Oct 05

Ryan Shealy: Where is he now?

Most ballplayers get the chance to “audition” for new teams when
they’re facing free agency. They can point at their hitting accomplishments as if to say to potential suitors, “Sign me. This is what I can do for you!”

Ryan Shealy didn’t get that chance. Instead, he spent a
chunk of his season on crutches,and only last week was able to go for a run.

Four months ago, Shealy had microfracture surgery in his
left knee. “Basically, they puncture the bone in the knee and try to get you to grow new cartilage,” Shealy said. “I was on crutches for six weeks.”

Now, he says, the knee feels good. It’s time to get back to
baseball. “The plan is to go play winter ball in Mexico, hopefully in December to
show everyone  that I’m healthy and that my knee is fine.”

But who will sign the big first baseman? “I’ll go where I
feel like I have the best opportunity,” Shealy said.  “Maybe that’s Kansas City, maybe that’s elsewhere.”

Opportunity isn’t something that Ryan has seen much in Kansas City since the
Royals traded for him in July of 2006. He made a decent showing in the 2nd half of that season, batting .280/.338/.451 for the big club.

He made the team out of Spring Training in 2007, then got hurt in April and again in June. He spent the rest of that year in Omaha. 

In 2008, Dayton Moore and Co. decided to stash Shealy in Omaha in favor of Ross
Gload. For much of that season, Shealy hit the ball like a lovechild of Ted Williams and Albert Pujols, but the club chose to keep him in Omaha until September. Even down in Triple-A, Shealy’s place in the lineup was not secure once Kila Ka’aihue got promoted from Northwest Arkansas.

Finally, in September, Shealy was brought up to the big club
to show what he could do. He got into 20 games, and hit .301/.354/.603.  Things looked good for Shealy’s future…for a month. Then the club somewhat inexplicably traded for Mike Jacobs and his barely-over-.300 career OBP. Dayton chose to hang on to Shealy, and it was back to Omaha.

And then there was 2009. Shealy hit .345/.454/.425 for the
first month, and then disappeared from the dugout.  “It was sort of a weird season. I played about 20 games, and that was it.”

His knee was hurting, and the Royals sent him to Arizona to work on it.
He was there for about a month and a half, he said, before going to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the microfracture surgery. He’s been rehabbing in Fort Lauderdale ever since, trying to get back in playing shape.

Spending most of the season away from the field makes the transition into free agency a potentially scary thing. “As a player, it’s the first that a team won’t have my rights,” Shealy said. “I’m basically unemployed for the first time in a while, which is kind of scary.”

But Shealy’s impending free agency is not all bad. “In a
sense, it’s kind of good because I feel like I have more control over my career and where I go,” he said. “The last couple years I’ve been at the Royals’ mercy, I had to do whatever they said and go where they said to go.”

If Shealy had his way, the Royals’ first base situation
might have looked different over the last few seasons. “[The Royals] did what they felt was necessary, what they felt was going to help them win,” Shealy said. “With that said, I know that, if I was given the opportunity, that I could produce at that level, too. [Moore] did whatever he thought was best for the team, which he should do, but in my heart I know that if given the chance I could perform.”

It’s not likely Moore
will re-sign Shealy for the 2010 season. Billy Butler has blossomed into an excellent hitter who plays passable defense at the Major League level, and Kila
Ka’aihue is available in Omaha (which is a whole ‘nother subject).

Perhaps he’ll sign with a team who gives him a more ample opportunity
to show what he can do as a Major League first baseman. Perhaps he’ll find a way to avoid the injuries that have clouded his tenure with the Royals. The only thing certain at this point is that Shealy is ready to get back on the field. “I’m feeling good, I’m feeling strong. I’ll be itching to get it going again next year.”

Related posts:

  1. Dear Trey Hillman: the Shealy edition
  2. ORoyals notes: Shealy hurt, Rosa’s weird season, etc.
  3. Royals acquire Ryan Freel

1 comment

  1. Matt

    I really like Ryan Shealy. Maybe getting the opportunity to meet him the past two FanFests have clouded my judgement of him, but even in ’06 I thought he could be a good option at first. It’s unfortunate that the Royals have seemingly given up on him. I’d take him over Jacobs.
    Good luck to him wherever he ends up.

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