Savannah Sand Gnats’ centerfielder Brandon Nimmo missed a month with first a bruised hand and then a strained glute that kept him out of action from April 29 through May 29. He and I talked about his hand last Wednesday. In the 12 games since his return, the 20-year old has hit .304/.385/.413 with four extra-base knocks, five walks and 16 strikeouts in 12 games.
Nimmo remains one of my favorite interviews. He’s honest, thoughtful and answers questions directly.
TH: How’s your wrist feel?
BN: The wrist is good. It’s pretty much back to 100% when I got the tape on it. So we figured out a way to make it work and play.
(E interviewer. Nimmo had a bruised hand, not wrist, Toby.)
TH: We got two kinds of tape on your hand. Some soft physio tape on the hand and some harder tape on the wrist to keep everything in place, what’s the physio tape on the hand do for you?
BN: The physio-tape on the hand just kinda takes pressure away from the area that it’s sore on my hand and it replaces it in a different area. Just kinda redistributes how I use my wrist. It’s been working out really well. Allowing me to do what I want when I’m hitting. And the other stuff is just to stabilize and keep it where we want it.
TH: Two hits last night. The first one was hit harder than the second one I think – a line drive over the head of the shortstop to left-center on an 0-2 pitch. When you swing, do you feel it?
BN: No, not when I’m at the plate. When I’m at the plate, in a game, there’s not a whole lot else on my mind other than the pitch at hand. I feel it a little bit in the on-deck circle, but other than that, it’s pretty good.
TH: Lets go into that at-bat, 0-2, with a couple of guys on against a lefty. How’d you end up with that basehit?
BN: You know, he just left a curveball up. I stayed inside of it well and whenever you stay inside of the ball, you give yourself a chance. It just happened to work out, and hit a ball hard, and it found a place to fall.
TH: Are you proud of yourself for hitting a left-hander’s curveball in a pitcher’s count?
BN: [laughs] It .. gives you condfidence. I’ve been trying to see more lefties and work on it. I just haven’t seen as many lefties as I have righthanders. That’s just plain, simple fact and I need to face more lefties. Yeah, it was a good feeling – as is every basehit. It felt great to come up in that situation and succeed. Hopefully we can use that as a positive and keep moving forward.
For the year, at the moment, Nimmo is hitting .259/.310/.296 with one double in 29 PA vs. LHP and .330/.431/.459 with 8 XBH in 131 PA vs. RHP.
TH: You ended up missing over a month. When we first talked, you said, “eh maybe a week.” And then the thing kinda dragged and injuries tend to do that. Is this your first time with an injury like that?
BN: Yeah. This is my first time dealing with one of those kind of injuries. For me, it was either, I was really hurt, and had to take off time, and we knew exactly what it was, or it was something that I could play through. This one was different for me. A new experience, a new learning experience. That’s why I’m in the minor leagues. I need to learn what I can play through and what I can’t and how to deal with these and how to deal with 140-game season. Just another reason I’m in the minor leagues and just another learning experience for me.
TH: I assume the reference to when “I was really hurt” goes back to high school when you had knee surgery?
BN: Yeah, exactly. When I was a junior in high school, I tore my ACL and had to have ACL reconstruction. We knew exactly what I needed to do. It was gonna take this long for rehab. And so I had goals to work towards, whereas this one, you just sat around and waited and rested and hoped that something would get better. It was two different experiences for me. Like I said, another learning experience.
TH: When you got back to swinging, did it take you a little bit to get your timing back, both in the cage and then in games?
BN: Definitely. You can’t take a month off and then expect to hop right back in and be just as successful as you were. It did. It took a couple of games to get back into the rhythm of it, the speed of the game. Actually, it happened shorter than I thought it was going to, so I was happy about that. It kinda came back pretty quickly.
TH: First two games back no hits, and then, I think hits in each of the next four. At what point in there were you like, “Oh, I can do this again.”
BN: Well, it was just a gradual progression. Each at-bat I got a little bit more comfortable until I got to the point where it was just reacting and it wasn’t thinking anymore. It was just getting back into that rhythm. It’s kinda like a dance with the pitcher. You just just gotta get back on that rhythm with ‘em. It was gradual. …
I like this metaphor of the batter-pitcher matchup as a dance.