Ivan De Jesus Jr. seems poised for call
He keeps a photo of the collision on his cell phone and looks at it every day before he plays.
"I don't want to forget that time," Ivan De Jesus Jr. said. "It will stay with me my whole life."
In an instant, De Jesus Jr. went from a budding star in spring training to the disabled list with a badly broken left leg. His season was over before it began, all because of one freakish incident at home plate.
A year and a half later, De Jesus is back on the field, having a great season at second base for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, and poised for a September call-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he has moved forward in his life and career, he still believes there is something to be learned from the play that nearly derailed his career.
"I have the photo, but I would like to see a video of that game so I can see what I did wrong, what happened," he said.
That attitude is a big part of the reason De Jesus Jr. has made it so far back, so quickly. When doctors told him he'd miss the entire season last year, he pushed himself hard in rehab so he could be back to play in the Arizona instructional league in the fall.
"I always tried to do everything they told me and just a little bit more," he said. "I worked hard every day, did all the treatments at the field. Then when I'd get home I'd put ice on it for a few hours."
At one point, he pushed himself a little too far. During winter ball in his native Puerto Rico, his leg started feeling terrible and he had to shut his season down early.
It was an important lesson, a reminder just how far the road back really was. Now, even when he's feeling close to 100 percent, he still ices after every game and goes through his exercises to strengthen the leg before and after he plays.
De Jesus Jr. is hitting .298 with 64 RBIs, 82 runs, seven home runs and a career-high 31 doubles in 122 Triple-A games this season. He also has played a slick second base with a .974 fielding percentage.
If he harbors any resentment about the injury that cost him almost an entire year, he doesn't show it.
"It happens. That's in the past already. I have to thank God that I made it back, that I'm healthy again and doing my thing," he said. "I know I'm going to be there, I just have to keep working and doing my stuff."
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Here's a look at some other Dodgers prospects in line for a September call-up:
Xavier Paul*, OF, Albuquerque (AAA): Versatile outfielder has already had three stints with the Dodgers in 2010. Nothing left to prove in Triple-A, batting .325 with 12 home runs.
Trayvon Robinson*, OF, Chattanooga (AA): Has impressed at Double-A with a .300 average and 38 stolen bases.
John Ely*, RHP, Albuquerque: Held down Dodgers' fifth starter's role for a few months this year, but was sent down to work on consistency.
Jon Link*, RHP, Albuquerque: Great makeup and attitude for a reliever. Has a 3.81 ERA in 59 innings for the Isotopes.
Travis Schlichting*, RHP, Albuquerque: Dealing with shoulder soreness, otherwise would be a shoo-in for a call-up.
John Lindsey, 1B, Albuquerque: Having the best season of his career at age 33. In line for his first call-up, but Dodgers have to decide if they have a need for him.
Russ Mitchell: 3B, Albuquerque: Excellent defensive third baseman having an outstanding year at the plate: .326, 23 HRs, 85 RBIs.
Justin Sellers: SS, Albuquerque: Slick-fielding shortstop has turned heads at the plate this season, belting a career-high 13 HRs with a .289 average.
Josh Lindblom: RHP, Albuquerque: Joe Torre fell in love with this hard-throwing righty two years ago in spring training, but Dodgers are still figuring out whether he's a reliever or a starter. He has struggled this year, but the team is still high on him.
AJ Ellis*, C, Albuquerque: Sent down when the Dodgers acquired Rod Barajas, but should be recalled for depth when rosters expand.
Brent Leach*, LHP, Chattanooga: Struggled in Triple-A (6.81 ERA) but has recovered nicely in Double-A, going 7-3 with a 4.57 ERA.
* Denotes players currently on the Dodgers' 40-man roster.Ramona Shelburne is a writer and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow her on Twitter.
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