When baseball fans watch Tyler Holt crash into the outfield wall at Canal Park while making a spectacular catch — he seems to do it at least once each homestand — few consider the lingering effects Holt will experience.
“I’m sore every day,” Holt, 24, admitted. “I don’t [start feeling normal] until about spring training — and then it starts all over again.”
But while Holt is well aware that his highlight-reel catches don’t come without a price, history suggests that it might be an even bigger price than even he realizes as one former high-profile Aeros player has painfully proved.
For those who remember 2003, they’re likely to recall a youngster named Grady Sizemore patrolling the outfield and helping to lead the Aeros to their first Eastern League championship.
Back then, a young Sizemore looked a lot like Holt does now — crashing full speed into the outfield wall with reckless abandon while sacrificing his body to rob opponents of hits.
Sizemore swore at the time, and even during his first few years with the Indians, that his all-out style was the only way he knew how to play. Unfortunately, it did come back to haunt him.
Over his eight years in the major leagues counting 2004 when he only played in 43 games after being called up from the minor leagues, Sizemore played just four full seasons for the Tribe.
After that, numerous injuries resulted in multiple surgeries that have plagued Sizemore to the point that he hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since logging 71 games in 2011.
“Luckily for me, [Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez] lets us play,” Holt said. “He understands that who we are is who we are. It’s like when [Washington Nationals phenom Bryce] Harper ran into that fence and people were like ‘hey, you better slow down!’ He was like, ‘I can’t slow down.’ ”
While Holt admits he has no intention of changing his style of play, he does take “preventative measures” in an attempt to save his body in hopes that his professional career lasts longer than Sizemore’s.
“I do a little more stretching, a little more smart weight lifting,” said Holt, who leads the EL with 36 runs scored. “But during the game it’s inevitable; I’m just going to play the way I always do. Play after play at this age, you just kind of get used to it. I’ve been an outfielder since I was a little guy, so I kind of know how to take hits and what to do. Through repetition, it just comes naturally.”
Even though lunging at hard walls comes with plenty of residual pain, don’t expect Rodriguez to try to get Holt to change a thing.
“This is my second year with Holt and I’ve come to expect that out of him,” Rodriguez said. “He’s always running all over the place making catches and crashing into walls. He gets good jumps and he brings a lot of energy.”
Rodriguez believes slowing down could cause more injury to the Aeros’ two-hole hitter whom Baseball America ranks as the Tribe’s top defensive outfielder in its system.
“If you’re preprogrammed to play that way and you try to slow down, you’ll get hurt,” Rodriguez said. “You have to go out there and go all-out.”
But even if Rodriguez suggested Holt ease up a bit on his harmful wall crashing, the veteran skipper knows what would happen.
“He wouldn’t listen to me anyway,” he said.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.