By Joe Bush
August 21, 2002
Kane County first baseman Jason Stokes played his 97th and final game of the
2002 season Monday and will soon undergo wrist surgery.
Stokes, who is in line to be the Midwest League champ in
batting, home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, played most
of the year with a cyst in his left wrist. He ended the season hitting .341-27-75 in 349 at-bats.
Scheduled to have surgery on the wrist at season's end, Stokes had been playing
until the pain was too great, then sit for a few days. That cycle continued
until recently, when he reluctantly admitted the rest periods were having
less and less effect. After Stokes visited with the Cubs' hand specialist,
the Marlins decided to move up the surgery to improve Stokes' chance to be
100 percent by spring training.
"The injury wasn't getting worse, but he was having more pain, and there
wasn't so much time in between that it was feeling good," said Florida
scouting and farm director Jim Fleming.
Still, the season was a success. After signing for $2.027 million late in
2000, Stokes rarely played in 2001 because of back and hamstring injuries. He
moved back to first base after a 2001 left field experiment, and impressed
the Marlins brass with his fielding.
Stokes played in the Futures Game, set the Kane County home-run mark and displayed an all-field ability,
which had him atop the MWL batting race for most of the year. All this with
minimal batting practice and periodic interruptions in play.
"He did everything we expected and more," Fleming said. "He played with a
lot of pain. He was a real trooper."