By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It has been a season of overcoming adversity for Lower Moreland High School and Neumann University product Gary Mitchell.
The 24-year-old outfielder/first baseman is playing for the Los Angeles Angels’ Single-A affiliate, the Inland Empire 66ers, out in California. He has appeared in just 13 games this season, missing a big chunk of the campaign to this point due to injury.
“I was actually going for a fly ball during the game,” Mitchell told KYW Newsradio this past Friday. “It was down the line and I was running. I collided with the fence and tore a ligament in my foot. So they sent me down for rehab in Arizona and fixed me up. Took a whole lot longer than I thought, think it was just over nine weeks, but I’m back and ready to go.”
Mitchell played just two games before being shelved by the injury back in early April. Since he has returned, however, he has really hit the ball well. In his last ten games he is batting .382 and he says his work at the plate has been a big focus.
“Since I was hurt, I couldn’t really bat,” Mitchell says. “So I’ve been in the cage every day, early work, just trying to get better at that. Seeing live pitching is definitely a step after not seeing it for nine weeks.”
But Mitchell says his quest to get better goes further than the cage.
“Outfield, first base, trying to get better there,” Mitchell says. “You can always get better. Base running, everywhere. But I would say mostly the hitting aspect, just because of the live pitching that I haven’t seen in nine weeks.”
This is Mitchell’s fourth season as a pro after being drafted by the Angels back in the 21st round in 2010, and he still is getting a huge thrill out of living his dream.
“It’s great,” Mitchell says. “You wake up everyday to play baseball. People come and pay (for) tickets and they come and watch you. You’re doing what you love, you’ve been playing it since you were a little kid, and I really can’t even describe it . . it’s great!”
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.