The game’s never over until the last man’s out and Chemainus baseball standout Zach Diewert is still very much in the game.
Despite some injury troubles the last two seasons, Diewert, who turns 23 in December, has one last crack at playing college ball in the U.S. coming up to see if he can attract attention for the Major League Baseball draft or perhaps move on to an independent professional league after that.
In either case, Diewert will keep swinging with every ounce of his energy for a shot at realizing his dream of playing professional baseball.
The talent is there with an especially lethal bat and outstanding defensive attributes in the outfield, but shoulder and hamstring problems have hampered his ability to reach full potential.
“I was talking to a couple of pro teams last year till I got injured,” he said.
Diewert has always maintained a strong work ethic lifting weights and working out to keep up with the physical demands of the game.
After two seasons at Polk State College in Florida where he became a bonafide star, Diewert advanced to National Collegiate Athletic Association Div. 1 ball at the University of Missouri but did not end up playing for the Tigers and red-shirted (sat out) the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
He had the surgery on Feb. 22, 2018. “I got injured a month before that on Jan. 22,” Diewert indicated with a precise recollection of the dates.
His recovery time was expected to be 6-8 weeks with a 75 per cent labrum tear. “It was pretty invasive surgery,” Diewert conceded.
But he bounced back quickly. “I got back to just throwing,” Diewert noted. “They didn’t want me to do anything too rushed.”
By the end of the school year, Diewert decided to pass on returning to Missouri and his new destination became Div. 2 Florida Southern, close to where he previously played at Polk.
“I wanted to get a fresh start.” he indicated. “I missed the Florida weather.”
It turned out to be a smooth move for him and Diewert made a valuable contribution to the team. He got into the first 33 games of the 52-game schedule with Florida Southern before the injury bug hit again.
“I pulled my hamstring mid-game rounding first base,” he pointed out. “I felt it a week before, too. It was kind of aggravating more.”
The doctor said it would be three to six weeks to rest it and there was only five weeks left in the season at the time. Diewert tried to come back on the second to last weekend, but pulled it again and it was game over not only for Florida Southern, but also for summer ball.
Diewert returned home to Chemainus in mid-May and continued working hard with his training and hitting balls for countless hours at the Chemainus Ball Park with dad Ken doing the pitching. He’s now returned to Florida Southern for the school year and baseball training in advance of exhibition games.
The shoulder has felt great and Diewert just needs the hamstring to follow suit. He’s optimistic of success and intends to make the most of his final college baseball season.
Diewert will also finish his degree in Business Administration in 2020.
“Even if I went to pro ball earlier, I would have wanted to go back and get my degree,” he conceded.
So, in a roundabout way, everything is working out. Diewert just needs to have a big season to make a pitch for the professional ranks.
“I just want to stay healthy,” he said. “It’s been a while since I played every game.”