Rehabilitating a surgically repaired shoulder was the most demanding process of Tampa Bay outfielder Luke Scott's professional baseball career. The former Oklahoma State star spent the first six weeks of 2012 in Oklahoma City working with trainer John Carey.
The final step before joining a new team at spring training was working all of January and early February with Carey, who owns SWAT, which stands for strength, wellness and athletic therapy.
Carey said Scott's exercises were specialized. A strength program was tweaked per recommendation by Dr. James Andrews.
“So far, so good,” Carey said.
This season, the 33-year-old Scott is among the American League RBI leaders. With 121 career homers, he's a key offensive cog on the pitching-rich Rays, who could be a postseason threat if the lineup provides steady production.
This is Scott's second major surgery. He had elbow surgery 11 years ago. This time, doctors placed seven “anchors” in Scott's shoulder, five on the backside, two on the front.
“Tommy John (surgery) wasn't as hard as this one,” Scott told the Bradenton Herald. “I've had a lot of challenges in my life and my faith has gotten me through it. I try to look at things from the positive side.”
Carey is the ultimate positive influence, a new wave trainer who incorporates every aspect of modern medicine.
Carey wrestled and played football at Guthrie High School. He earned a degree at Langston.
Two decades later, Carey, 44, impacts baseball players at various levels.
Carey has worked with more than a dozen baseball players Other clients have included St. Louis All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday and Minnesota right-hander Scott Baker.
In last week's Major Baseball League Draft, three Carey players were selected in the first round: OSU pitcher Andrew Heaney (Marlins); shortstop Gavin Cecchini (Mets) and Edmond Santa Fe's Ty Hensley (Yankees).
Another Carey client is Leedey High shortstop Drew Ward. A junior next year, Ward might become the highest-drafted position player out of Oklahoma in years.
Carey typically sees Scott four or five days a month. He's spending this week with Scott in Tampa Bay. Holliday was a regular until the Cardinals expanded their training staff this season.
Road trips are common, but Carey also spends a lot of time in Oklahoma City.
“He is very thorough,” said Heaney, a former Putnam City High School standout. “He doesn't just tell you to get in the weight room and get jacked. He works on everything from your diet, to sleep to weight training and flexibility. That's what's different about him. He's the whole package.”
Next week, Carey will spend a few days with Baker in Minnesota. Baker, a 30-year-old former OSU pitcher, has 63 career wins. He is out for the season following Tommy John surgery.
“We're confident he'll be as good as he was before the surgery, possibly better, after we go through the rehab process step by step,” Carey said.
Carey also works with high school players who sign up for 10-session packages.
“I teach kids to stretch, how to take care of themselves,” Carey said. “I'm a physical therapist by trade. I first evaluate their bodies from head to toe. I try to discover if there might be a potential orthopedic problem like a knee, back, elbow or shoulder.
“Then I put together their strength and conditioning package — a speed, agility and strength program — based off my health assessment. It sort of differentiates me from your typical strength coach. If a kid calls and said he's tweaked his back, as a physical therapist, I can help him.”
Carey said stretching is underemphasized, which is why he's part of a second venture. He's a partner in a company called Stretch U.
“He takes your body and helps it perform at the highest level,” said Santa Fe's Hensley said. “He keeps your joints clean. Before we lift or do anything, we stretch from your ears to your toes. Working with him, you get the whole package.”
Carey's work with pro athletes actually began with veteran pro golfer Bill Glasson while Carey worked for the OSU Wellness Center.
Glasson, who had elbow surgery 16 years ago, dealt with chronic back, neck and elbow issues. Carey helped revive Glasson's career. This past weekend, Glasson, 52, was in contention at the Regions Tradition, the second Champions Tour major.
While at Oklahoma State, Carey met then-Cowboys star catcher Josh Holliday. Carey said Holliday had a “dead arm” in high school. That led to relationships with Holliday's younger brother, Matt, as well as Baker and Scott.
Early clients were built around OSU ties. Carey left Stillwater 11 years ago. A decade later, he's branched out.
“I have one of the best jobs on the planet,” Carey said. “You get an enormous amount of satisfaction from this job. I'm in and out of airports and Major League stadiums, but I also work with local kids on a regular basis. It's very rewarding.”
JOHN CAREY CLIENTS
OF Luke Scott (Tampa Bay)
OF Matt Holliday (St. Louis)
P Scott Baker (Minnesota)
2B Brian Roberts (Baltimore)
P Kameron Loe (Milwaukee)
SS Jack Wilson (Atlanta)
P Andrew Heaney (Marlins 1st Rd. pick)
SS Gavin Cecchini (Mets 1st Rd. pick)
P Ty Hensley (Yankees 1st Rd. pick)
P Erik Cordier (Atlanta Triple-A)
P Jake Odorizi (Royals Triple-A)
P Ross Seaton (Astros Triple-A)
P Chad James (Marlins High-A)