A Healthy Mark Rogers Looks Forward To New Season





MARYVALE, Ariz.—Few players in big league camp were happier than Mark Rogers when the calendar turned from last year.

"2012 has to be better than 2011," the 26-year-old righthander said.

Rogers' travails began in spring training a year ago, when he experienced shoulder issues that shut him down. He later came down with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, scuttling his minor league season and leading to surgery on both wrists in August.

After the procedures, Rogers wore casts on both wrists for six weeks, making the simplest of activities challenging.

As if the physical torment weren't bad enough, he also tested positive for a banned stimulant, drawing a 25-game suspension. Rogers, who will have a week remaining on that penalty when the 2012 season begins, said the mistake he made was taking a tainted supplement as he tried everything to get past the wrist issues that left him with a 9.55 ERA at three minor league stops.

"It was obviously my own fault for not knowing exactly what I put into my own body," said Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft out of a Maine high school.

"I was trying different things. I took something that I didn't know what was in it. I was surprised when they told me. I was embarrassed.

"I need to know what I put in my body every day. That's the way it is now and the way it should be."

Rogers overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries in 2007 and 2008 to make it to the majors in September 2010. After a lost year, he feels fully recovered and ready to pitch.

"The difference is night and day," he said. "There was some talk of pitching in the Dominican Republic (over the winter), but I needed to take some time to get past this, then do long toss and get my strength back. So far, so good.

"My shoulder feels great, the best it has felt in a long time. I don't think I'll have any restrictions. It's a far cry from where it was last year this time."

Rogers said he was told that it was rare for someone his age to have bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome but he was genetically predisposed because of other family members having it.

"Anatomically, my wrist and the nerves were different," he said. "They went in there and fixed it, and it was the best thing I could have done."

MICROBREWS

• Catcher Paul Phillips, a non-roster invitee to big league camp, strained his oblique prior to the beginning of exhibition games and is expected to miss an extended period.

• Lefthander Jed Bradley, a first-round pick last June out of Georgia Tech, experienced mild groin soreness in the early days of camp, an issue similar to the one that delayed his debut in the Arizona Fall League.