Tucson Padres: Darnell's rising star shot down by injuries

2013-05-08T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: Darnell's rising star shot down by injuriesDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Tucson Padres manager Pat Murphy has seen the aftermath of injuries ruin the careers of plenty of young, promising ballplayers.

"The residual from that stuff affects the people around you, your attitude, your approach to the game," Murphy said. "It must be very, very tough."

Tucson's James Darnell knows all too well what Murphy is talking about. But the 26-year-old prospect refuses to give in.

Darnell played in the All-Star Futures Game in 2011 and was ready for his career to take off with the organization that drafted him.

Instead, his career has been sidetracked by injuries since then.

"It's definitely been trying at times," Darnell said. "You definitely learn a lot about yourself and about how much you love and appreciate the game."

The versatile fielder, who plays both corner outfield and infield spots, is finally healthy and back in Tucson's lineup. He went 0 for 4 in Tuesday night's 6-2 win over Albuquerque at Kino Stadium, but he's batting .303 through eight games with four extra-base hits.

"He's handled himself really well," Murphy said. "He's got a positive attitude, and he's a kid who cares about his game. He gives you a solid at-bat every time, and he's respected because of how he goes about his work."

Here's a closer look at the injuries Darnell has suffered.

2011

The injury: Left shoulder strain suffered diving for a ball while playing third base.

Time missed: Darnell, a late-season call-up by San Diego, suffered the injury on Sept. 16 and had season-ending arthroscopic surgery.

Before the injury: Darnell was having a stellar minor league season, hitting .333 in 76 games with Double-A San Antonio and .261 in 35 games with Tucson. Combined, he hit 23 home runs, 29 doubles and drove in 79 runs. He made his big-league debut in August, starting at third base against the New York Mets.

Quotable: "It was kind of a freak accident. When you come back, you can't allow yourself to think about it and just have to play the way you know how. I'm going to keep running and keep playing hard. In the end, my job is to drive in runs and play good defense." - Darnell

2012

The injury: Left shoulder subluxation that he suffered playing left field and diving to try to make a catch.

Time missed: Darnell suffered the injury May 18 and missed the rest of the 2012 season. He first tried rest, but then had to have surgery in August when his shoulder didn't respond to the time off.

Before the injury: Darnell had played in 31 games with Tucson, batting .267 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. He was promoted to San Diego in early May and was 4 for 17 before he injured his shoulder.

Quotable: "I looked at things from the prospective of my faith and that God has a plan for me and my life. Sometimes we make mistakes and dive for a ball I probably shouldn't have and blow the shoulder out. But you just keep going. You keep pressing on toward the goal. Eventually, I know I'll be able to help San Diego do well and win."

2013

The injury: Right oblique strain that occurred during spring training.

Time missed: He was sidelined for more than six weeks with the oblique injury he suffered trying to check his swing in a spring training game.

Before the injury: Darnell reported to Peoria looking to have a healthy and successful 2013 season following two years of injuries. He was hoping to make San Diego's club out of spring training but instead now finds himself in Tucson after another setback.

Quotable: "With this injury, it's knowing your body and knowing when tightness and soreness is leading to a problem or when the soreness is just natural and getting back into things. I reported for spring training in really good shape and was ready to go. It just didn't work out like that."

TOday

• What: Albuquerque at Padres

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1290-AM

¡Tus Padres!

• Highlight: Jonathan Galvez and Rene Rivera each had two hits as the Padres beat Albuquerque 6-2 for their fourth straight win.

• Big number: 7: The Padres (15-17) now have a winning record at Kino Stadium with a 7-6 mark.

• Tonight's starters: Padres RHP Thad Weber (3-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Palmer (0-0, 4.00 ERA)

Daniel Berk

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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