Gavin Floyd was back in the White Sox clubhouse Sunday. And for a guy whose arm was covered in so much armor it looked like he was auditioning for the next “Robocop” movie, he was very upbeat.
“I feel good. I’m only allowed to go certain degrees and stuff,” Floyd said, slightly raising the heavily protected right arm. “I’m just enjoying the time every day. I feel pretty strong. It’s a long journey, I know, and take it one step at a time. I’ve got to start rehab on the 17th, so I’m just excited to start the process.”
Floyd is out for the foreseeable future after he went down with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow at the end of April. He had Tommy John surgery in New York last month, and now he’s on the long road to recovery, which could last 14-19 months.
But in the early stages of recovery, Floyd used the word “enjoy” more times than any other in describing how things are going. After an upsetting situation that has knocked him out of this season and potentially much of the next one, Floyd is happy to be around his family and teammates.
“Everybody’s been very supportive,” Floyd said of his teammates. “Some guys that have had it are super encouraging, too. They’ve walked me through some of the steps that I might go through and what to expect, how do you feel, stuff like that. Not everything’s going to be great. From what I hear, the toughest part is the trust of letting it go and the mental part of that.”
Floyd mentioned White Sox reliever Matt Thornton and St. Louis Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright among those experienced with the recovery who have reached out to him to help him through the process, and it’s something he’s thankful for.
“There’s a lot of guys that have had it, so it’s good to see what they’ve gone through and kind of anticipate what’s going to happen,” he said.
The overhanging issue when it comes to Floyd’s recovery, though, is the unfortunate timing of his injury. The right-hander’s contract is up at the end of the 2013 season, and he obviously won’t be pitching between now and the time he hits the free-agent market. Even with his future in question, though, Floyd is focused on just one thing: recovery.
“I’ve got to get healthy first,” Floyd said. “That just goes to hard work, trying to do all the rehab, all the stuff I need to do to get back a healthy Gavin. Once that happens, then we’ll see what happens then.”
His recovery, forefront in his mind, will be an extensive process. He doesn’t want to rush anything, even with the timetable lasting a period of months that is so large it is rarely described in months. He mentioned that former Sox pitcher Jose Contreras had the same procedure and returned in 10 1/2 months, but Floyd doesn’t want to commit to coming back too early. Just picking up a baseball is far enough off as it is.
“Right now, I know that I need to get the range of motion -- the extension, the flexion -- get that back. There’s lots of rotator cuff stuff and forearm stuff, just getting the motions and all that stuff back,” Floyd said. “And then at six months, you start picking up a ball. That’ll probably be an exciting moment, but I’m sure that’ll have it’s own trials and bumps in the road. But that’s six months, five months down the road. I’m just looking forward to New York on the 17th to see the doctor and start my rehab.”
When asked what the toughest part has been so far, Floyd immediately pointed to the first few moments following the injury.
“I think the first couple moments of realizing that you’re done for the year and you can’t help the team out and you can’t throw and that it’s possible that your career could be over, I guess,” he said. “But I think that was just me thinking about the future. That’s really out of my control.”
There will be more tough moments that Floyd will go through as he makes his way back to the mound. And, with his contract situation up in the air, it’s unknown whether his return will take place in a White Sox uniform or not.
But Floyd was nothing if not upbeat Sunday, going from locker to locker and slapping teammates on the shoulders and back. His smile was omnipresent as he talked to the media. It’s obvious to anyone that he’s itching to get back to work, to get back to the mound.
“I just want to come back pain free, come back to play baseball again.”