Athlete / NYJSM Interview / Matt White

Interview with Matt White

October 13, 2009

Matthew Vasey, MD





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Dr. Vasey: It is nice to have the opportunity to do this interview with you. As a Furman University student, I remember hearing of your collegiate playing days with Clemson University. You have since admirably been drafted by and played with a number of Major League Baseball teams. I understand that you experienced an untimely injury in Spring Training just after making the roster of the Boston Red Sox. Could you tell me a little bit about the injury?
Matt White: I was throwing a curveball and when I landed, my land leg landed early and I wasn't in position to throw the baseball. As a result I tore my right oblique muscle. I knew I was injured, but continued pitching in the game for another 3 batters. I could feel burning and intense pain on the right side of my torso; it probably didn't help matters that I stayed in the game.

Dr. Vasey: How did you handle the timing of the injury?
Matt White: Well, that morning I had been told that I had made the team and would be breaking spring training as a member of the 25 man roster for the Boston Red Sox. I had a lot of momentum before that injury. I had only given up one earned run over the course of the entire big league training, so, unfortunately this injury really couldn't have come at a worse time in my career.

Dr. Vasey: What options in regard to treatment were presented to you by the team's medical doctors?
Matt White: There wasn't much I could do besides rest. They didn't give any anti inflammatories because that would have resulted in thinning my blood and would have hindered the healing process. Basically, team doctors had me icing, resting and nothing else. I remember I couldn't cough, sneeze, sleep, and couldn't really move at all from side to side. I wasn't able to do my throwing motion at all which was incredibly discouraging.

Dr. Vasey: Could you tell me about your rehabilitation course, how long and what sort of commitment it took to get back to your playing level prior the injury?
Matt White: I stayed in Florida at the team's extended spring training camp in order to heal the injury. I wasn't able to throw a baseball for 3 weeks. Once I was able to start training and throwing I made three starts in extended spring training, then I started my rehab assignment in full season high A ball in the Florida State league. I had two games for that team, then moved quickly to AA for two more outings, and then had two outings in AAA Pawtucket Rhode Island. This entire rehab assignment was a total of a two weeks. My circumstances were unique because the team was on the Rule 5 Draft timetable which meant they had to decide whether or not they were going to keep me by a deadline. I was also incredibly anxious to get back on the mound.

Dr. Vasey: How did this particular injury affect your pitching mechanics and performance throughout rehabilitation?
Matt White: While I was rehabbing I was getting back in the mindset of pitching but just when I started to feel better, I was all of a sudden pitching for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees in Yankee stadium. So it was kind of a crazy turn of events. A month prior I had been completely shut down from pitching altogether so this was a period of time that seemed like the blink of an eye to me.

Dr. Vasey: Were you ever able to get back the opportunity with the Red Sox you earned in Spring Training prior to the injury?
Matt White: I never got back to the condition I was in prior to the injury with the Red Sox. I was able to get back into my best shape again later in my career but I was only on the 25 man roster with the Red Sox for 11 days so there wasn't much time to get back into that big league game shape with them.

Dr. Vasey: What measures do you take to best prevent having to face an injury like this again?
Matt White: I've never had an injury like that happen again. It just speaks to the importance of my mechanics. I remember exactly how it happened. It was an unfortunate pitch where I wasn't completely ready to deliver the ball.

Dr. Vasey: Some of your legacy, for better or for worse will be related to an incidental Goshen Stone discovery on land you had purchased valued to be at a few hundred billion dollars that generated national media publicity. Admirably you have continued your pursuit of playing Major League Baseball. How would you describe your passion for the game and desire to play at the premiere level?
Matt White: Well I've been out of baseball for a year. I had two hernias and the Shingles this past year and was unable to play baseball because of those two things. I'm currently working and training to get a contract for 2010 season. However, this break from baseball has given me the opportunity to start and develop the business on the rock quarry which I'm happy about because I've had the time to work with my father and solidify a career in that area when baseball is finally over. However my first priority is still baseball and I'm grateful I have had this time to fully appreciate the game.



Dr. Vasey: What would you like to be known for as a player in Major League Baseball?
Matt White: I would like to always be known as someone that overcame major odds. I never really expected to make it as far as playing in the majors. However, through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice I showed that anybody can accomplish what might seem unlikely or far-fetched. I worked really hard, gave up off-seasons with my family and friends to go overseas to continue to improve and pitch against the best competition available to polish the craft. This was really difficult. I was away from home for pretty much 9 months of the year for a few years. But, I'm so proud now to be able to look back and know that I made it that far and that my hard work paid off.

Dr. Vasey: What is one of your most memorable moments as a player?
Matt White: My most memorable moment in baseball was not actually on the mound at all. I was in the Dominican Republic playing winter ball when I received a phone call from my agent saying I had been Major League Rule 5 Drafted by the Boston Red Sox. I remember literally jumping up and down in my hotel room. This had always been my childhood dream and to have it realized is a feeling I will never forget. Of course there are so many amazing things that have happened in my career and I'm thankful for all of them, but this memory has always stayed with me.

Dr. Vasey: One of my favorite questions to ask is what kind of advice do you have for young healthy high school, college athletes and minor league players with hopes of pitching in Major League Baseball?
Matt White: I would say that anybody can achieve their dreams with hard work and dedication, no matter what the dream is. I think it's so important that even in the face of adversity to keep working and stay positive. Coming from a small town and growing up working on a farm, there were a lot of people that probably didn't think I had what it took to make it to the major leagues. Playing minor league ball was always cool, but making it to the mound for a big league team is something that nobody can ever take from me and that few ever achieve. Not only was I able to make it to a major league mound, but I did it for the team that I grew up idolizing and dreaming about.

Dr. Vasey: Thank you very much for taking time talk with me about your experience. You have made many incredible accomplishments in baseball. I want to sincerely wish you continued success with your professional career.

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