GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jace Fry is looking forward to a fully healthy return somewhere around the start of May, following a microdiscectomy performed in January, with the White Sox reliever feeling as good as he has since back issues began in 2019.
“I feel amazing. I feel healthy and symptoms that I was having before are gone. So, I’m excited about how my body is feeling and our plan moving forward,” Fry told MLB.com during a recent interview. “Even when I do small exercises, I can feel my drive leg activate the way it’s supposed to.
“I’m doing the same kind of small exercise but feeling my leg just light up in different ways. It’s kind of how I was in the beginning of my career with the White Sox.”
Despite missing 10 days in September because of back trouble, the 27-year-old finished 2020 with a 3.66 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 19 2/3 innings and 18 games. Fry fanned 68 over 55 innings and 68 games in 2019, and he posted 70 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings in 2018, against a total of 75 walks in that same three-season time frame.
Epidurals and trying to fix his routine to help stabilize the back pushed Fry through the past few years, but he couldn’t get back to a pain-free point or feeling comfortable when he ramped things up this offseason. Fry visited a back specialist in Los Angeles and surgery was decided as the best course of action.
“It was a bulging disk, and it was pinching my nerve up against my hip bone, so I had kind of constant nerve pain and numbness, and I was losing strength in my left leg, so my drive leg,” Fry said. “I was able to get through the year. And I put the baseball down, the weights down for a month and came back and was hoping that it was going to be gone.
“As we progressed and intensified my workouts, I knew it was going to be a problem. So, we got the surgery done.”
The date of May 7 will be four months since surgery, and if there are no setbacks, Fry is hoping for a return around that point. He was part of three White Sox losing seasons prior to the ’20 playoff appearance and is ready to contribute again as part of a top-notch bullpen.
“Even last year, it was different being able to show up and expect to win,” Fry said. “You really have the confidence with everyone. We are stacked, so you know we have the talent. [I] just want to be a piece of it.
“I’ve got almost 100 percent of the strength back in my leg and my toe, and all the restrictions I had are almost full go now. It’s been six weeks, so now we have scar tissues formed, and we are lifting weights or at least doing some leg workouts, not so much weight. I don’t have any more numbness or tingling or pain. So, it’s also helped me mentally. That was day to day, every day there was pain. It’s helping a lot.”