Texas Rangers left-handed pitcher Sal Mendez has been around the game of baseball his entire life. His dad, a former player with the New York Yankees, was the one that introduced him to baseball.
When he was around two-years-old, his dad gave him a glove and ball and when Sal picked up the ball with his left hand.
Sal has been told by his family that his dad was ecstatic when he found out his son was going to be a lefty, saying something along the lines of, “Oh my god, he’s going to be a lefty! He’s going to be a lefty!”
After that moment, Sal and his father ran with it.
When Sal was five or six-years-old, he and his father would play catch at 7 or 7:30 in the morning before he would go off to school.
Picking up a ball and playing catch with his dad as a young child helped him get ready to start pitching, which he did at the age of nine.
After being exposed to the game of baseball, it was clear what Sal wanted to do for a living.
“You would go to school and the teacher asks you, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ You get these outrageous things from young kids and I have always said that I want to be a baseball player.”
As he continued to grow, Sal’s love for the game continued to blossom and it was a very easy decision for him to try to become a big leaguer.
In 2013, two weeks before the draft, Sal was pitching in a tournament and around the 4th or 5th inning, he felt some discomfort in his elbow and had to leave the game.
It was discovered that he sprained the UCL in his pitching elbow and to this day, Sal believes that after the injury, teams took him off their draft boards.
When the 2013 draft came around and Sal heard he was being drafted by the Texas Rangers, it was a dream come true.
After being drafted, the Rangers sent Mendez to a six week rehab program to help rehab his UCL and while rehabbing, he fully tore his UCL and needed to undergo Tommy John surgery.
The injury resulted in Mendez missing his first two seasons of pro ball.
It would have been easy for Mendez to throw in the towel and call it quits, but the strong support group around him that features his father and his agent, Phil Terrano of Primetime Sports Agents, wouldn’t allow him to do that.
“Every day that I get to wake up and still have a job in professional baseball, I can say that I am a professional pitcher.”
After all that he has gone through, that is something that Mendez will never take for granted.