FREDERICK, Md. - Left-hander Sammy Solis got his work in and did well. It had to feel pretty good after almost two seasons of waiting.
It was his first game since 2011, having recovered from March 2012 Tommy John surgery, and Solis pitched into the third inning of high Single-A Potomac’s game at Frederick. He finished with two innings, three hits, two runs, one earned, one walk and one strikeout.
Solis, who did not factor in the decision, was able to exhale after the game and said it was great to finally get that shot to pitch again.
“It does, it does,” Solis said. “It took me over a year to get back, but I got back today and it felt great.”
Solis admitted he couldn’t help but get excited to return, but that went away once he got that first out.
“Yeah, it did (get me amped up),” Solis said. “But at the same time, once you get past the first pitch and get the jitters out, it is like I have been there the whole year. So, it is not a big deal. I am excited to get back out there and start my next one.”
Potomac manager Brian Daubach understood why Solis was thrilled to pitch again after grinding his way through day after day of rehab in Florida.
“I am sure he was a little nervous,” Daubach said. “It is a long time not being on the mound. It was a good first step. He really pitched in the second inning, first and third, nobody out, to really bear down right there. I am sure he is going to improve with every start.”
Solis got behind his first couple of hitters in the first frame, but managed to induce a flyout and two groundouts, with a run scoring on a fielding error by Adrian Sanchez.
Solis allowed two hits but no runs in the second. His best matchup was getting the Keys’ leadoff hitter, Sammie Starr, to strike out on three called strikes after starting 3-0.
He walked Jerome Pena to begin the third, and that was it. Solis finished with 46 pitches, 27 for strikes. Solis left with Potomac leading 4-2. The P-Nats eventually won the game 6-5 in 10 innings.
“The hardest thing is off-speed, the feel pitches,” Solis said. “Those are the last things to come. It is finally start to come around. But the fastball is good, the velo is there, so it can only go up from here.”
Solis was able to get his fastball around 92 to 94 mph, a good velocity for his first pro game since Tommy John, especially considering how amped up he had to be.
“The fastball is there, the location can get up at times, just because my arm tightens up a little more than it used to,” Solis said. “But the curveball and the changeup are the hardest things to throw right now because you need a little more extension. With Tommy John, that is a little harder. I am still working on it, it is coming around, I would say, 60 to 70 percent of the time it is there. So, just a little more (work.)”
Daubach said that it is never easy to have to go through Tommy John rehab, a span of 14 1/2 months since surgery, and then deliver like you used to.
“This was a big step for a kid to go through the whole rehab process, get back on the mound and under the lights,” Daubach said. “It was a very positive first step.”