The 2019 baseball season was a challenging year for Travis Jankowski, who was injured early in spring camp. The San Diego Padres’ outfielder did receive a lot of comfort during this trying time from his newborn son Bentley.
It was late March, and Travis Jankowski returned home from an exhausting day of workouts in Peoria.
Usually, the San Diego Padres’ outfielder would be engrossed with game film, pitching reports, and timing sequences for his batting motion in preparation for the season that was days away. Sadly, a wrist injury a few weeks before resulted in a broken bone in his right arm. For the first time in his professional career, a significant injury had sidelined the speedy outfielder. This was a strange time for Jankowski. A time that was difficult to cope.
His days in camp were now full of leg workouts and whatever the outfielder could do with one arm. “The rehab process was monotonous. I had to compete with myself to stay focused. Not being able to go out there (and play) was very tough,” Jankowski said while hanging his head. “Everyday we were watching the games, and it wasn’t the best for my mental state. I wanted to be in there,” the outfielder admitted. Though it was challenging to be there, he supported his teammates in Peoria. He worked hard to get back into action.
Physically, Jankowski may have reported working each day in the desert, but he was going through a very tough time in regards to his career. The 2019 season was supposed to be a time for the outfielder to “break out” and establish himself in the league. He came into Peoria with a lot of confidence, and all that came to an end on a diving attempt in early March. “That is who I am. That is how I play the game. I make plays like that to get pitchers out of an inning,” Jankowski said about the play that damaged his wrist.
Truth be told, if this injury had happened a year prior, he may not have been able to survive.
Travis and Lindsay Jankowski had been trying for a baby since the couple was married in late 2017. On Sept. 18, 2018, the couple was blessed with a newborn son. Bentley Jaxon Jankowski was born, and the whole experience humbled the couple and especially the Padres outfielder. “We prayed for him, and he is a blessing. We will do anything for him,” Jankowski said of his infant son. “Honestly, the only way to describe it is by experiencing it. Nothing else in the world matters,” Jankowski remarked about the surreal feeling of being a father.
The arrival of Bentley efficiently helped the outfielder get through his difficult times with his playing career. Having his son put life into perspective for the baseball player. Suddenly, the failures of the game, which are often, meant less to him. Whether or not he had a good game, his family would always be there for him to support him. This spring, Bentley saved Travis from a lot of pain. You would think having a baby would deprive you of sleep, but Jankowski slept better with Bentley nearby. “It was a saving grace. I got through each day with the thought that I can go home and spend the day with Bentley and my wife,” Jankowski said. If not for his son, Jankowski would have gotten no sleep worrying about his playing time and the issues that accompanied his wrist injury. His nights would have been difficult, indeed.
Six-to-eight weeks after the injury and an optimistic Travis Jankowski went to the doctor to check on the progression of his wrist.
“The bone has shown zero signs of healing. It was a tough moment. I was supposed to be back by then, and the bone is showing zero signs of healing,” Jankowski said while shaking his head. “The doctor didn’t really have any answers for me. He said it was just a tricky bone to heal. There was low blood supply to that bone. We did injections, whatever the doctor recommended to help the bone heal.”
This was, again, a tough moment for the young outfielder. He knew his 2019 season would be in jeopardy. This would be a very trying year.
The doctor’s visit was rough, but again his life at home with his brand new family put things into a fantastic perspective for the outfielder. He would continue his hard work on rehab and keeping his body in shape, but at the same time, he would benefit from his life as a father.
“It was cool to be with him all the time. If he had a bad night sleeping, it was cool to be able to be the one to get up with him. There were some benefits to the injury, I guess,” Jankowski admitted with a smile. His time with his son and these precious early moments created a sort of balance in the Padres outfielder.
The healing process took far longer than Jankowski expected. His family helped him through the process, but it was not an easy task. “After 14 total weeks, it was finally healed up. It was the middle of June before I could even pick up a bat again. Going through the rehab progression, I knew I would not be back until after the All-Star break,” Jankowski said about his healing process and mindset after he regained some strength in his wrist. “We were .500 at the break. I felt I could still help this team win. As the team went through a funk, plans changed, and I feel I was pushed to the side a little bit. That is when it really struck me that this was going to be a really tough year.”
He worked his tail off to get back to a high level of play, but the team seemed intrigued with giving at-bats to other left-handed-hitting outfielders.
His promotion back to San Diego after the injury did not happen as soon as he thought it was going to. That was another battle for Jankowski as he struggled to realize his worth. “I thought I put up a good enough showing in Triple-A to be up sooner than when I was. I guess the team had different plans,” Jankowski said with disappointment in his voice. As a baseball player, you know that you cannot control everything. Not being promoted was tough, but Jankowski battled in El Paso, posting a .732 OPS in 41 games. “Honestly, right now, I am just trying to be a part of this team moving forward. It is a tricky scenario where we are at right now,” Jankowski said at the closing of the 2019 season.
The outfielder is acutely aware of the situation he is presently in with the Padres. He will need to grind some more to get at-bats and earn a spot on the 26-man roster next season. “Deep down, I know that I am a big piece on a winning team. I hope it is with the Padres, but I know I bring value to teams,” Jankowski said.
When asked about what he could take away from the difficult year, his answer was quite clear. “Until the injury happened, I never knew how tough it was to get through an injury during the season. Perseverance. You don’t know how tough you are until life squares you right in the jaw,” Jankowski explained. “It was a pretty tough year, but I know if I can get through this year, I can get through anything.”
With Bentley by his side, there is no doubt in his mind.