When the Rays signed Luke Scott following an injury plagued 2011 season which ended with shoulder surgery they had hoped he could return to his 2010 form when he posted a slash line of .284/.368/.535 with 27 home runs and 72 RBI.
The contract he signed with the Rays was a 2-year deal worth up to $11M dollars. His salary for the 2012 season was $5M and the Rays held a club option for 2013 at $6M which included a $1M buyout.
Scott struggled with his health in 2012 which resulted in two different trips to the disabled list causing him to miss 45 games. Overall his numbers suffered as he posted a slash line of .229/.285/.439 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI in just 344 plate appearances. After the season the Rays chose to pay him $1M dollars and let him test the free agent market.
In late January the Rays re-signed him to a 1-year deal that included up to $750K in plate appearance incentives ($50,000 for 400 PA. $0.1M for 450 PA. $0.25M for 500 PA. $0.3M for 550 PA).
Not much can be made for spring training statistics but he looked good at the plate hitting .324 (11 for 34) and had hit 3 home runs and the ball was jumping off his bat. It was a long cry from the spring training of 2012 when he had to spend the first several weeks hitting off a tee as his shoulder continued to heal from surgery.
Unfortunately, the injury bug bit him again as near the end of spring training he suffered a strained calf which landed him on the disabled list causing him to miss the first 25 games of the season.
He returned to the lineup on April 30th and through his first 19 games posted an excellent slash line of .296/.420/.481 and had 3 home runs in 69 PAs but the hot streak would not continue. He slumped badly from May 22 through June 22 hitting just .122 (7 for 57) with only 2 extra base hits in that span.
On June 22nd his season totals had dropped to .207/.311/.324 but prior to the game on June 24th he vowed to continue to work hard saying “Keep digging, eventually you find gold.” He mentioned that the game is about feel, “You don’t know why things like this happen, It would be one thing if I wasn’t working. It would be one thing if I didn’t have the ability. That’s not the case.”
From that day forward Scott has been on fire hitting .351 (20 for 57) with 10 extra base hits (5 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs) and has walked 6 times while striking out only 7 times.
After his mammoth 442 foot home run on Friday night he said that the blast was in indication that his swing was returning “”it was reminiscent of 2010 before when I had that snap in my bat and my hands so things are starting to come together my swing that way.”
After another home run on Saturday afternoon Scott talked about the way the bat feels like a whip in his hand for the first time since 2010.
He says this year the inflammation of the shoulder is out. Last year he was only 8 months removed from shoulder surgery and swinging a 32.5 ounce bat day through the zone day in and day out took its toll. This year he is finally healthy and his lead shoulder finally feels like it did in 2010.
At age 35 his return from shoulder surgery was not an easy one but he credits his god given determination and knowledge of nutrition for his recovery. Since he was young he has studied nutrition and believes taking care of his body is investing in the long term, “I have a full time physical therapist that I fly in every month, we to do preventative medicine. We train in the off season so when I train I get bigger, strong, faster – its not a sacrifice range of range of motion or joint flexibility or joint health. I’ve really made huge investments into my body and it’s paid off.’
If he can continue to whip the bat and his hands through the zone and maintain his pitch recognition ability that he has shown this season both the Rays and Scott will receive a huge return on investment in the 2nd half of the season.