C.J. Cron has been around baseball long enough to know just about every player deals with adversity at some point.
It could be anything from being traded, getting released by an organization, or getting injured.
Cron just didn't want to have it happen so early in his career.
Cron, a Mountain Pointe graduate and the Los Angeles Angels' top pick in the 2011 MLB draft, has been dealing with the mental and physical rehabilitation that comes with suffering a serious injury.
Just 34 games into his professional career, Cron had to deal with anguish that came with a season-ending injury. While swinging at a pitch in a minor league game in August, Cron dislocated his kneecap, which required surgery over the offseason.
"I'm not extremely worried about my knee," the first baseman said. "Obviously, any time there's a surgery something could go wrong, but the doctors did a great job. Everything's going perfect right now, and I'm very happy with it."
Because of his success at the minor league level, Cron's ability to bounce back in a timely fashion is his biggest focus entering the spring.
"Obviously, I want to get the knee back to full 100 percent, which I should be able to do," said Cron, who is projected to begin the year at Class A Inland Empire.
Cron recently met with minor league training coordinator Geoff Hostetter and was scheduled to have his knee re-examined. Barring any setbacks, he should have no problem getting cleared for baseball activity well before minor league spring training opens in March.
Pride coach Brandon Buck was Cron's baseball coach throughout his time at Mountain Pointe, and has kept in touch with him since he left. Buck remains confident that Cron will be able to build upon the impact he made with the Orem Owlz over the summer.
"He'll be fine," Buck said. "You have to understand how to handle it, how to bounce back, and how not to let things bother you. That's just typical of all great baseball players, so he'll be good to go."
Despite playing his final season at the University of Utah with a tear in the labrum of his throwing shoulder, Cron hit .434 with 15 home runs, 26 doubles, and 59 runs batted in. The shoulder injury scared off a number of teams who feared it would inevitably require surgery, even though some projections considered him as the best bat in the entire draft.
The Angels took the risk, making him their first pick last June at No. 17 overall. Cron, who managed to avoid surgery on his shoulder, signed early compared to most first-rounders.
Playing for the Owlz in Orem, Utah, allowed Cron to play about 40 minutes from his former college. Before the kneecap injury shortened his season, Cron hit .308 with 13 home runs and 41 runs batted in through 34 games.
"I had a good little short season," Cron said. "It's been definitely quite a while since I've played, but I'm looking forward to spring training."
While Cron prepares himself to return strong from his injury, his comfort at first base presents an issue for an organization that just signed Albert Pujols, one of the best first basemen to play the game, to a 10-year contract. The team could prepare Cron to tryout for third base or outfield, or potentially limit him to DH regardless of his age.
Cron admitted that decision is beyond his control and he'll accept the organization's wishes either way.
"Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do," Cron said. "There's some stuff you just can't worry about, and that's one of them because it wasn't my decision. I'm just going to play and whatever happens, happens."
Buck believes Cron will make his name known within the Angels starting this spring, and will continue to develop from there.
"He's a hard-working, good kid that's never going to embarrass the organization," Buck said. "All he's going to do is make the organization that much better because he's going to do so many positive things for them."
Chris Cole is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.