With all due respect to the fine folks in Southwest Florida, Fort Myers is not where major league baseball players yearn to be when late April rolls around. The team isn't there, and neither is the satisfaction of participating in a big league season.
It's a reality Ryan Brasier is currently enduring.
"It’s freaking brutal," the Red Sox reliever told WEEI.com by phone. "I’m champing at the bit to get out of here. Especially because we’re playing so good and we look so good. I don’t hardly miss (watching) a pitch. I’ve got nothing else to do."
What Brasier is doing, besides following the Red Sox from afar, is waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Unfortunately for the pitcher, healing the injured left calf muscle that put him in his spot is dependent on patience and time.
He isn't yet throwing off a mound, but there has been progress in terms of putting the Grade 2 strain and slot tear in his rearview mirror.
"A couple of weeks ago I could barely walk," Brasier noted. "To be able to walk without limping to now being pretty much pain-free when I’m walking around."
The injury was somewhat of a mystery considering few had seen Brasier pitch at all throughout spring training. After dealing with a hand injury (suffered on Thanksgiving), he was forced to miss a chunk of camp due to a personal matter back home in Texas.
In mid-March, Brasier was finally able to participate in a real game, getting on the mound at Hammond Stadium to face the Twins in a 'B' game. But that initial outing was when the righty took his biggest step back.
"It was my first outing. I took a step toward covering first base and I could tell right away that something wasn’t right," Brasier said. "It didn’t feel too good. I never had anything like that. It hurt pretty bad. Right away, I could tell something wasn’t right.
"I knew it wasn’t going to be quick. I knew as soon as they told me how bad the strain was I was going to be down for a little bit. Luckily, throwing has progressed pretty well. It hasn’t bothered me throwing. We’ve been able to do more stuff every day."
Brasier's name has come up routinely when Alex Cora addresses the state of his bullpen, and for good reason. For the final 1 1/2 months of 2020 the pitcher was the most consistent reliever the Red Sox had, totaling a 1.89 ERA in his final 18 appearances.
And while the Red Sox' relievers have shown signs of becoming a strength, there still have been enough hiccups to remember the importance of Brasier's return.
Considering there still has been no mound-work, a return to the Red Sox doesn't seem imminent. Although it is different sport, one timetable can be drawn from NBA star Anthony Davis's two-month hiatus due to a similar calf injury.
But the good news for Brasier is that his arm is good shape, with that calf feeling better each day.
"I’m hoping that it’s sooner than later," said Brasier. "I’m definitely ready to get right in the middle of the things, for sure. I think we’re in a pretty good spot in terms of getting on the right track."