Serious injuries have been the story of plenty of athlete’s careers. Once suffering through one injury, there’s almost a sense that that athlete will be re-injured or just never be the same.
One such athlete is working to stay, not only on the field, but to stay healthy so he can be an asset to his team. That athlete is redshirt sophomore third baseman Dallas Carroll for the Utah baseball team. Carroll has suffered through a tough stretch of his collegiate baseball career and is now back in the lineup looking to make a difference for the Utes.
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In 2013, Carroll appeared in 28 games for Utah. He was having a good season, hitting .282 at the plate, including three doubles and two triples. Among other statistics, he had 12 RBI’s and reached home plate 15 times himself.
In a game against Arizona in late March, however, Carroll suffered a broken foot, cutting his season short. He was forced out the rest of the year due to the injury.
Upon returning to the diamond for the 2014 season, he went through an offseason in which his twin brother, Dalton – a pitcher for the Utes – said he worked so hard to get his mind and body right again.
“It was tough, especially the first injury with [Dallas’] foot,” Dalton Carroll said. “Knowing how much he worked to get to this position in college baseball. To see him go down, it was tough at that time and I think the second time was even tougher because of how much rehab he had to do to get back into shape and his foot back ready to play.”
However, in the team’s first game of the year against Sacramento State last season, Dallas was run over by an opposing player who was racing to third base in the first inning. He knew something was wrong after the collision, but still managed to finish the inning before being taken to the hospital, as he could barely lift his arm.
“The surgery itself was good,” Dallas Carroll said. “I think everything went fine, everything feels fine now. They ended up putting a plate in and I think nine screws. Everything feels fine and hasn’t really given me any problems.”
Dallas was diagnosed with a broken collarbone and had to go through therapy which lasted from March until June of that year. He said that the main point of therapy was to get the mobility of his arm back while not being afraid to lift his arm and having confidence in his body.
While a lot of people can have reoccurring injuries with a broken collarbone, Dallas said that he eased into his therapy. He didn’t want to move too fast and put the healing bone in jeopardy of another break.
Both of the injuries that Dallas has suffered have been “bizarre accidents” and have caused him to have sudden flashbacks to the injury, but he said that he can’t get caught up on memory and just has to look past it.
Dalton said that not having his brother come hand him the ball at the beginning of the inning was a change for him.
“The toughest for me at least, was watching him go down the second time,” Dalton Carroll said. “Props to him for coming back and playing summer and getting back to where he needed to be so he can be a key part in this team this year.”
Another offseason recovering was upon Dallas and staying in the treatment room more was important to him. Dallas wanted to be healthy and stay healthy for the upcoming 2015 season. Not only did he push himself in the treatment room, he pushed himself in practice so that he could get caught up and up to where he should be.
Dallas said the hardest thing about his recovery was not being able to play with his team. Having to sit there and just resort to watching really took a toll on him and made him realize a bigger picture.
“At any moment, I could be done playing the sport that I grew up [playing] that I love playing,” Dallas Carroll said. “It just gave me a little perspective of the game. I mean, not take it for granted and just work.”
Dalton said it was tough for him to not have his brother traveling with him when he’s out on the road, saying that Dallas still hasn’t been to some of the ballparks that he has and that there are questions of the atmosphere.
Despite his absence on the diamond, Dallas’ teammates have been there for him throughout his career. Dallas said that his team may crack jokes about him somewhat, but they do it in a manner to keep him relaxed and so he doesn’t worry about getting hurt again.
Dallas credits his teammates and coaches for being with him every step of the way through his recovery.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” head coach Bill Kinnerberg said. “All those athletic things that are necessary to be a good baseball player, he has. For us right now, it’s just a pleasure to have him on the field…What a difference it makes having him out on the field.”
As the 2015 season begins, Dallas has had a good start to the season, as he’s batting .355 at plate and has 11 hits on the year. He has also racked up six RBI’s after only eight games.
Dallas said that he hopes that he can help the team make the postseason and place well in Pac-12 conference play, and do it injury-free.
“Compete every pitch, I mean get better every single day,” Dallas said. “Obviously, try to stay on the field every single game. Just doing the little things that I can do to help the team get better and win.”