Matt Prendergast's routine has hardly changed. He still comes to the ballpark around 2:15, gets dressed and takes the field with the rest of the pitchers for strength and conditioning drills. He still rehearses bunt coverages, shags fly balls during batting practice and he still attends team meetings.
But when Prendergast's fellow pitchers with the Tri-City Dust Devils begin their throwing programs, Prendergast branches off. The 2000 Oakton High graduate spends about 15 minutes working on his mechanics and then heads into the training room to receive treatment for a case of biceps tendinitis that has disrupted his first season of professional baseball.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander said he had never suffered a mid-season injury. Not in high school, when he led Oakton to its only Virginia AAA baseball championship, winning all three of the team's state tournament games. Not at Virginia Commonwealth, where Prendergast helped the Rams claim two Colonial Athletic Association titles and three NCAA tournament berths, finishing his career with a 24-8 record and the fourth-most wins in school history.
But the day after he made his minor-league debut for Class A Tri-City in Boise, Idaho, pitching two innings of relief in late June, Prendergast's arm felt unusually sore. After the tendinitis was diagnosed, he took a month off and came back for two more relief appearances, but the soreness returned and then intensified.
Prendergast hasn't appeared in a game since July 22, and although he still travels with the Dust Devils, he doesn't expect to pitch again this season.
"It's kind of frustrating, but it's given me time to learn a lot of things and to fine-tune my mechanics," said Prendergast, who was selected in the 21st round of this year's first-year player draft by the Colorado Rockies. "I'm kind of disappointed, but at the same time I know when I get back healthy I'll be that much better. I just hope I can come out there and pitch how I did in college."