It’s not just because it’s time to report for duty. Crane’s anxiety has much to do with how well he can throw since having hip surgery almost three months ago.
The 23-year-old right hander spent much of last season as a relief pitcher with the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Nationals’ Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League team based in Winooski, Vermont. He went 1-0 in 19.2 innings as a reliever with the Lake Monsters, giving up 14 hits, eight runs (five earned) with nine walks and 13 strikeouts with a 2.29 ERA.
About a month after being called up to the team in August, Crane began feeling “some pops and clicks” when doing warm-ups.
At first, he thought it was nothing more than his body being a little tired, but after Crane got it checked out, he was told he had a slight tear in his labrium of his right hip.
“Whenever it happened, they were telling me it could be something major, and that I would possibly be in a wheelchair for a month or two,” Crane said. “After I got my MRI, I went to Dr. (James) Andrews’ office (in Birmingham). He had his hip doctor take a look at it, and they told me it wasn’t anything major. It was just a slight tear.
“Instead of having to do anything major, they went in, cut that part off and cleaned everything out. There was some scar tissue in there, but they said everything looked nice. They caught it early, so there weren’t any tears on anything else.”
Crane said he was glad doctors caught his injury in time before anything worse happened to him.
“I’m kind of glad it happened, because I was kind of hurting off and on,” he said. “They said if they hadn’t caught it in time, it could possibly set up arthritis in my hip. It could have caused some bone chips to get loose. They said every time I moved my leg over like that, it was flopping around. It could have been a lot worse if they hadn’t caught it in time.”
Despite being told his surgery went well, Crane said he’s still nervous about being able to throw comfortably again.
“I’m kind of nervous because I don’t know if I’ll be able to do all the movements I’m supposed to do, even though they’ve been telling me everything will be all right,” Crane said. “I feel great now, but then again it’s in my head that it could be worse than I’m thinking now, that I won’t get my full rotation over, or it will hurt or something else might come up. I’m really anxious to get moving around to see if I get the motions down.”
Crane returned back home on Oct. 13 and rehabbed with Rehab Partners for a couple of months since the surgery. He said he’s ahead of schedule, which is good news when he reports to Melbourne, Fla., on March 5.
“Everything has gone well, actually,” Crane said. “I’m kind of ahead of where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been tossing for the past month, and I’m supposed to get on the mound in another week. Hopefully, I’ll get a little mound work in before I have to go back.”
Crane said if everything goes well during spring training, he’s hopeful of being called up.
“I really can’t wait,” he said. “I’m hoping to move up right out of spring training. I’m hoping to be in High A or Double A whenever that’s over. It just depends on how well I can pitch after I’ve had this hip operation. Everything went good this past year, so I’m hoping I can pick up where I left off.”