Thumbs Up to God! Part 1
This year’s postseason was a little different for me than the 2010 postseason. In 2010, I wasn’t as much a part of the postseason as I was this year. In 2010, I was definitely part of one big game, one of the biggest games of my career. It was really cool to be such a big part of that one situation and that one game. But this time around, I was in almost every game, pitching in very big situations. It felt like I was always there, in the seventh and eighth innings, with the game on the line.
In Game 5 of the Division Series in Cincinnati, I pitched a scoreless seventh and got us out of a jam. I walked up into the dugout because I was going back out for the eighth inning. A line drive came right at me into the dugout. Did you see it? I fell down the dugout steps avoiding the ball, and sprained the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of my thumb. It was a pretty good sprain. I couldn’t throw a curveball! I couldn’t even grip the ball the way I wanted to.
Man! Think about it. We were going to the NLCS and I couldn’t throw a curveball very well. Plus I had to change up my grip on my other two pitches in order to throw without pain. There were even times when I couldn’t play catch because I was in so much pain.
I said, “God, how am I going to do this? I’m in big games. They’re relying on me to pitch!” My thumb hurt so bad every day. Waking up, it hurt so much. I needed a couple of hours of therapy each day, just to get my thumb ready to pitch in these games.
I can remember walking out there for every game and just asking God, “Please. I know I’m asking again, and I know it’s starting to become an every day request, but I need mercy, and I need grace, and I need you to take the pain away from my thumb. I need you to allow me just to focus on executing my pitch.”
And it happened. Every time I went out to pitch, it happened. There would be times when my thumb hurt so bad trying to pitch that I had to stick with pitches that didn’t hurt, and they were the right pitches to throw. And then when my thumb didn’t hurt, I’d throw my curveball, and it was a good curveball. And it was the right pitch to throw! It was as if God knew the pain I was in, but He took it away from me if He needed to, in order to allow me to throw a certain pitch.
So this time around, the postseason was a time of grace. A lot of grace. And mercy. I had a lot of peace out there when I was pitching. I felt like I had really, really strong focus. And I just remember feeling a tremendous amount of mercy. It renewed my sense of what the postseason can be like. This time, God smiled in a different way. More on this next time. See you Wednesday.