This is how Naylor continued to thrive after IL stint

September 17th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mandy Bell’s Guardians Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

has been electric.

Naylor was the heartbeat of this Guardians’ lineup throughout the first half of the season. He didn’t slow down after the All-Star break and a month-long stint on the injured list did nothing to affect his approach at the plate. In his first 12 games since returning from the IL on Sept. 3, he hit .378 with 12 RBIs and a .986 OPS.

After his 4-for-5 performance on Friday, Naylor answered a handful of questions regarding what’s led to this success. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: How have you been able to be so consistent?
 I think I take a lot of pride in my work ethic, whether I’m injured or not. I try to motivate myself daily. I study as well as I can. I study either my swing, personally, or opposing pitchers. I think working with other players, too, helps me a lot. Learning other people’s swings and learning what gets other people success helps me kind of put it into my game.

I think those are the keys -- in my opinion -- to be successful. Other people have their ways of being successful. I think those are things that help me on the daily and just waking up just wanting to win every day. I love this game. I’m very blessed to play this game. Very blessed to have the teammates I have and the staff I have and the trainers I have, and everyone involved. So, I think if you take yourself out of the equation and you do it for other people, it makes your game easier, your life easier, knowing you’re playing for whoever else versus yourself. It gives me a little bit of success.

Q: How did you maintain all of this through your rehab stint?
Naylor: Consistent practice in the cage. Seeing heavy velocity -- almost unrealistic type of velocity. I think that helps. Helps in all kinds of practice environments, seeing things that are kind of unrealistic to you. Things that almost don’t compare to a game. You know what I mean? You’re facing a machine and you move up a few steps, so it looks like it’s coming at 120 miles per hour and you have to try to hit that.

Those are the things I kind of did in my rehab process to stay consistent and to keep myself kind of humbled in a way because I know I’m gonna fail on that machine a lot and failure has to be your best friend in this game. You have to be willing to fail and to learn from it**.** You can’t be willing to fail and get … upset. You have to be willing to learn from all the failure you have. So, in our rehab process, I hit a lot of heavy velocity machine, a lot of off-speed stuff just to be unrealistic so when I face something in a game it’s not as nasty as it was in the machine. You know what I mean? Those are the things I did during my rehab.

Q: What would it mean to you to get to 100 RBIs? (He enters Sunday with 91)
If I’m being honest, I don’t really seek individual awards. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. It’s awesome to get 100 RBIs, hit .300 or hit 40 homers. Whatever the case is. It’s awesome. But I want to win every day. If I get 100 RBIs, that’s a blessing. If I don’t, I don’t. I just want to win. I want to do whatever it takes to win every day. That’s all I can say on that.