A couple of wounded wings last season showed RubberDucks second baseman Mark Mathias exactly what it meant to shoulder the load.

A third-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Mathias was grinding his way through the Indians’ minor league system as a top 15 prospect before a dislocated left shoulder in spring training put him on the shelf in 2017 until May 2.

He played through June 11 before a right shoulder injury got to him and put him back on the mend for another 17 days.

Mathias only played in four more games after that.

“I spent pretty much the whole year on the bench or the DL, so I definitely got a different perspective of a lot of the game,” Mathias said. “It was probably the lowest point of my career. I definitely got to take all of it in and realize how special it is to be able to come out and play every day.”

In 35 games, he batted .212 with a home run and 13 RBI, but learned quite a bit without picking up a bat. He had surgery Aug. 4 and didn’t feel 100 percent until the second week of spring training this year, a span of about seven months, according to Mathias.

The time off showed as he struggled a bit at the beginning. Mathias, 23, stuck with it, however, and has turned things around rather quickly.

“I didn’t feel like I was struggling too much,” Mathias said. “I was hitting the ball hard. I just wasn’t getting hits. I try not to think about struggling too much. That’s when you try to change something or change your mechanics. You have to trust in the process.”

Hitting coach Kevin Howard noticed Mathias’ hips leaking a bit forward, which caused his bat path to drop. He entered Friday on an eight-game hitting streak in which he went 12-for-31 (.387).

As the three-game series against the Bowie Baysox started, Mathias led the team in batting average (.283) with an .864 OPS.

“You have to realize whatever you’re doing, be the same guy,” Mathias said. “You have to be the unconditional player. Depending on whether you’re playing bad or playing good, you have to be the same teammate. Don’t try to do too much when you’re doing bad and don’t try to do too little when you’re doing well. You have to have the same routines.”

The only change has been the routines before games so that he stretches enough to strengthen his rotator cuff.

“He’s been really good all the way around,” Ducks manager Tony Mansolino said. “For a guy coming off that much time away from the game and to perform as well as he has, that’s the biggest thing. It may be not hitting, it may not be fielding; it’s the flow of the game. That’s the key to the whole thing. It’s playing the game the right way and being in the right spot at the right time. Every night, he’s going out and doing that.”

Moves

Pitchers Jordan Milbrath and Luke Eubank have been promoted to Triple-A Columbus. Right-handers Nick Pasquale and Henry Martinez have been added to the RubberDucks’ roster.