Recovering Wieck reports after cancer surgery
PEORIA, Ariz. -- In two weeks, Brad Wieck wants to be throwing off a mound. In a month, he wants to be competing for a place in the Padres' bullpen. The 27-year-old left-hander is insistent that he's going to keep "rolling with the punches," even though the latest punch was a particularly dreadful one.
In January, Wieck was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Shortly after the New Year, Wieck arrived in San Diego for a set of workouts. While there, he underwent a physical, and he pointed out to his doctors that something wasn't right. He was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor and underwent successful surgery only a few days later.
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"The morning before I had my checkup, we were all out on the beach doing a full beach workout," Wieck said. "Then, like two days later, I'm on the operating table. It was scary."
Now, Wieck's doctors believe he is fully healthy, though he's slated to go through a series of follow-up appointments. He'll be sidelined indefinitely from formal workouts, but he's already begun throwing and is currently stretched to 105 feet.
"At first it was tough, you know," Wieck said. "I didn't know why it happened. As a young kid, you think maybe later on in life people get cancer. But, man, it's tough to deal with. But we're dealing with it. All we can do is move forward. There's no reason to sit and ponder, 'Why this, why that, why me?'"
Wieck, an imposing 6-foot-9 southpaw, debuted last September. He made five appearances, striking out 10 hitters over seven innings while allowing one run on three hits.
Wieck figured to be a prominent competitor for one of the final few spots in the Padres' bullpen. That's still likely to be the case when he returns, especially if Matt Strahm and Robbie Erlin shift to rotation roles, leaving a void of left-handers in the 'pen.
"I was killing it this offseason. I was excited about the September I had, and I was training hard," Wieck said. "Then this just smacks me in the face. ... They did say that we caught it early. Thank God that we did."
Wieck reported to camp along with the full contingent of Padres pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, though he won't take part in the team's first workout Thursday -- or any formal workouts in the near future. The club plans to take things slowly in his recovery.
"For most of Spring Training, he's just going to be recovering," said Padres manager Andy Green. "For all of us, we're just glad that he's healthy."
Wieck was quick to praise the organization, the coaching staff and his teammates for their support through the process. He added that he was extremely grateful to be in San Diego with team physicians when the issue arose.
Now, Wieck says he feels close to full strength, and he's eager to get back on the mound, potentially at the end of the month.
"I feel good right now," Wieck said. "It is crazy to think that even when it was still in my body, I felt fine physically, I felt ready to rock and roll. That's scary that I didn't feel anything different. Now, I feel fine, I feel strong, I'm moving along with the recovery process, and I'm just rolling with the punches."