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Adenhart content to play 'the hand' he's been dealt

June 01, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

Emotion is a major part of the fiber of sports.The drama, intensity, joy, sorrow, frustration and celebration often weave a tapestry that usually writes a story more than the games themselves. Those feelings give the unique signature to every event.

The event and the emotions aren't always on the field of play. Sometimes, circumstances can cause emotion without the action.

One of those instances happened last weekend when the news came that Williamsport pitcher Nick Adenhart, a top prospect in the upcoming baseball amateur draft, was going to be shelved because of a torn elbow ligament and would require Tommy John surgery to repair it.

With one pitch, the possiblity of being selected as one of the first few players and the validation of being considered one of the best pro prospects in the country in 2004 was suddenly gone.

The emotion was immediate and predictable.

Initially, there was that "sick to your stomach" expression which is usually seen after smelling sour milk.

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Then came the shaking of the head that comes from the disbelief that something like this could possibly happen at this time.

And finally came the saddened, hushed comments of "Why?" "How?" or "Unbelievable."

The amazing part of the whole scenario was that none of this was coming from Adenhart, who had the most to lose.

Fans, scouts and casual observers of Adenhart's progress were in disbelief when they tried to imagine how the Williamsport High School senior could miss out on a dream that was within his grasp. Many couldn't believe the amount of money that broke away from Adenhart after he threw that fateful curveball against South Hagerstown on May 11. And no matter how they felt about Adenhart the person, they felt sorry for Adenhart the athlete, wondering how it could happen.

And in this hurricane of sorrow, Adenhart was the eye.

He calmly spoke of his dilemma. There was no "Why me?" like he was hit with a crowbar across the knee. There weren't any tears of self-pity. There wasn't even a hint of aggravation or dismay.

In fact, Adenhart was philosophical about it all. "I was walking in the forest and got hit by lightning," the 18-year-old said to Duane Gigeous, his stepfather.

In this case, a tragic chain of events may have given Adenhart some peace of mind.

Suddenly, baseball went from a business to being a game again. The pressure of being hounded by baseball scouts had been released. The faucet of nagging questions about his feelings on the upcoming draft was shut off.

He was one of the guys at Williamsport again, having fun playing his final year of high school ball.

Adenhart, with the help of his family, prepared for just such a freak experience - both mentally, physically and practically. He will have his surgery shortly after graduation, then head to the University of North Carolina to rehab his injury before playing again while getting a college education.

Adenhart is more than content with how it all worked out. You get the impression that he is almost happy that the injury made the tough decisions for him.

To be honest, Adenhart loves competition. He loved the rat race to prove he was one of the best up-and-coming players in the country. He loves to play the game and to throw the baseball.

Now, Adenhart is gearing up for a new competition. The one that will come with rehabilitation, going to college and ultimately trying to work himself back to the level he was at before his injury.

And this time, he will do it with more conviction, a tougher resolve and a stronger arm and body. Plus, he won't feel like he missed something in his life by bypassing college.

This won't be the last everyone will hear from Adenhart. He will be back. The question will be if he will reach the pinnacle of his sport that he was enjoying ever again.

And three years from now, when he is eligible for the draft again, Nick Adenhart will be completely happy with his circumstances.

After all, happiness is one of those emotions in sports that usually goes unreported.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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