Former University of Kentucky standout Andrew Albers, who pitched 81⁄3 innings in his major-league debut last Tuesday, is scheduled to make his second start for the Minnesota Twins on Monday night at home against the Cleveland Indians.
Albers' first start, when he limited the Kansas City Royals to three hits in a 3-0 victory, was made all the more special considering the 27-year-old Canadian had Tommy John surgery in 2009. The rehab, which came less than a year into his professional career with the San Diego Padres, was long and painful.
"Coming back from that was tough," Albers told the Canadian Press. "At one point, to be honest, I didn't even care if I couldn't play baseball again. I was about four months in (to rehab) and I couldn't get the range of motion down with my arm. I was really struggling with that.
"I just wanted to be able to move my arm again. I didn't care about baseball."
But Albers was able to work his back even after a stint playing independent ball in the CanAm League.
"Did I expect to make it to the big leagues after that? Certainly not," Albers said of the rehab. "But you always hold on to hope, right? You hope that it will happen, but you never know."
Albers got his call-up to the majors after going 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts at Triple-A Rochester.
Minneapolis' Target Field is the closest big-league ballpark to his hometown, North Battleford, though it's still far away. Albers told the Canadian Press he wasn't sure how many of those fans will make the trip for his second start.
"I certainly don't expect it, but for those who do make the trip down, it will be great to see them there," Albers said. "It's neat to share that moment with people who you've grown up with and who have meant so much to you.
"Anyone willing to make that trip from home is probably someone that is pretty special in my life and I will be so appreciative of them coming."
Albers was the first Saskatchewan-born player to reach the majors since Terry Puhl, who last played in 1991.
"It's been a long time since there's been someone from Saskatchewan in the major leagues and I hope I can go out there and represent them the way they deserve to be represented," Albers told the Canadian Press. "There are so many people back there working so hard and doing things the right way, and I want to represent that the best I can."
Albers, who told the Canadian Press he isn't taking anything for granted despite his stellar debut, said it all comes back to overcoming the 2009 surgery for him.
"That really puts things in perspective for me," he said. "It makes me very appreciative of the fact that there was a point in my life where all this was almost taken away.
"You like to think you don't take things for granted but you don't know that until it's taken away and that was the case for me. It was really an eye-opening experience and I'm glad I went through that."