In mid-May, Logan Shore found himself in an unfamiliar position – sidelined with an injury. After the first disabled list stint of his career, Shore is ready to return to the High-A Stockton Ports’ rotation and resume a season that got off to a promising start.
On May 9, Shore went into Lake Elsinore and threw five hitless innings to lower his season ERA to 2.37 through 30.1 innings. With a 32:5 K:BB, Shore looked like a candidate to make an early-season move to Double-A. Unfortunately, Shore would run into the first obstacle of his 2017 season in his next outing. Pitching in the dreaded The Hangar ballpark in Lancaster, Shore allowed a season-high four runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings. A few days later, he was sidelined with a lat strain. The injury kept Shore on the shelf until July 5, when he would make the first of three rehab appearances for the Arizona Rookie League A’s. On Friday, Shore will take the mound for the Ports for the first time since May 14.
Shore is happy to be back in the California League, but he says that his rehab period was a positive one.
“I have never been hurt before, never been on the DL. Not in college and not in pro ball, so it was a little bit different gameplan just trying to get healthy instead of being out there and competing,” Shore said on Thursday. “But Travis [Tims, A’s minor league rehab coordinator] and Lefty [Craig Lefferts, A’s minor league pitching rehab coordinator] and all of the training staff out there [in Arizona], as well as A.J. [Seeliger], the strength and conditioning coach, did a phenomenal job working with me. It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of guys there. Daulton [Jefferies] is one of my best friends and he’s obviously there rehabbing from Tommy John. [Daniel] Mengden was back there. A lot of those guys, so it was good. We had a lot of fun and got our work in.”
Shore says he took three weeks off from throwing after the injury and it took a little bit to feel normal on the mound again once he was cleared medically.
“It was weird to get back into throwing again after not throwing for so long. I had never been hurt, so it was a little bit of an eerie feeling,” Shore said. “Once you get it back and realize ‘I’m good, I’m healthy, I feel strong,’ it was a pretty good feeling.”
Shore threw two innings in his first AZL outing and three innings in each of his next two appearances. He says he’s slated to go four innings or 65 pitches on Friday, and then he and the Ports’ coaching staff will assess where he stands for his next start. In eight innings in the AZL, Shore allowed just two hits. He didn’t walk a batter and he struck-out 13.
Ports’ manager Rick Magnante says his goal for Shore the rest of the season is simple.
“More than anything, I just hope that Logan is able to come back, reach his innings / pitch count and stay healthy for the rest of the year,” Magnante said. “Hopefully this injury is behind him and he can go forward with a clear mind that everything is going to be okay for him in the future as he continues.”
Before Shore sustained the lat injury, he says he felt confident in all of his offerings, but that his fastball command was particularly sharp in the early part of the season.
“I think I had thrown more fastballs consistently percentage-wise than any other time in my career,” Shore said. “That was really working and my change-up is always my go-to.”
When Shore came to the A’s in the second round last season, he arrived with a reputation for being the most polished college starter in the draft. In three seasons with the Florida Gators, Shore went 30-11 with a 2.42 ERA and a 248:63 K:BB in 313 innings. Unlike his college teammate and fellow 2016 A’s draft pick A.J. Puk, Shore wasn’t known for his velocity. However, this season Shore has thrown harder than he did at Florida.
“Some games I was 92-94 and some games I was 90-93, but I kind of settled in that 92ish range, which is probably two miles per hour harder than I was throwing last year on an average scale,” Shore said. “That feels good. I got that back. I think in my three rehab starts in Arizona, I was 92-94 all three times. Hopefully, I’ll just keep that going and stay healthy.”
Although he has missed the last two months in the Cal League, Shore got a good feel for the league and its offense-friendly ballparks during the first six weeks of the season.
“Really the only ballpark that really changed the outcome of the game was Lancaster. That’s ridiculous, but everywhere else I felt like if you just made pitches and executed, you’d do okay,” Shore said. “There might be some wind-blown homeruns that wouldn’t be in other ballparks, and that sort of stuff, but I think really focusing on sticking to your gameplan and not trying to do too much and filling up the ‘zone and putting the hitter on the defensive, that’s what’s going to get you outs and get you more success than trying adjust your gameplan for the ballpark.”
Shore and Puk began the season in the Ports’ rotation together, but while Shore was rehabbing his injury, Puk moved up to the Texas League. A significant portion of the Ports’ roster has changed since Shore went on the DL, but he says there are still plenty of familiar faces.
“Me and [Puk] feed off of each other. He knows me better than anybody. It’s always good having your best friend from college be on your pro team, as well,” Shore said. “Dalton Sawyer is here now and me and him go way back from high school in Minnesota. It’s good to be back and a lot of the guys are still here from when I left. It’s good seeing some familiar faces.”
While Shore was sidelined, he got the opportunity to watch his Gators win the College World Series for the first time in program history. Shore and the Gators made it to Omaha the last two seasons but fell short of a title. Shore took great pleasure in watching his alma mater win it all.
“Extremely proud. I think if you asked anyone who had been on those teams with me the past couple of years, they’d say the same thing,” Shore said. “It’s really cool, especially being our first College World Series title in the history of the program. For that to happen, obviously I wish I could have been there and been a part of that, but I’m an extremely proud alum and I’m happy for Sully [Gators’ head coach Kevin O’Sullivan] and happy for all of those guys.”
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