Feb. 15, 2011
"They" say that the hardest thing in sports is hitting a fastball. Now, put yourself in the batter's box with a linebacker turned pitcher throwing his 98-miles per hour fastball inches away from you.
"I can touch 98," senior pitcher Josh Osich said.
That's pretty amazing when you consider the left-hander missed all of last season, and in reality about 16 months of baseball, after undergoing "Tommy John" surgery. And, although the ulnar collateral ligament reconstructive surgery is common among pitchers these days it's still one of the last things a player wants to hear.
"I was just coming off my first surgery (arm-related) so it was difficult to hear that I needed Tommy John surgery - I knew it took 12 to 16 months to recover." Osich said. "I was disappointed by the outcome that I couldn't play for that length of time."
Osich didn't disengage from the team during his rehabilitation, in fact if anything it made him even a better player.
"Coach (Nate) Yeskie made me the bullpen coach," Osich said. "I also really studied the game, like a coach would, and I think it's made me a better player.
Osich is excited to test that arm in a real game situation, and he might get that wish when the Beavers open the season this weekend at a tournament hosted by Fresno State.
"In all my years in baseball I'm not sure I've come across someone who has shown as much mental toughness as Josh," Yeskie said. "Through adversity he has been forced to look at things differently. He chose to become a student of the game rather than feel sorry for himself when it would have been easy to retreat mentally. Not once have I heard him say `why me' or `I can't.' He has dealt with his arm injuries with maturity beyond his years and he defines the word `professional.' He is physically gifted and physically developed but neither of them hold a candle to his mind which our pitching staff refers to as the separator. That is where he is the most blessed.
"I'm proud of what he has become for himself and for Beaver baseball. He helps his teammates out every day to see the game differently as he now does and puts them in front of himself. I think that is a reflection of how he was raised. He was raised right by his mom and dad and I have no doubt he will have success no matter what direction his path leads."
To learn more about Osich please read the following Q&A:
EC - Josh Osich
What's it like playing for Coach Casey?
Playing for Coach Casey is awesome; he's an intense guy who makes you come to the park and love every day of baseball. It has been a fun experience.
How much has Nate Yeskie (pitching coach) helped you?
Coach Yeskie has been a great mentor to me; he has taught me about more than just the physical part of the game. He has told me what it will take to get to the next level and to not make the same types of mistakes he made when he was my age.
When did you know you wanted to be a Beaver?
Right after the team won the 2006 national championship.
Describe your recruiting visit?
My first day on campus was when I was a junior when I came on my official visit. It was a beautiful day and that was pretty much it for what I needed to see.
What surprised you about OSU?
There are only about 600 kids in my high school (Bishop Kelly, Boise), so it was a little different coming to a place where there is 20,000 students. I remember thinking Boise has a lot of trees, but this place has A LOT of trees.
What made you decide to major in sociology?
Ultimately I want to be involved with the Secret Service or FBI; I think that would be an interesting occupation. I got interested in this field because I always watched the show Cops.
How important is your scholarship to you?
I don't think I would have been able to come to OSU without one. It's been real helpful to my family.
You were also offered a football scholarship, why did you decide on baseball?
I decided baseball was a better opportunity for me. I miss football, but baseball affords me a better opportunity for the future. As far as football, I really enjoyed playing on Friday nights in high school and sometimes I wish I would have given it a try at the next level, but overall I'm happy with my decision.
How excited are you for the season to start?
I'm really excited. Sitting out last season turned out to be a positive as I was able to learn more about the game - observing it like a coach would. I have a better understanding of the game now, which will make me a better pitcher this season.
How difficult was it for you being unable to play last season?
It was very difficult; I wanted to get out there and compete and help my teammates.
Did you consult anyone before your surgery on what the rehabilitation process would be?
Taylor Starr recently had the injury and he told me what to expect. He told me it was going to be rough. The coaches told me to take my time, don't rush things or I was going to be hurt again.
What's your playing status right now?
I'm ready to go. I'm 100 percent; everything feels good.
What goals do you have for the season?
To do whatever I can to make this team successful and be the best leader I can be.
Does the team pay any attention to what the so-called experts think of this year's team's eighth place prediction in the Pac-10?
Coach (Pat) Casey brings that up to us all the time; he talks about how the team wasn't predicted to do much the national championship years either. We are anxious to show that we are better than our preseason ranking.
When fans come to the ballpark this season, what kind of a team are they going to see?
They are going to see a close team that will be ready to play every game and won't give up.
Describe what it's like to know you have your best stuff on the mound?
When I know I have my best stuff is unreal; you know you can throw it anywhere and nobody is going to touch it. You just try to throw as many strikes as you can, and if they do hit it, you know your defense has you.
When you are on the mound, is pitching more mental or more physical?
It's all mental, because you've worked on your physical part of the game off the field. When you are on the mound you don't think about the physical part, you think that `this guy can hit inside pitches so don't throw it there' or `there's a guy on first base.'
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