° empty

Injury keeps McDonald from playing in tournament

VIDALIA — An injury was the only thing keeping young Vidalia resident Rhet McDonald away from winter baseball on a big stage.

McDonald, 11, was recently selected to participate in the Stars and Stripes Baseball Winter World Championships in Orlando Thursday through Dec. 31. The event features USSSA travel ball players from across the country, and McDonald qualified by being named All-State in Louisiana for USSSA travel ball.

But an enlarged growth plate in his throwing shoulder from which McDonald is just now recovering prevented the young pitcher, catcher and shortstop from making the trip to Orlando, Fla., this week.

“I wanted to go, but didn’t,” a disappointed McDonald said. “It wasn’t very fun.”

McDonald injured his shoulder during Concordia Dixie Youth All-Stars this past summer, and he was forced to stop throwing for four months. Though he’s recently done some lighting throwing drills, McDonald’s father, Shaun, said it was too soon to ask his son to throw in games.

“I was really excited (for him),” Shaun said. “I wish he wasn’t hurt for so long, but we’ll work hard and try to get back there next year. I let him play football and swing (a bat), he just couldn’t throw for four months.”

The Stars and Stripes event offered the chance to get coached by professional players and coaches, Shaun said, Though he wanted to go, Rhet admitted he was nervous about being in front of a large audience.

“I just made me nervous, having to play in front of a lot of people,” Rhet said.

In the meantime, Rhet is working with local hitting coach Trey Barnes, and he recently got some pointers from a current big-leaguer. Colorado Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson hosted a workout at Brookhaven Academy, his alma mater, a little more than a week ago.

“It was good,” Rhet said of working with Dickerson. “He’s funny. He just jokes around and makes it fun.”

Shaun said he appreciated the feedback Dickerson gave him about his son.

“It was really interesting,” Shaun said. “He said Rhet has a solid base and is well-coached, and he listens well and understands baseball.”

Rhet also said he was impressed with the amount of knowledge Dickerson has as a major leaguer.

“He knows a lot,” Rhet said. “His hitting really stood out.”