Vince Belnome was easy to spot during his six weeks on the disabled list.
The Tucson Padres infielder was the player on the top step of the dugout, next to hitting coach Bob Skube. He was the player watching every at-bat as if he were on deck.
He was the player doing something every day to try to heal his separated shoulder.
"He just wants to be a part of the team," Tucson manager Terry Kennedy said. "He's a good teammate. You can't ask anything else of a player."
Belnome, 24, suffered a separated shoulder in early May while he was diving for a ball at second base. It was the third significant injury of his young baseball career.
The Coatesville, Pa., native tore his ACL when he was a freshman at West Virginia. Last year, he suffered a pulled groin and a lower abdominal strain, an injury he compared to a sports hernia.
"I do everything I can to minimize the injuries, but they're just freak things," said Belnome, who went 1 for 3 in Tucson's 5-1 victory over Reno on Wednesday night at Kino Stadium. "They're never minor things where you're just out for a little bit. It's always something serious.
"Mentally, you just have to stay tough."
The 28th-round pick of the Padres in 2009 has done just that. Belnome has never hit worse than .273 in his professional career and has batted better than .300 in three of his four seasons.
Belnome is hitting .308 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 37 games. Last year at Double-A San Antonio, the natural second baseman hit .333 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.
A rare left-handed-hitting middle infielder, Belnome has caught the eye of the Padres organization the past two years with his success at the plate at the minor leagues' two highest levels.
His work ethic and sweet swing are a direct product of his backyard in Coatesville. His dad, also Vince, bought his son a batting cage and pitching machine when the younger Belnome was in ninth grade.
Every day after school, Belnome headed straight to his cage and took as many hacks as he could.
"Everything was handed to me right in the back yard," Belnome said. "It makes it kind of hard to go inside and play video games when there's a cage in your back yard.
"I credit that for the hitter I am now."
Belnome returned from his shoulder injury earlier this month and picked up right where he left off pre-injury. Since his return, Belnome has three multiple-hit games in nine contests and has driven in six runs.
He's healthy and as comfortable as ever in Tucson's lineup.
He has a hitting coach, Skube, who worked with him two years ago in Class A. He's also playing with former college teammate and friend Jedd Gyorko.
The two were stars at West Virginia, hitting better than .400 in Belnome's final year in Morgantown. They were then drafted by the Padres one year apart and are teammates again in Tucson.
"I hit behind him in college, and I'm doing it again here," Belnome said. "I'm used to it. We've been doing it for four or five years now. He's a great player to hit behind."
Now the challenge for Belnome is to stay healthy and continue to hit behind Gyorko.
"I do everything I can to stay healthy," Belnome said. "I'm going to keep doing that and just try to keep getting better."
• Who: Reno at Tucson Padres
• When: 7:05 p.m.
• Radio: 1600-AM