Feb. 9, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
Zach Sipe is one of only four seniors on the 2012 squad, including the only senior on the pitching staff. The native of Huffman, Texas talked with NavySports.com about his offseason surgery and his resolve to get back on the mound and be better than ever this season.
After having surgery this past summer, talk about the rehabbing you did to get ready for this year.
"I had my surgery in July and went straight to NAPS (Naval Academy Prep School). From the time I got there I started rehabbing for several hours a day; I did some scar therapy, weight therapy and some resistance work. When I got back to Annapolis, I was ready to start throwing on a limited basis. I started throwing at 45 feet, then 60 and 90 feet and was finally able to get back on the mound at the end of fall ball."
How did it feel to finally get back on the mound?
"It felt good. It was actually a relief because I was pretty anxious about how my body would respond to surgery, so it felt really good.
"I had never had any surgery before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had some good advice on how to get back. I think the hardest thing for me was mentally preparing myself to get back on the mound and throw again, because it hurt the last time I was there throwing."
Was there anyone that you relied on for advice while you were going through the rehab and getting back to baseball?
"I talked to Nick Driscoll quite a bit. He had a similar surgery and he always told me about the importance of rehabbing and to trust that I was going to return stronger than before."
Talk about how tough last year was for you, knowing that you weren't 100% healthy.
"All year long, I told myself that if I wasn't going to be able to pitch, then my role on the team needed to be as more of a leader and more supportive of my teammates. The hardest part was sitting back and not being able to contribute after putting it all out on the field my first two years.
"It was bittersweet because I still got to be a part of everything, but I wasn't able to contribute."
Talk about the importance of your role as the only senior on the pitching staff.
"Being the only senior, I feel like I have more experience than most guys. Between Ben (Nelson) and I, we probably have the most experience, and he helps me out a lot. Since I'm the only senior, guys know who to go to for something, and then I go to Alex (Azor). I think it's easier for the younger guys, because they know there is just one guy to go to and that makes it a little simpler."
What are some of the best lessons you can teach the younger pitchers?
"I think how to persevere despite injury. Going through four years here without an injury would be a miracle. You're going to get banged up. I went from starting my first two years to pretty much being out all of last year. That contrast was really a setback, but I think it made me a stronger person. Now I can share with them that even if you are hurt or not playing, you always need to be there for your team."
Describe your current routine in getting ready for the start of the season.
"Coach Mau calls me `high maintenance' because, due to the injury, my throwing program is different from what you would normally see. He coached a guy in a similar situation to me and so we modify my throwing program depending on how I feel day-to-day. I go to the trainer every day to make sure I'm doing everything I can to be ready."
Talk about the opportunity to be in the starting rotation this season.
"It feels really good. I feel fortunate in the fact that my arm has responded the way it has. My velocity is coming back and my body feels good. As far as being able to come back as a starter, that's inevitably what I want to do and just do whatever I can to help the team. I really want to go out on a high note and get back to where we were last year."
What do you most look forward to at the start of baseball season?
"What I look forward to most is facing our own hitters in practice. We have fun and it's a good team rivalry. We're going out there to try and get the best of them in practice. When I'm facing them, I'm thinking I want them to do well, but right now I'm trying to strike them out.
"It's definitely a good challenge, especially between Alex and I because we've been together for five years, going back to NAPS. We like to go back and forth with each other and it's fun."
Talk about your service selection and what you'll be doing after graduation.
"I service selected Naval Flight Officer. I'm going to try and go to aviation flight school in Pensacola at the end of July and I'm hoping to fly the P-3 Orion."