He was comfortable at the plate and moved well in the field. Finally, Steve Tolleson felt like a baseball player again.
The second baseman had been playing well with the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting .308 in a 12-game span from May 12-26.
But then he injured his groin and ended up on the disabled list.
And getting healthy has been a struggle, both physically and mentally.
In Tuesday’s game against Gwinnett, he played a scheduled six innings at second base and went 1 for 3 with a strikeout and a groundout. The Bisons lost 4-1 in 13 innings.
It’s been a while coming for the 31-year old who has worked his way back from both the injury and a setback.
Tolleson played one game in Single-A Dunedin on June 12 then joined the Bisons for a Major League rehabilitation assignment on June 13. He played four games, experiencing some soreness but playing through the pain. He aggravated the injury in Lehigh Valley on June 17 and missed the next 10 games.
“I was in Florida rehabbing and I started feeling really good. My talks with what was going on,” with the Blue Jays had us “shooting for a certain date so I sped some things up,” Tolleson said. “I kind of had some soreness but I wanted to go back up and play and help the team win so I just wanted to grin and bear it and get through it, just hoping it was soreness from not being active but it was soreness from still being injured.
“I tried to get through it. I just wasn’t moving around very well and then the last day in Lehigh Valley, I really tried to get after it and it grabbed on me again and it was kind of going back to stage one which was disappointing but I guess that’s what happens sometimes.”
Tolleson was still active for the Bisons, meaning the clock on his rehab assignment was still ticking even though he wasn’t in the lineup. That meant Tuesday’s game was likely Tolleson’s last before coming off the disabled list.
“To my understanding this is it,” Tolleson said. “I was kind of surprised they didn’t stop my assignment but you know, I guess I can’t really say too much, but just what’s going on up there and who they’re facing in the next week to 10 days to even this whole month.
“They told me they didn’t have any interest in extending the assignment. They wanted me to get close and know that I wasn’t going to be playing every day just because of my role and they face a lot of lefties coming up and I guess that was the main reason.”
The right-handed hitter went 0 for 3 as the designated hitter on Monday and before Tuesday’s game admitted his time with the Bisons had not very productive at the plate. He was 1 for 18 before leading off Tuesday’s game with a single to shallow center.
“I felt in my time here I’ve been very rusty,” Tolleson said. “I haven’t really had my timing at the plate but Monday night I felt great. It was the best I’ve felt at the plate since I was injured … and I was very encouraged by the way I felt.”