September 19, 2010. That’s the last time David Aardsma pitched in a Major League Baseball game. He got the save that day, his 31st of the season, and missed the rest of the season with a mild left oblique strain. That winter he had hip surgery, so he opened the 2011 season on the disabled list, and he was rehabbing in Triple-A when he felt soreness in his right arm.
July 22, 2011. That’s the day Aardsma had Tommy John surgery.
“When I first got hurt in 2010, it was devastating,” he said. “I didn’t really know how to take it. Trying to come back each time, getting close, and having little setbacks. Having other injuries happen. It’s an amazing feeling to be back in here, knowing that very soon, I’ll be back on a mound again.”
February 22, 2012. That’s the day Aardsma signed with the Yankees, and yesterday was the first time he had a spot in their big league clubhouse. He was told that he would be activated today, though it’s anyone’s guess how the Yankees will actually use him. The eighth and ninth innings are spoken for, and it seems more likely that Aardsma is here as a sort of tuneup for next season when he could play a legitimate late-inning role.
“When Joe calls down, or Larry calls, or whoever does it, and my name is called, I’ll be ready,” Aardsma said. “And then I go out there and go pitch. I haven’t faced a big-league hitter in two years, but it’s a matter of, I know my stuff’s been good. It’s been playing really well down in Tampa. I know it’s not the same caliber, but I know my stuff is good. Now it’s just a matter of going out there, getting comfortable, and facing hitters. I’m not expecting to go out there in the toughest situation ever — I don’t think they would do that — but they do want me ready.”
Aardsma had one setback this summer, but he said his arm has felt great ever since he got back on track and back on the minor league mound. It’s been a while since he pitched at this level, but he feels ready. He’s waited long enough.
“It was just throwing (that got the arm ready),” he said. “The idea was that maybe the slider was what started the issues with my arm kinda tightening up each time. That was the worry. But then, once I started throwing sliders, there was no pain, no tightness, nothing. That was the last little hurdle, and then it was a matter of getting out there and getting innings.”
Associated Press photo