Barnes works through torn meniscusPublished 12:01am Thursday, June 20, 2013
NATCHEZ — It was the last game of fall ball, and Devin Barnes was trying to stretch a single into a double.
Unfortunately, that decision would end up costing the Vidalia High School alumnus an entire spring of baseball.
Barnes, a first baseman for Arkansas Baptist College, tore his meniscus on his right leg, forcing him to have surgery and spend his freshman season going through rehab. Every Tuesday and Thursday this past spring, Barnes said he worked diligently to recover.
“My recovery went well, and I’m back playing now,” Barnes said.
With a spring lost to baseball, Barnes opted to play in the Louisiana Collegiate League out of Shreveport in order to catch up on lost time. And Barnes said he still has a little ways to go getting back to 100 percent.
“It was really tough (missing the spring),” Barnes said. “Three weeks ago, I started back batting for the first time, and it was hard after not seeing live pitching in months. I had to adjust to that. I feel like I’m 80 percent there. I’ve yet to get a hit, but I’m making contact with the ball.”
During fall ball last year, Barnes played in split-squad games, in which he would start one game at first in a doubleheader. He said he was able to get 33 to 40 at-bats in the fall, but adjusting to college carried a sharp learning curve.
“The atmosphere is different,” Barnes said. “In college, you have people talking to you in the stands, and you don’t know a lot of people. I wasn’t used to playing in front of a big crowd.”
In his first at-bat, Barnes recalled desperately wanting to get a hit, only to end up striking out. The nerves stuck around, prompting him to call his father, George Barnes, for advice.
“I called him and said I was worried about everyone, and he said I just have to play my game and not worry about anyone else,” Devin Barnes said. “I’m adjusted to it now.”
One of the biggest differences between high school and college is the type of practices the team hosts every day.
“It wasn’t us just going to practice and doing the same thing every day,” Barnes said. “One day you’d work on hitting and hitting only, and the next day it would be fielding. The coaches would also do one-on-one drills with you if you’re an infielder on certain days.”
When summer ball is over, Barnes said he would return to Arkansas to play fall ball again. In between games, he’s also working out at his brother’s Next Level Academy clinic in Alexandria, La., getting his timing back.
“I feel very confident,” Barnes said of this coming season. “I feel like this will be my year.”
Barnes is also the son of Pamela Barnes.