The majors leagues are within reach for Myles
Talented outfielder returns from scary shoulder injury with new resolve
Bryson Myles suffered a shoulder injury early in the 2013 season. The setback was frustrating and certainly a diversion, but it led to some soul-searching that may have turned Myles’ season around.
The 24-year-old Texan began the year with the high-A Carolina Mudcats. He encountered a slow start to the season until he suffered a shoulder sublaxation while diving for a ball in centerfield. The incident caused Myles’ shoulder to pop out and pop right back in, sidelining him for five weeks.
Myles said his mental fortitude took a dive when the injury occurred.
“It was just the lowest of the low,” he said. “I really thought my season was over at that point.”
The outfielder said he couldn’t even raise his throwing arm to brush his teeth. His rehab route was similar to that of a pitcher’s, with a heavy focus on tightening up the smaller muscles in the shoulder. Myles, a former football player, said his gridiron background created a focus on the body’s bigger muscles and how much one could bench. Strengthening the smaller muscles taught Myles that his arm could be stronger than ever.
His rehab routine is one that Myles said he now plans to keep for the remainder of his career. The routine left his arm feeling stronger and more accurate than before the injury, but it took some conversations with Mudcats’ manager David Wallace and hitting coach Rouglas Odor to strengthen Myles’ confidence.
“I talked to Wally and got my confidence back up and once I came back from the injury, I felt like I was more prepared to compete every single day,” he said.
He also told himself that he would be more cautious on the field and make more of an effort to avoid injury, but once he returned to the outfield grass, he realized that fear isn’t part of his game.
“I can’t do that,” he said. “I have to go out there and play fearless baseball every single day and trust that I’ve prepared my body for the battle. I can’t be scared of getting injured.”
With his regained sense of confidence and a resilient mindset, Myles’ return to the diamond was certainly memorable. He hit .326 in the month of July, which included a franchise-high 23-game hit streak.
It took Myles 19 games to finally become aware of the hit streak, which he attributed to his relaxed mindset.
“I feel like a couple guys reach a point in the season where they’re just in the zone,” he said. “I really wasn’t thinking about anything. Then once I found out about the streak, that pressure is unlike anything else.”
Myles said he felt a sense of relief when the streak ended, as it loosened some of the pressure to perform. He feels his best baseball comes when he can assist the team, not his own numbers.
“You want to play the game the right way and I didn’t want to just get a hit any type of way if it wasn’t for the benefit of the team,” Myles noted.
Mastering the Carolina League proved tough for Myles, but he figured out a routine that proved beneficial.
“I realized my swing has never been the issue,” he explained. “I have a really good swing, it was my approach. The Carolina League will expose you like no other if you don’t have the proper approach so I really worked on the ability to not just hit the ball to right field, but look to drive the ball to right field.”
Once he had that figured out, Myles said he started focusing on maintaining the same approach everywhere, from the cages, off the tee and during games, which led to more consistent at-bats.
Myles also developed a sense of consistency off the field. From maintaining the same daily routine, with a 9 a.m. alarm and big breakfast, to taking the same number of reps in the batting cage, he learned that mental habits lead to physical stability as well.
“I think that made a world of difference for me just in how my body felt every day,” he explained.
The preparation Myles ensured himself on a day-to-day basis crafted a sense of comfort in the batter’s box.
“I knew that every time I stepped in the box, I had prepared myself the proper way in order to be prepared for whatever situation that came up,” he said. “I didn’t really have to think about anything once the game started because I had mentally and physically prepared myself.”
Mental fortitude is potent in the game of baseball. Myles said his attitude was the foundation for his goal -- improve every day. He realized that if he didn’t continue to get better, there were guys above him, below him, or even right next to him looking to sidestep him.
“My goal isn’t to be the best player on the team or in the league, my goal is to be the best player all-around, to be the best Bryson that I can be so that I can help in the big leagues sometime soon and be able to produce on a day-to-day basis. Once I got that mindset, then it was I had to be better than my opponent every single day in every single aspect of the game,” he said.
Myles saw the highs and lows of professional baseball last season, but the lows seemed to be the learning points that led to the highs in the first place.
“At the beginning of the season I struggled really bad and I kind of reached a low point after I had my shoulder injury,” Myles recalled. “I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing in the game of baseball anymore.”
Now, Myles has regained a sense of purpose and a plan for the future. Ultimately, he hopes his future includes a long stay in Cleveland within the confines of Progressive Field. In just a few short weeks, he’ll spend some time at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario during the Indians’ Winter Development Program.
He’ll stay with the host family he lived with during his time with the Lake County Captains and is expecting to attend the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ Hot Stove event on Jan. 30. The weather, however, will not be so hot to Myles, who said he had to go out and buy a jacket, gloves and hat to prepare for his trip to the north coast. Though the temperature won’t be the same as the 85 degree weather he’s accustomed to in Texas, Myles said he’s looking forward to meeting with fans and getting a taste of life at Progressive Field.
Spring training sits about a month away, but Myles will head to Cleveland before making the trek to Arizona. Last season, he couldn’t even reach for his toothbrush, but with a stronger shoulder and steady routine, he knows that returning to Cleveland won’t be too far out of reach.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.
This guy is one of my favorites, and I don't think its unreasonable to project for a slash line of .295/.365/.455 in 2014. If he can just stay healthy, he has a chance to make it to AAA this year and maybe the ML's by 2015.