Shoulder injury won’t stop Tim Leary
Heading into this season, the Park City High School baseball coaches didn’t know where senior Tim Leary would fit.
They were counting on him to be a factor on the mound, sure, but they didn’t know if he would be able to hit well enough to stay in the lineup on days when he wasn’t pitching.
They also didn’t know if he would be able to handle a spot in the infield, or if he’d play the outfield.
"Early in the year, he was a big question mark for us," Park City coach Lou Green said. "I remember having conversation after conversation about, ‘Do you think Leary will hit?’ and ‘Do you think he can play in the infield for us?’"
Then, early in the season, Leary strained his rotator cuff, forcing him to take a break from pitching.
For a couple games he acted as the designated hitter. Then, when sophomore Scott Stokes broke his thumb, Leary settled in at third base.
It’s been so far, so good for the senior, who has flourished in his new role.
"Hitting was never a struggle," he said. "But when I got back in the field, it took a couple games to get used to things and start making the routine plays again."
But, he added, the ball always seems to end up in the hot corner.
"I wasn’t expecting to make a lot of hard throws at the beginning," he said. "But the slow rollers seem to find me all the time, so I have to make that quick throw. I’ve just got to keep strengthening (my shoulder)."
Though Leary hasn’t pitched since his injury, Green hopes to see him back on the mound before the season ends.
"We’re hoping he can jump in on one of those games in the postseason," he said. "I do expect him to pitch again."
But the coaching staff won’t do anything that might cause him to re-injure his shoulder.
"The big thing is we’re trying to keep him healthy to play the field and hit for us," Green said. "That’s where he’s been at his best."
Leary is also stepping into more of a leadership role this season.
"I feel like I need to be a leader all the time," he said. "I think that when you’re older, everyone looks up to you no matter how good or bad you are. There are kids looking up to me and (fellow seniors) Cole (Tan) and Mark (Trevino), so we need to step up and show them that hard work and dedication can take you places."
The three seniors are making an impression on the coaching staff with the qualities they bring to the team.
"Mark is kind of steady-as-you-go and quiet and deliberate," Green said. "Tim and Cole are the sparkplugs."
He added that Leary’s energy is a big plus for the Miners.
"Tim’s a competitor," he said. "He’s got a great motor for the game."
Leary said it’s easy to be a leader and have fun playing baseball when you are with your friends.
"I think we’re the closest baseball team there is," he said. "We all hang out every weekend and go on trips together. It’s fun."
When the season’s over, he added, the Miners will pick up another one of their favorite hobbies.
"Volleyball is a big thing with the baseball team," he said. "We love to play beach volleyball."
But, until then, there’s work left to do on the diamond. Leary and his bat will be a key to Park City’s success down the stretch, as they compete for a Region 10 title.
"He’s hit in the five hole for us pretty much all year long and he’s done a heck of a job," Green said. "He’s been a great middle-of-the-order hitter behind Mark. You’ve got to have someone in that five hole that’s not going to strike out a lot, can run a little bit, puts the ball in play, and puts pressure on the defense."
Park City (15-5 overall, 7-0 in Region 10) is scheduled to be back in action at home this afternoon against Region 10 rival Juan Diego. The Miners defeated Juan Diego 8-6 on Monday afternoon, with Trevino picking up the win in a complete game.
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