Bieber nearly back: 'Feels good to feel good'

September 21st, 2021

CLEVELAND -- The Akron RubberDucks told not to focus on the fact that it was a must-win game for the team to qualify for the playoffs when he made his second rehab start on Sunday. So before he left, he returned the favor.

Bieber didn’t see the results he was hoping for, putting Akron in an early deficit, but the team was able to rally from behind in the eighth inning to secure the win and a spot in the playoffs. Although Bieber didn’t hang around until the end of the game, he had a feeling the team was going to pull it out and left money behind to pay for champagne for the team to celebrate with.

“Well, I hope they used the money for the champagne. Either the champagne or the casino,” Bieber joked, with a laugh. “I was checking Twitter periodically and then saw that they won and sent out a couple of text messages and congratulations. I was excited for them.”

It was a thrilling night for Akron and an encouraging step for Bieber, even if he gave up three runs on a walk and three hits -- including two homers -- with four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.

“Obviously the results weren’t what I wanted, but ultimately at this point, it feels good to feel good and feel healthy and get some good work in,” Bieber said. “I think looking back to the outing in Akron, I think a little bit of it was just execution-based and trying to get myself back and tighten up the screws, so to speak.”

So we’re left with the question that has been asked of Bieber countless times since he landed on the injured list in June: What’s next? This time, finally, he’s hoping the next step will be pitching in a Major League game before the end of the homestand.

“That's the hope,” Bieber said. “We've still got to talk about it, figure things out. When I say it like, I know the times we've checked in periodically, we keep it day by day. I'm not lying to you. It's a little bit tough for me sometimes, but that's kind of how it goes.

"I think all in all, looking forward and back on this process, I understand why they do it that way. I think it's probably the best way to do it, not to just set any unreachable goals or set standards too high or a bar too high or something like that. Truly do take it one or two days at a time.”

Bieber originally had a timetable of going two weeks without throwing. When that time period expired, the club quickly decided against placing any other expectations on the ace, allowing him to work through his rehab at whatever pace he needed. He hoped that he’d be able to make 10 more starts this year, but now, he’s excited for the possibility of at least making one.

“It's my job and I love to do it,” Bieber said. “However many times I get to go out there and throw, I'll just be happy to do it. Like I said, just to feel good feels good again.”