back into game shape. A five-inning appearance is followed by a prescribed off day. A seven-inning appearance comes next, then another day off. The player then plays a full nine before taking yet another day off. Back-to-back nine-inning games mark the final step before the organization re-evaluates if an injured player is ready to move up.
“Every player that is hurt, whether it’s Casteel, or (Wall), or David (Dahl) that’s come through, or Joey Wong, those are things that take time to heal,” Gonzales said. “Not only physically, but mentally you have to trust it to go 100 percent.
“Those guys, they’ll tell you they’re 100 percent. But you can see they’re stilling trying to figure out. ‘Can I go 100 percent at this, at that?’ Different plays have different feels for your body.”
Wall played five innings Monday, seven Wednesday and nine Friday before taking Saturday off. He’ll return for nine innings Sunday but can’t play back-to-back games with a three-day, all-star break coming up.
But the shoulder rehab is nothing new for Wall, whom Baseball America ranked as the Rockies’ No. 7 prospect entering the 2015 season and who bested Toronto’s Jose Bautista during a charity home run derby last spring while in high school.
Wall, 19, tore the labrum in his right shoulder, underwent surgery in 2012 and has rehabbed it ever since. He said he’ll probably continue to work on his right shoulder the rest of his career, so all of the exercises for his dislocated left shoulder were recognizable.
“I’m very familiar with it,” Wall said. “Having gone through it with my right, it’s easier to go through it with my left. It’s just working hard, and everything has gone how we wanted it to go.”
But based on the Hawks’ revolving door this summer, he won’t be the last rehabbing player Gonzales eases back into the lineup.
“There’s a return-to-play program, and you’ve really got to be diligent about following that and having a guy ready to follow him after the fifth or seventh inning,” Gonzales said. “My day planner is pretty filled making sure we know who’s in the lineup.”
HAWKS 5, CANADIANS 4
|Burl III, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||.230|
|Marte, H, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||.306|
|Castro, L, 2B||3||3||3||1||0||0||.217|
One out when winning run scored.
E—Burl III, Guillotte; C.Villarroel, Burcham. DP—Vancouver 1; Boise 1. LOB—Vancouver 9; Boise 7. 2B—Hissey. 3B—Atkinson; Carroll. SB—Heidt; Carroll, Burcham, L.Castro, Leonard. CS—Carroll. PO—Carroll.
|Kraft L, 0-2||11/3||2||1||1||0||2||2.74|
|Villarroel, C H, 1||1||3||3||3||1||2||9.47|
|Black W, 2-2||1||1||0||0||0||3||3.57|
C.Villarroel itched to 3 batters in the 8th. WP—E.Smith, Holmes; C.Villarroel. HBP—L.Castro (by Kraft). T—2:48. A—4,012.