Rustich Finally Back In Action

Rustich Finally Back In Action

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - One of the more frustrating storylines in the farm system has been the checkered health of Brant Rustich. The hard-throwing right-hander has the stuff to move quickly up the ladder, but a prolonged battle with an arm injury has sidelined Rustich for much of the last three seasons. Now the 2007 second round pick is healthy, back on the mound and ready to contribute.

Brant Rustich is back in regular action after a two-year battle with a stress fracture in this throwing arm. It's been a long road to recovery, but the hard throwing right-hander is ready for the challenge.

"I had it two years in a row now, they've been cautious and tried to find a cause for it. I've worked on getting my arm back in shape and fixing any small mechanical issues," he stated.

Rustich learned as much as he could about his injury in hopes to prevent a reoccurrence. This research on his part continues to pay dividends for him, not only for his recovery, but also for his future on the mound.

"Its something that happens over time, I had some trouble with it right when I signed. It's probably something that began while I was in college and it just progressively got worse as time went on," Rustich continued.

"When I finally got diagnosed in 2008 I had already been pitching on it for two years. Last year about half way through the season I was having the same problems, but they wanted me to be a starter so I was seeing action every four to five days."

"It just got worse from there till I finally told someone that it just didn't feel right. Once they x-rayed it they found it had happened again."

His recovery took a turn for the worse during his second battle with the stress fracture. An unexpected side effect had taken its toll on his bone and prolonged his recovery time.

"They had to do a lot since the bone actually swelled up. I was on a bone density hormone along with some antibiotics. I wasn't deficient in anything, but this helped with the healing. I had a ton of tests done, it wasn't fun," he said.

Rustich is back in action and is doing his part to help a struggling St. Lucie squad find its rhythm again. For the first time in over two years he finally feels healthy and relaxed out on the mound.

"I'm good to go now, I'm back in the relief role now and I'm happy with it," he quoted. "There are some things I know I'll deal with for the rest of my career, but I can still get people out so I'm doing good."

He's learned that taking care of his body after an outing is the most important thing he can do to stay healthy for the rest of his career. After bouncing between starting reliever, Rustich is now entrenched in his bullpen role. His current role has him seeing action on a semi irregular basis, making his post game treatment even more important.

"It's all about recovery after I pitch, the better care I take the better I get. I take real good care of myself, especially my nutrition to keep it from happening again." he discussed. "I'm going to be out of the bullpen from here on out, it's a little different and I have some adjustments to make but I'm ready to go."

When Rustich was asked about his plans for the offseason the pitcher seemed optimistic he'd be seeing some action in the fall in an effort to complete his shortened season.

"I'm having a short season, and hopefully I get some action in winter ball after the season ends. There's been some talk about me getting some action in winter ball, but this all up to (the organization)," Rustich explained.

Rustich has gone through some frustrating times during his recovery. None of them compared to finding out he had reinjured his arm and would have to start the process all over again.

"Having the relapse and the same injury was the worst part of this. It really shook my confidence and made me think I may not ever get over this," Rustich revealed. "It was frustrating, and I'm glad I'm healthy now. I made some mechanical adjustments that should help me prevent anything further from happening."

His recovery wasn't the only issue he faced when getting back into baseball. Rustich found some adversity when he finally got back on the mound, something he wasn't necessarily expecting.

"The hardest part about getting back on the mound was commanding my secondary pitches because live speed compared to practice speed is so much different. I didn't have much game intensity, mostly batting practice kind of stuff," he detailed.

"That adjustment back into playing again has had some bumps, but I'm getting a lot better," he said. "Your off speed pitches have a different release point and that hurts your control."

Once he shook off the rust, Rustich found himself back at home on the mound. This newfound comfort helped him regain his motivation along with his confidence as a pitcher.

"Getting back into action was the best part of this whole thing. It was nice to compete again and it gets your motivation back. When you get hurt over and over you lose your drive. Its very discouraging at times, and seeing the field erases that discouragement and boosts your confidence," Rustich stated.

Now that he's back on the mound he's found a new strategy for helping sped along his progress on the mound as well as helping to prevent any further injuries.

"This year was my first time I've looked at film. I haven't really had to ever work on my mechanics before, but with this injury I had to tweak some things. I think it helped, especially with my timing between my arm and my body," he explained. "I absolutely think the film helped me make some big improvements once I got into game speed."

When an athlete goes through an injury several times they can usually tell if it's beginning to happen to them again. Rustich believes he would be able to tell, but has a difficult hurdle to get over in order to determine if he's feeling normal pain or something worse.

"I really think I'd know if it was happening again, but at the same time I've pitched so much with that pain that I have some residual nerve damage. That may effect how quickly I pick up on it, but I think I'd know which is just normal wear and tear, versus a start to a new stress fracture," he discussed.

Despite all the adversity Rustich remains positive on his future as a major league prospect. He knows he needs to continually get better, and knows it's going to be a tough climb up the major league ladder.

"I just need to keep getting better and get back to the point where I'm only a step away from the big league club and contribute. I want to be in a position to set myself up to really have a great season next year," he finished.

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