Brewers First Round Draft Pick Corey Ray on Injuries and the MLB Experience
One of the highlights of spring training is the opportunity to see some of your favorite team’s top prospects working out and playing alongside major leaguers. Whether they’re competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster, being rewarded for a big year in the minors or simply being given a taste of the MLB lifestyle as encouragement to keep working, many of the game’s future stars get the call each year to make an appearance on spring training’s big stage.
One of the youngest players in major league camp with the Milwaukee Brewers this year is outfielder and 2016 first round draft pick Corey Ray. Ray is rehabbing from offseason knee surgery and likely won’t take the field in a major league game this spring, but we talked to him about his rehab, the MLB experience and his professional debut season.
So what’s your first spring in big league camp been like?
It’s been great. A big learning process for me. Not being on the field is a little challenging competitively, but I’ve learned a lot being around these types of guys that have been in the big leagues, where I want to go. And they know how to do it.
How frustrating is it to be rehabbing instead of playing right now?
As a competitor you just want to be out there. You think your body’s perfect, but these guys, they know what they’re doing and I’d rather recover now and play longer than come back early and have problems with it throughout the season.
So how close are you to 100% at this point?
Maybe a month or so.
So you’ll be ready for Opening Day or not long after, then?
Is that the plan? How much of the team’s plan for you do you know at this point?
I think we’re just playing it by ear. We don’t want to set a date, because if you set dates then you’re disappointed if you don’t make it, if you’re not ready by that date. So we’re just playing it by ear, how I feel physically, continuing to do the rehab every day and the lifts, and the workouts and trying to get me back stronger. We’ll see where we are.
So what have your teammates been like in your first spring training in the big league clubhouse?
They’ve been great. A lot of great guys. There’s never a dull moment in the clubhouse, especially with Joba (Chamberlain) and (Matt) Garza. But the guys are great.
Do guys have you doing the typical rookie stuff, going to get coffee and stuff like that?
No, they don’t make me do that. (Laughs)
How big is it for you to get this first big league spring training out of the way, and to establish a comfort zone for future years?
I think it’s really important. I’m thankful for the opportunity, the opportunity to learn even though I’m not playing. I think that it’s been a great opportunity, and I thank the Brewers for giving me the opportunity.
What are your goals for the year ahead?
Get on the field and stay healthy the whole season is number one. Just to get better every day I step on the field on some way, shape or form. I’m not a big set numbers type of guy. Just to get better and learn, and become a better all-around baseball player.
Looking back on your 2016 season, you had an interesting year getting assigned directly to the High-A level after signing, and your numbers weren’t what some fans might have expected (Ray hit .247 with a .307 on-base percentage and .370 slugging in 60 games). How do you view your 2016 season?
I think my 2016 season was a success. My numbers weren’t what everyone expected, I guess, but how important are numbers in the minor leagues? I think it’s about development, and growing and getting familiar with professional baseball. And if you would have seen me play throughout the season, I think you would have saw that from the first time I stepped in Brevard (County) to the time I left, that there was a big difference. I was better, and I improved in areas and I’ve still got a lot of improvement to go. I’m not quite concerned with the numbers early. I’m not worried about the numbers in the minor leagues, I’m concerned with getting better so I can put up numbers in the big leagues.