By John Philip Wyllie
In 2003, during his junior year at San Jose State USDHS alumnus Nick Guerra was faced with a double whammy. First, one of his closest friends unexpectedly passed away. Then, in the same week the promising star catcher blew out the elbow on his throwing arm. It was a lot to deal with for a 22-year old and at first Guerra didn’t handle it well.
“I had been doing real well in my junior year,” Guerra recalled. “I was draft eligible and I was hitting for power around .300. Scouts from the Padres and several other teams had been talking to me and I was coming off of a great series in Hawaii. Losing my buddy had in a way, given me a new motivation, but when the injury occurred I lost faith for a while.” Staggered by the setbacks Guerra just drifted initially, but after having Tommy John surgery on his elbow he began the tortuous process of rehabilitation at Gaspar Physical Therapy in Solana Beach.
“I stayed with it the best that I could, but I was dealing with some off the field problems at that time. Those problems didn’t allow me to do as much as I should have.” After eight months of stretching, strengthening and plying the weakened elbow back into shape, Guerra was ready to try baseball again. Catching a good break for a change, his recovery coincided with the introduction of Golden League professional baseball to SDSU’s Tony Gwynn Stadium. There Guerra has been a major contributor for the league leading (31-15) Surf Dawgs.
Currently hitting .324 at the season’s midpoint, Guerra has clouted four home runs and notched 28 RBIs. His latest sacrifice RBI Wednesday night scored Rickey Henderson for the game-winning run in a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Fullerton Flyers.
Recovering from injury hasn’t been Guerra’s only challenge this season. He has had to master a new position.
“For the last 20 to 30 games I have been playing third base, so I guess that is now my position. I haven’t played there since my sophomore year in high school and it has taken some adjustment, but I am feeling comfortable there now and I’m doing fine,” Guerra said.
Despite the recent positional change Guerra still considers himself a catcher. That being the case, he hasn’t stopped working on his behind the plate skills. He also realizes that there is nothing wrong with being versatile and he is happy to do whatever he can to help the team. After all that he has been through Guerra is just delighted to be back on the field.
“Our manager (Terry Ken-nedy) cares about his players, so I am putting my future in his hands. Whatever he decides I believe will be the right decision. I can’t say that I have ever had more fun playing in any season. Every one of these guys is solid. Everybody on this team cares about the guy beside him and I think that has a lot to do with our success. This has been a great experience and I think everybody is having fun.”
The Surf Dawgs host back to back series beginning at tonight 7:05 against the Surprise Fighting Falcons followed by a three-game match-up against the Yuma Scorpions. Tickets range from $6-$10. For further information call (619) 282-HITS.