Written by Doug Fernandes on December 22, 2014 | Herald-Tribune

 

Camp Kelly: Giving back to community

SARASOTA, Fla. – Saving both on blades and trips to the barber, Casey Kelly called the Grizzly Adams hair-beard ensemble his "rehab look."

 

Mother Kelly prefers another.

 

"My mom definitely wants me to cut it," he said.

 

No time for that Monday. Not with the former Sarasota High star kept on the move by about 80 youth hardballers learning the game at the sixth annual Casey Kelly All Pro Baseball Camp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As usual, the San Diego Padres right-hander got help showing kids age 5-12 the way the pros do it. Among those joining Kelly included brother Chris and dad Pat, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Atlanta Brave Tyler Pastornicky, former Sailor Joey Rapp, former Oriole Tim Raines Jr., and former Sailor and New York Met Wayne Garrett.

 

For Kelly and Desmond, another ex-Sailor, the setting sparked memories of honing skills years ago on the same Twin Lakes Park infield dirt and outfield grass.

 

"Yeah, except nowadays, these kids are way better than I was when I was that age," said Desmond, the Nationals' 29-year-old shortstop, who won his third straight Silver Slugger Award, given by each league to the top offensive player at each position. Desmond finished 2014 with 24 homers and 91 RBI.

 

A free agent after next season, Desmond said helping Kelly at the camp was one way of giving back to his community.

 

"Honestly, there are a lot of ways for us to give back," he said, "whether it's going back to our high school or just one-on-one individual stuff. But any time you get the chance to expand the game of baseball and give a little insight, that's what it's all about."

 

As for his own future, Desmond said the Nationals have yet to discuss a new contract. According to CBS Sports, he rejected last winter a six-year extension worth $80 million-$90 million. Avoiding arbitration, the two sides agreed in January to a two-year, $17.5-million deal.

 

"I think they got to figure out where they're going to allocate some of the money," Desmond said. "If the Nationals offer me a contract I can't refuse, or one that's even fair, I'll be more than happy to stay in Washington."

 

With 80 kids throwing, running and hitting, the camp quickly revealed differences in ability. Watching her 7-year-old son TJ from bleachers behind a fence, Elizabeth Besterman said it can be an eye-opening experience.

 

"I think he's learning how he's not as good as he thinks he is," she said. He's learning when he watches the kids around him that they can catch a pop (fly)."

 

That was TJ. His brother, 5-year-old Ryan, was asked what he liked about the camp.

"I don't know."

 

Its namesake liked everything, but Casey Kelly favors one thing even more — his health. For the first time in quite some time, the 25-year-old feels good.

 

It's been a long road getting there. The one-time first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox made his MLB debut with the Padres in August 2012.

 

Eight months later Kelly underwent Tommy John surgery. After months of rehab, he made four minor-league starts last season before straining his forearm.

 

Kelly received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection. He was shut down for six weeks, then resumed throwing.

 

"Being able to get into a couple of games before I got shut down again, kinda made me feel pretty comfortable that I still have the stuff and everything's still there," he said. So for spring training, I'll be 100 percent."

 

By then, the beard will be gone, the hair trimmed to an acceptable length.

 

Acceptable to mother Kelly.

 

 

(Direct link to publication: click here)