In September, Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman returned to the mound...
"I watched a video of him, the first time out, and the strikeout," Rangers manager Jeff Banister remembers. "I still get chills from it."
After three surgeries, Diekman's battle with ulcerative colitis is behind him.
"A year ago, I was six days from getting surgery, and I was super nervous," Diekman said. "Now, I'm not nervous about anything."
And that attitude -- well, it couldn't be anymore perfect for a relief pitcher.
"When I came back, nothing really bothered me on the mound anymore," Diekman said. "If I gave up a hit or a walk, or whatever, gave up a run, I really didn't care. Like, I want to do the best that I can possibly do. But it's not life or death."
That approach -- and his impressive effectiveness on the mound -- has led some to wonder if Diekman will be the Rangers closer in 2018. But when asked directly, Diekman tap-danced a little.
"That's a pretty pressure-packed situation, and you live & die on a tight rope," Diekman said. "And I like, um, excitement in my life."
The Skipper's thoughts on that?
"He is a significant pitcher in our bullpen," Banister said, "a guy that's a force, that we feel like is an impact player on this team."
Regardless of where Diekman lands in the Rangers bullpen, expect success.
"I feel like, mentally and physically, I feel like I can go out and dominate."
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