Aardsma's grueling injury rehab pays off

Aardsma's grueling injury rehab pays off

TORONTO -- After David Aardsma completed his first Major League appearance in more than two years, the right-hander scanned his cell phone and found the expected array of text messages and voicemails from close friends and family members.

He also found himself scanning through many positive comments from people he hasn't met, and may never. Aardsma used his Twitter account, @TheDA53, as a tool to keep followers updated on his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and they have been with him every step of the way.

"It's great -- it kept me kind of in the loop, you know?" Aardsma said. "I was so out of it. I started Twitter after I had surgery with the Mariners, and yesterday was the first time I pitched with a Twitter account. It kind of kept me involved with what was going on around me and, in some ways, kept me relevant."

Aardsma made his Yankees debut in Thursday's 6-0 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, allowing a solo J.P. Arencibia home run in his first big league appearance since Sept. 19, 2010, as a member of the Mariners against the Rangers.

"It was unbelievable," Aardsma said. "I was so excited and nervous at the same time. It was just good to get back out there and get that first outing."

Aardsma made good on general manager Brian Cashman's prediction this spring that the former closer could appear at the big league level this season, though the Yankees signed the 30-year-old Aardsma with more of an eye toward being in their 2013 bullpen.

Aardsma's summer was spent mostly at the Yankees' training facilities in Tampa, Fla., featuring an endless cycle of rehab exercises and throwing programs, and the right-hander admits there were several moments when he fantasized about escaping Tampa. He said the most difficult part about his rehab was not having any guarantees.

"It's the realization that it might not happen, that everything you do won't happen, and getting over that," Aardsma said. "It's saying, 'Hey, get that out of your mind. No matter what you go through, you can't think like that.'

"You've got to stay positive, and that's the hardest part -- to not fall into that hole. Even though you're down in Tampa and there's no one else around you, you stay positive and say, 'I'm going to do this. I'm going to get there,' and keep plugging along."