If you could choose any superhero to take the mound for the Texas Rangers, who would you choose?
“On social media he looked like Superman,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. “It was eye-popping.”
Okay, Jake Diekman may not be Superman, but following surgery to have his colon removed last season, he is putting over two decades of battling inflammatory bowel disease behind him.
“I’ve seen him a number of times without a shirt on and it was incredible,” said Banister. “And then he walks into camp, and we’ve never seen him like that.”
“That” being a strong, healthy 220 lbs. He had dropped 40 lbs. amidst three colon surgeries.
Diekman is now ready not only to contribute to the Rangers bullpen, but maybe even serve as the closer.
“I see myself as whatever the coaching staff views me as,” Diekman said. “I like pitching at the back end of games. I feel like I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie that way.”
Diekman is thankful to his teammates for helping him “gut it out,” which also happens to be the name of the foundation he and his newlywed wife, Amanda, started to help improve the quality of life for those suffering from IBD.
“The support from all the Gut It Out shirts and everything meant the world,” he said. “When they wore ’em that day in the spring last year, that was really, really cool. It was special.”
And now he’s hoping 2018 will be a special year on the mound.