By Todd Johnson
I can’t even imagine. First, in 2014, it was a back injury that sidelined catcher Will Remillard. He returned to the Cubs’ organization the next spring before suffering an elbow injury before the season began that required Tommy John surgery. He came back to spring training in 2016 and re-injured the elbow and needed a second Tommy John surgery. However, in the past 10 days, he has returned.
He first appeared quietly and without fanfare playing in three rookie league games in Mesa. Then, on Tuesday night, I tuned in to the Eugene Emeralds game and there he was behind the plate catching for Jose Albertos. For the night he went three for four and his magical bat looked like it had not been missing for three years. I expect him to be behind the dish tonight or at least in the lineup as a DH.
I think his comeback the feel-good story of the year. I know that the season ends in 10 days, but it has to feel good for him.
I first saw Will play in 2014 for the Kane County Cougars. The former Coastal Carolina catcher and 2013 draft pick commanded the field whenever he played. He displayed leadership, poise, and a desire to win. He hit .286 with a .372 OBP. Before his back injury, he was leading the team in runs batted in with 26 and was a Midwest League All-Star. He may have arguably been the top catching prospect before Wilson Contreras blossomed the next year.
There are three things why you should pay attention to his return.
He really is a second manager on the field. He takes charge of everything when he is behind the plate. He gets on the pitchers when he needs to, he commands the defense, and never sits still. He . often can be seen throwing behind runners at first and third
2. The Stick
While he is highly regarded it as a defender and a leader, Remillard can also handle a bat pretty well. He’s not gonna hit for a lot of power but he will hit for average.
Whenever I traversed acrossed DeKalb and Kane counties to watch him play, I could not take my eyes off of whatever he was doing. Some circles may call him a baseball rat, others may want to pp file him as just a catcher, but there is a genuine magnetism that comes as he plays. It’s not like that something that Cub fans have seen in the past from Ryan Theriot or Tony Campana that was born of hustle. This is different. You feel as if you’re watching someone that was born to win. And it is contagious.
Out of all the players on that 2014 Cougars championship team, Will was my favorite. I’m glad to see him playing, but I’m even happier for him that he gets another chance to fulfill his dream.