BRADENTON -- Nick Goody's baseball career was in jeopardy, and he couldn't bear to watch the game he loved.
The former State College of Florida and LSU standout underwent Tommy John surgery last year. The scar on his right elbow is a reminder of a difficult time, when baseball became an afterthought for the New York Yankees pitching prospect.
"Mentally, it definitely wears on you," the 22-year-old Goody said Friday. "I think for four months I didn't watch baseball. I didn't care to watch baseball. You see everyone you played with making their dreams become reality. But one thing it did, though, was it made me mentally stronger. It grew my faith with God, and I just realized everything happens for a reason."
Goody was in town this week for the Tampa Yankees' series with the Bradenton Marauders. He pitched in relief Friday, allowing a hit and striking out three in two scoreless innings while getting the victory in a 3-2 Tampa victory
A shortstop in high school, Goody became the ace of the SCF rotation, recording a 19-strikeout game in his sophomore season.
The Yankees drafted Goody in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft after his SCF career, but he opted for Division I ball at LSU.
With the Tigers, Goody became a dependable closer, and New York came calling again, this time in the sixth round.
Goody enjoyed a strong first season in the minors, compiling a 1.12 earned-run average and seven saves for three different teams.
He started the 2013 season with the Tampa Yankees, but suffered the elbow injury in his second outing. Dr. James Andrews, a renowned orthopedic surgeon who boasts vast experience with Tommy John surgery, performed the procedure on Goody.
"He's saved a lot of careers, so just to be able to meet him and get the work done by him knowing that he's done everybody (helped)," Goody said.
Goody slowly worked himself back into baseball activities. After about a month of throwing just fastballs, Goody expanded his repertoire to include a change-up. Then he mixed in a couple sliders.
"It gradually builds up, but nothing can simulate being in a game," Goody said. "Because that's when it's ... 100 percent. So it took time to get that stuff sharp enough to where it needs to be."
Goody returned to game action May 6, but he has a pitch limit. He pitches Tuesdays and Fridays with a pitch count of roughly 30 to 35.
Goody started four games this season -- his longest outing was 1 2/3 innings -- while coming out of the bullpen in his past three appearances. He owns a 2-0 record with a 3.48 ERA. He also pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday during the Marauders' 9-6 victory over the Yankees in Tampa.
"I knew the most I'd go in a start is one or two innings, because I'm on a pitch count obviously coming off of surgery," Goody said. "They want to get you clean innings. Get you in and get you out. ... Then slowly, gradually put you in the bullpen and have you work out of there. As a starter, it was different. Even though I was throwing one or two innings, it was just like any other day. You have to take it like it's the bottom of the ninth inning or this is the eighth inning. So it was a little different with the mindset. Then coming out of the bullpen, this really is the eighth inning in a tied ballgame and you have to get the job done."
Being in Bradenton is a treat for Goody.
"This is where it really all started, so it's always nice to come back home and have a bunch of people here to support me," Goody said. "This is a big family here, and it's awesome."