NILES -- Sometimes it's easier to endure adversity when you've got a friend.
Take Cleveland Indians prospects Mike Edwards and Zach Sorensen, for example. Friends for the past three years, Edwards and Sorensen are battling their way back from injury.
That's why you'll see them in a Mahoning Valley Scrappers uniform for the next couple of weeks.
"It's better having someone down with me," said Sorensen, a shortstop. "We've been able to pick each other up and push each other."
Edwards and Sorensen arrived in the Mahoning Valley earlier in the week from Double-A Akron, where they both played last season.
But, April was their downfall, with the wear and tear of the game resulting in injury.
Edwards, a third baseman, underwent surgery April 5 for a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Sorensen had elbow surgery in the middle of that month.
Overcoming frustration: Now, two 24-year-old players who haven't been accustomed to the frustration of injury are dealing with that unfortunate circumstance.
"It's been tough," Edwards said. "It's mentally challenging. Baseball gets taken away from you, and you miss it. You appreciate your health when you can go out and play every day."
Sorensen said, "When you expect to have a pretty good season and then you get shut down for a while, it's always hard."
The Indians plan to work their prospects slowly, giving them three and five innings of game action before allowing them to go the entire way.
"When we get back to Akron or wherever we may go, we'll be ready to finish out the year," Edwards said.
Sorensen said, "The arm is in charge. It tells us if we're ready or not."
Edwards was drafted in 1995 out of Mechanicsburg High in Mechanicsburg, Pa., spending several years at Rookie-League Burlington. Last year at Akron, he batted close to .300.
"I've never played in the New York-Penn League," Edwards said. "I kind of skipped that league. Now, I've touched them all. I just need to get to the last two -- [Triple-A] Buffalo and Cleveland."
A Salt Lake City, Utah, native, Sorensen was a second-round draft pick in 1998. He played in the New York-Penn League at Watertown before advancing to Class A full-season Kinston.
Sorensen spent last season at Akron and Buffalo, batting around .265. He just didn't expect to be at Mahoning Valley this year.
"This is the first time I've been here," he said. "They know how to do it right. This is a good group of guys and a good staff, and I'm tinkled pink to be able to come down here and play in such a good atmosphere."
Contributing experience: Having players who have experienced the higher levels of professional baseball has been a benefit to the Scrappers -- even if it's only for a couple of weeks.
"I love talking baseball. I could talk baseball all day long," Edwards said. "I don't know it all, but I've seen a lot of games these past couple of years. Anything they ask me, I'm willing to throw my two cents in."
Sorensen said, "[The Scrappers] are asking questions -- just the basic questions on how to go about your business and how to play the game right -- which is great. Baseball is such a strange game."
Advancement timetables are always hard to judge. So many factors can change a player's fate.
"They have such a good team up top, with the Indians," Edwards said. "It's taking a little longer than I thought. You can't really look too far into the future because you never know what's going to happen."
That's a discovery Edwards and Sorensen already have made.
XBrian Richesson covers the Scrappers for The Vindicator. Write to him at email@example.com.