Bat scare has no effect on Colvin's preparation
Freak accident behind him, Cubs outfielder working ahead
CHICAGO -- Tyler Colvin will still use maple bats.
He could change to something else, and it would be understandable. The Cubs outfielder suffered a collapsed lung after the sharp end of a broken maple bat stabbed him in the chest last September. The freak accident prompted plenty of discussion on bat safety.
Many argued the game should ban maple bats to avoid another, possibly more serious, injury. Colvin wanted no part in the discussion. He has two scars to remind him of the incident -- one from where the bat struck him and another from where they had to insert a pump to inflate his lung. He's moved on.
"It's over," he said, matter-of-factly.
During the Cubs Convention, Colvin was asked about the accident. It's something he will probably be asked about the rest of his life.
"It's expected," he said. "I hate that I have to do it, but it happened."
So, let's move on. Colvin finds himself in the same position he was going into Spring Training 2010. The Cubs have four outfielders -- Colvin, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome -- and three spots.
Cubs manager Mike Quade says he'll rotate the quartet in an effort to keep players like Soriano and Byrd fresh.
"Quade will put a lineup up there that'll win, and we'll keep it going," Colvin said.
He did not pout or complain or show the slightest sign that he was upset at the lack of regular playing time. Atlanta's star rookie outfielder, Jason Heyward, made the All-Star team, but he had 255 at-bats by the break; Colvin had 179 at-bats.
In his first full season, Colvin hit .254, and his 20 homers were the fourth highest by a Cubs rookie. Hall of Famer Billy Williams hit 25 homers his rookie year in 1961, Walt Moryn totaled 23 in 1956, and Geovany Soto belted 23 in 2008. Colvin's 20 homers ranked second among NL rookies, trailing Florida's Mike Stanton.
But Colvin's season ended on Sept. 19 because of that maple bat.
The first couple weeks after the incident, Colvin lived at his fiance Molly's home.
"I was a big baby and couldn't do much," he said. "After that, I had to fly to Chicago and they had to clear me for everything, and now I'm working out like nothing happened."
He and Molly were married in early November, and they moved to Arizona after Thanksgiving. This is year No. 2 of "Camp Colvin," the workout program designed by Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss. Last year, Colvin added 25 pounds of muscle. He lost some weight during the season, but by mid-January had almost gained it all back.
"I put it on a little quicker this year," he said. "I'm back at pretty much the same spot I was at last year and ready to go."
How ready? Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo spent a week in Arizona, and he and Colvin got a head start on the 2011 season.
"He's over his injury," Jaramillo said. "That was something that happened, and it's not going to bring him down mentally in any way. He's a mentally tough kid."
Colvin, 25, does have some areas to work on. He did finish with 43 extra-base hits, tied for sixth-most among NL rookies. He batted .315 in the first 59 games, but finished .228 in the final three months. Jaramillo wasn't happy with Colvin's 100 strikeouts last season.
"He has to keep improving and obviously get [better pitch] recognition," Jaramillo said. "That's with the lower half. His power numbers were good, his RBIs were good, his on-base percentage has to be better and his strikeouts have to go down. Generally that's with everybody. Nowadays, guys strike out so much, everybody kind of overlooks it, but I think you need to back up and say, 'Why are you striking out so much? What's the cause of it? Let's have a plan to try to improve that with everybody on the team.'"
So, if you see Colvin, try to keep the bat jokes to a minimum. He was asked to talk about what he saw when the freak accident happened during a seminar at the Cubs Convention.
"I didn't see it," he said.
Which may be the best way to move on.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.