Weglarz Making Progress After Surgery





CLEVELAND—While Akron celebrated its the Double-A Eastern League championship title in September, left fielder Nick Welgarz was relegated to the bench with a left leg injury, originally diagnosed in August as a mere shin splint but soon upgraded to a stress fracture.

When traditional rehab didn't cure the problem, the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder had surgery Nov. 7 to have a rod inserted into his leg to help correct the stress fracture.

The severity of the injury helps better explain what happened to Weglarz's production late last season. After a slow start, Weglarz hit a red hot .329/.431/.624 with six home runs in May followed by .281/.434/.573 with five more homers in June.

Some time later, Weglarz felt something weird in his left leg. Initially trying to play through the pain, he limped toward the end of the season, finishing at .227/.377/.431.

Appearing with a handful of Cleveland's top prospects in early January at the Indians winter developmental program, Weglarz, 22, said his leg is finally healed and he feels good about his progress on his rehab program.

"I feel like I am 100 percent to go," said Weglarz, a third-round pick in 2005 out of high school in Ontario, Canada. "It's still tight a little bit, but I think I'm making strides. Mechanically, I have been working on a couple things, ironing out my swing and I think it's going pretty well."

Prior to the leg injury, Weglarz also had right hand surgery in 2006. So this time around he had a pretty good idea what he was in store for come rehab.

"(I've learned) to respect baseball and never take it for granted," Weglarz said. "You don't realize that until you are on the shelf not playing and you gotta watch your teammates go out there having fun playing the game they love."
Indians farm director Ross Atkins said the club feels good about the decision to opt for surgery.

"(We thought) this is the plan, so let's go forward with this procedure now so you will be good from day one of spring training," Atkins said. "He's very much on pace to be ready to go."

SMOKE SIGNALS

• The Indians unearthed another middle infield option when they traded third baseman Jesus Brito to the Pirates in exchange for 27-year-old utility man Brian Bixler.

• The Indians signed 30-year-old right fielder Shelley Duncan, who led the Triple-A International League with 30 home runs last year, to a minor league contract.