Under any circumstance, Red Sox prospectSam Travis would have been thrilled to see his college buddy Kyle Schwarber playing -- and winning -- the World Series.But considering what Travis was going through in October, and what Schwarber had gone through in the months leading up to the Fall Classic, the
Under any circumstance, Red Sox prospectSam Travis would have been thrilled to see his college buddy Kyle Schwarber playing -- and winning -- the World Series.
But considering what Travis was going through in October, and what Schwarber had gone through in the months leading up to the Fall Classic, the inspiration he gained from his former teammate at Indiana University was taken to another level.
Playing left field in Arizona in just the third game of the season, Schwarber had a nasty collision with teammate William Fowler and tore his left ACL for a season-ending injury. Well, at least that was the presumption. Schwarber did make it back just in time for that little event known as the World Series.
Then, there was Travis. He was coming off a terrific Spring Training in which he hit .469 for the Red Sox before starting the season at Triple-A Pawtucket. On May 29, the first baseman was in the process of making a tag on a rundown play when he sustained a torn ACL in his left knee.
"I actually talked to him quite a bit," said Travis, who participated in rookie camp in Boston last week. "He was kind of one step ahead of me at all times -- it happened a little earlier for him than it happened to me. He kind of just gave me the lowdown and what it was like, and that it was a grind -- you've just got to embrace it."
Not only did Schwarber play in the World Series, but he played a key role in the Cubs winning it all for the first time since 1908. Serving as the DH for the four games in Cleveland, Schwarber went 7-for-17.
If Travis -- ranked No. 10 among first-base prospects by MLBPipeline.com -- had been a little further ahead in his rehab at the time, he probably would have jumped out of his chair each time Schwarber got a hit.
"It actually worked out that I had someone to talk to about it like him, and it was great to see what he did in the World Series," Travis said. "I was super jacked up for him. He's a great friend of mine, so I wanted to see him do well and it was a lot of fun to watch him, that's for sure."
It might not be that long before Red Sox fans can watch Travis, who is in the final stages of his rehab and should be fully healthy by Spring Training.
"It's been a lot more work this offseason," Travis said. "I had to gain a lot more ground in a short amount of time, but I feel stronger than ever and I'm ready to go. The plan was to be ready for Spring Training and I'm ready to go, so that's it."
If you were frustrated Boston didn't make a run at Edwin Encarnacion during the offseason, consider that the presence of Travis is a key reason why.
The Red Sox instead signed Mitch Moreland to a one-year deal.
"We really like Sam Travis a lot," said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "We don't think he's going to be ready [to play in the Majors] in the beginning of the season because of the injury last year, but if you sign somebody for an extended time period that's a first baseman/DH, you don't have room for Sam Travis as you go forward. We really felt it would be better to go on a short-term basis for that guy."
The laser-focused Travis isn't about to start thinking big picture now.
"My main focus is to get healthy, get back on the field and control what I can control," Travis said. "The best way to go about it is to pretend like it never happened. You don't want to think about it when you're running or walking. You want to go about it just like a regular day, and that's what I'm doing.
"I think it just definitely makes you tougher. Like I said, it's a grind, and you've just got to go into it and embrace it and not feel sorry for yourself and keep pushing."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and **Facebook**.