Braden Bishop held up his arm and unrolled the sleeve of his collared shirt to show just how gnarly his scar is. It looked like maybe a grizzly bear had clawed all the way down his arm, not the aftermath of forearm surgery after he had been hit by a stray pitch, ending what had been a stellar 2018 season at Double-A Arkansas.
So now the outfielder from Washington has a plate and six screws inside him.
“It sounds a lot more intricate than it actually was,” Bishop said with a laugh. “Recovery was fairly quick, so I was happy with that.”
Bishop was far more thrilled to rebound from what was shaping up to be an ugly season. The 25-year-old outfielder batted .221 in his first 43 games before he went on a tear, batting .347/.409.503 in his final 41 games of the season. He earned the Texas League’s player of the month in June.
The Mariners added Bishop, a 2015 third-round pick, to the 40-man roster to prevent him from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft. He also received the organization’s Dan Wilson minor league community service award, honoring his drive to raise money and find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. His mom, Suzy Bishop, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014.
“Honestly, this was probably one of my toughest years,” Bishop said. “I went from probably the worst player in the minor leagues to the best in a matter of two weeks. It was just tough, mentally. It was a mental grind for me.”
Some thought that Bishop, if healthy, would have been playing for Triple-A Tacoma by August or September, but he took the pitch off his forearm on July 19. It wasn’t hard to envision Bishop earning a September callup, especially after he competed in big league camp at spring training.
Bishop’s slow start was the product of poor fortune. He hit .264 on balls in play in those first 43 games but that average rose to .393 in his final 41. At any rate, he got a big taste of the roller coaster professional baseball can be.
“I think the way I looked at advanced statistics, I realized I wasn’t doing as bad as my average showed I was doing and I was hitting a lot of balls right at people,” Bishop said. “But I did make a couple physical adjustments, too.
“I’m always looking to tinker and that can be good and bad, but when I’m struggling it gives me so many resources to try new things. But at that point I was going so bad that I was trying anything to see if something would click.”