Cave Coming Back Better?

Cave is ready for the start of Instructs

Jake Cave, last year's sixth round pick, hurt himself in his very first game last season. Fast forward more than a year later and he is still looking to get his first official minor league at-bat, but the good news is he'll back for Instructs and Cave believes he could be [physically] better than ever.

"Basically everything happened last year -- I don't know what happened, it was my very first day of Extended Spring Training [this year] and my very first at-bat, I got a base hit to left field and I was running down to first base and I could barely put any weight on my right leg," Cave recounted.

"It was the same knee that got hurt last year, the broken knee cap. They went and took me to the doctor, gave me an x-ray, and it was still broken.

"By that time they had to send me up to New York and they decided they had to go in and fix it. I ended up getting surgery on my broken knee cap. It made me miss the whole season, which sucks."

A renowned fiery competitor despite not stepping into the batter's box in Pinstripes officially yet, the good news for Cave was they didn't have to drill the knee, they merely had to take out the broken piece.

What made the situation really odd though was just how well he had played in Spring Training this year and he did it while unknowingly playing on a [still] broken knee cap.

"It felt fine to me," he confirmed. "I worked hard in the offseason to get into good shape; I put on a good bit of weight, I ran a lot, and felt great.

"I was running faster and feeling good, and I guess the whole time I was playing on a broken knee. Physically I felt great, it was weird."

Devastated a year ago having to sit out his entire debut season after being drafted, he felt that much worse this year when he learned his official debut would have wait another year.

"I was crushed, it was real bad," he admitted. "It took some getting adjusted to, especially after surgery, you can't do anything.

"It was real bad but once I started back up working out and everything, it's just one of those things where I'm trying to take it as a good thing because right now I'm back up to 205 pounds, I've had a lot of one on one work with the coaches, and I'm here waiting for Instructional League.

"While everybody's gone, there's a couple of guys here like Dellin Betances, a bunch of big guys who need to throw, I'm here to hit against them and I'm doing great now. I'm trying to take it as a positive and a good thing."

He had the surgery a little more than four months ago and resumed baseball activities about six weeks ago. The Yankees offered to let him go home for his rehab but Cave would hear nothing of it -- he wanted to stay at the minor league complex and focus solely on coming back.

"Now it's full speed with everything," he said. "It's been a slow process but I'd rather go in and be 100 percent ready, be good in Spring Training, and come back next year a new man and healthy, hopefully break through and do some good things in Spring Training. Maybe it will be a good thing."

Not only does he have his eyes set solely on participating at Intructs which begin on Wednesday, but he's beyond excited at this point.

"It's crazy, you know most people don't like Instructs but to me this is like my season. I'm actually pretty excited. I want to be here. I'm going to be able to play in games against other teams, I'm excited."

Enthusiastic about showing the Yankee brass he can be the exciting player he proved to be during Spring Training this year, Cave believes he's coming back from the whole ordeal in perhaps the best shape of his life.

"I feel better than 100 percent. It feels great. The speed is getting back. They've got me in physical therapy three days a week and it just crushes me.

"My dad is pretty big [in the] upper body and has small legs. I've always had smaller legs. But to get my back up to full strength in physical therapy, it's just crushing me with the leg presses and squats, so my legs are getting bigger, stronger, the upper body is getting bigger, the ball is popping off of the bat better but at the same time I'm running just as well as I always have.

"Honestly, I feel myself coming back better. I figured I'm just getting the injuries out of the way," he concluded.

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