Hammond didn’t let shoulder injury derail his career
By Dan Hiner
Wooster pitcher Alec Hammond considered quitting baseball last season.
The Canfield graduate suffered a partially torn rotator cuff and was already coming off a fractured disc in his back.
But the lefty decided to continue his collegiate career and has developed into a key contributor for one of the top Division III programs.
Hammond pitched 37 innings in eight starts. He is tied for third on the team in wins and has a 5-0 record to go along with a 4.62 ERA.
Wooster (34-6, 16-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) is ranked No. 1 in the Division III National College Baseball Writers Association and eighth in the Collegiate Baseball polls.
“That’s what you always strive for. You always strive to be the best pitcher, best starter, best relief [pitcher] you can be,” Hammond said.
“I don’t really like to look at it as an overnight success. I like to look at it as a four-year program — a four-year process of going through and grinding out the tough times, grinding through some injuries and getting better.”
Wooster pitching coach Barry Craddock said the concerns over Hammond’s health were minimal due to work ethic, rehab and physical conditioning.
“We monitor pitching counts, we bring guys along slowly starting in January,” Craddock said. “We take care of our pitching staff, not just Alec, but all of our pitchers.”
Hammond became the third starter in the Scots’ rotation this season. Last year he made 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
After spending his freshman year at Ashland, Hammond played at Seton Hill in 2016. But his back injury limited his season to three relief appearances.
Following the 2016 season, he traveled for Plant City, Fla., to attended the Florida Baseball Ranch.
The Florida Baseball Ranch provides pitching and hitting instruction while also teaching players about rehab and durability.
Wooster recruited Hammond while he was at Canfield. So when the time came to transfer, he had an idea of where he wanted to go.
But when he left Canfield, Hammond didn’t think he’d return to northeastern Ohio.
“The main reason I transferred out of Seton Hill was it just wasn’t what I wanted academically,” Hammond said. “And I knew [Wooster] had a very good academic program and a well-respected baseball program, too.
“So I thought that would be the best of both worlds.”
The struggles Hammond went through during his career have not only helped him along the way, but helped other Wooster players grow.
Craddock said Hammond has developed into a leader in his two years with the Scots and has become a valuable resource for the younger players.
“He’s provided a great senior leadership role in terms of how he goes about his business off the field in terms of pitchers’ fielding practice, side work — doing the in-season lifting and running to maintain performance levels,” Craddock said.
“He provides a great example as well as a resource for our younger guys. They can go to him and talk to him about what he’s doing and how it could possibly help them.”