Dayton's Kyle Lotzkar
zeroed in to get the sign from his catcher as he faced one of the toughest hitters in the Midwest League in 2008, Quad Cities' Brett Wallace. He threw a breaking ball, then walked off the mound.
It would be nearly three years before Lotzkar stepped onto a Midwest League pitching mound again. He suffered a fractured elbow on the pitch.
"I threw in a similar way as [Detroit's] Joel Zumaya, and he broke the exact same bone," said Lotzkar, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick by the Reds. "I just walked off the field. I kind of knew it was coming. I didn't go into shock right away. It was an empty feeling."
A native of Delta, British Columbia, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander eventually underwent surgery to repair the fracture. He later had Tommy John surgery.
Lotzkar's injury was a result of hyperabduction, when the elbow goes above the shoulder when a pitcher throws.
"I felt like I could throw harder that way," Lotzkar explained. "Before I was getting drafted in high school, I didn't have a lot of lower body strength and I generally didn't have a good idea of how to pitch. It was 'Throw as hard as you can and it really doesn't matter what your arm does.'"
When Lotzkar was told to learn a splitter in Dayton, the pain intensified.
"It was hurting quite a while and I kept pitching through it," he said. "I didn't tell anyone. It was that whole immaturity thing. I was 18 and I didn't want to let the team down. I was scared, too."
The original outlook was for Lotzkar to be sidelined a month. He went to instructional ball in the fall of 2008 and had a full range of motion. X-rays showed that the stress fracture in the elbow had healed. When he felt pain again, he was shut down until Spring Training of 2009. Tests indicated the elbow was healed, but there were still problems.
The pain persisted and Lotzkar begin compensating for it by altering the way he threw. The results was a torn ACL. A CT scan in May 2009 revealed the elbow was still fractured, prompting another surgical procedure.
"After the surgery, there wasn't a guarantee that I would come back and throw healthy again because of the nature of what had happened. And this surgery hadn't been done too many times," Lotzkar explained. "They placed a 2 1/2-inch screw parallel to the elbow and did Tommy John surgery on top of that."
During rehab, he learned a lot from Reds veterans like Bill Bray, Edinson Volquez and Ben Davis.
"My mentality was pretty good," Lotzkar said. "Being young, I hadn't experienced anything like that before. I rehabbed with a lot of older guys. I worked hard and kept a good mentality throughout most of it. I kept quiet and listened to the older guys. ... I learned a lot from them.
"I needed to grow up because I was pretty immature coming into pro ball. I grew intellectually and mentally, and now I have a better grasp on a lot of things."
Lotzkar appeared in 12 games between the Arizona and Pioneer leagues in 2010, then returned to Dayton last week. Now that he's back, he won't rush his development.
"I'm anxious, but at the same time you have to put in your time at each level," he said. "It would be nice to be moved up really fast, but I don't think it will happen. It sucks that people are passing me by, but that's the nature of getting injured."
Big-time rally: Cedar Rapids fought back from a seven-run deficit to knock off Wisconsin, 8-7, in 10 innings on June 17. Justin Bass, just reassigned from the California League, scored the winning run on a one-out wild pitch.
RBI record: Dayton's David Vidal hit two homers and tied a franchise record with seven RBIs in a 14-4 rout of Fort Wayne. His final RBI came without swinging the bat as he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Vidal shared the record with Adam Dunn (2000), Joey Votto (2004) and Juan Francisco (2007).