Yes, there is crying in baseball.
Aaron Barrett reminded us Saturday that there's no shame at all in shedding a few tears on the baseball field. The Washington Nationals reliever was overcome by his emotions after throwing a scoreless inning in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
And with good reason.
The 31-year-old right-hander was making his first MLB appearance since Aug. 5, 2015. In his time away, he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and later suffered a gruesome broken arm while throwing a pitch that threatened to end his career.
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Sixteen screws were drilled into Barrett's arm, and numerous seeds of doubt were planted in his head by doctors who feared Barrett could suffer a similar injury if he returned to pitching.
Barrett pushed on anyway, returning to the hill in 2018 after undergoing multiple operations. His comeback was paid off this season as he earned a return trip to the big leagues after a long, excruciating four-year journey.
“You dream about the moment,” Barrett said after the game, courtesy of MLB.com. “You picture the moment, you try to visualize what it's going to be like, and you know whatever moment or whatever happens, it’s unlike anything you envisioned.”
Completing the comeback
Barrett was among the September call ups added to the Nationals roster earlier this week. The emotional moment when he was informed by Harrisburg Senator manager Matt LeCroy went viral, allowing his incredible comeback story to garner the attention it deserves.
Now Barrett has put a stamp on his return after pitching a crucial inning for Washington on Saturday night. He was summoned in the fifth inning to face a red-hot Braves lineup, and responded by retiring three of the four batters he faced. That included a strikeout of All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.
Taking it all in
The Nationals might have lost, but Barrett’s return was bigger than a single game.
“It was just a cool moment to share with my teammates,” Barrett said. “Obviously, the amount of support that I've had from this organization and all the guys in this clubhouse, [it’s] just a moment I'll never forget. That’s when the wave of emotions hit me. It’s just a special feeling.”
The emotions hit manager Dave Martinez as well.
“Man, what a moment,” Martinez said. “He came in, his eyes were watery, and I was trying really hard not to cry in front of him. It was an unbelievable moment. We shared it together, we shared it with the team, and he did great. We got the bugs out, and he did great.”
Barrett won’t have a featured role with Nationals this season. If they make the postseason, he won’t be eligible for their roster. But there’s nothing stopping him from turning heads and earning more opportunities in September.
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