WMBD/WYZZ-TV - PEORIA, Ill -- He's the guy everybody wants to see.
A number one pick that fans and players clamor to see perform.
"At first it took some getting used to because that's a lot of pressure," said Cubs 2010 draft pick Hayden Simpson. "Pressure on your teammates, too. I know they want to see me do well. And I want to do well."
But it seems Simpson's professional career is star-crossed. The 22-year-old pitcher drafted out of Southern Arkansas last summer contracted mononucleosis before he could even throw his first pitch as a pro.
He missed all of last season battling the illness.
"Doctors said there wasn't much you're going to be able to do with the virus the way it was,." said Simpson. "I was trying to get back as quickly as I could. You rush into things when stuff like
that happens. You want to get back to where you were so quickly."
After a very slow start to this season (1-6, 5.72 earned run average), Simpson admits he's trying to avoid negative thoughts.The kind of thoughts that tell you that you can't return to the greatness you had before the illness.
"You try and keep it out of your head but you can't help it.," said the soft-spoken Simpson. "Those thoughts do creep in. You try and get them out of your head as quickly as you can."
Now that he's finally over the mono, Simpson's next goal is to try and prove the Cubs were
right in making him their first selection in last summer's draft. But he'll have to do that in Mesa, Arizona.
That's where the Cubs sent him this week. It's where they gather their rookies.
"It's like any job. You do what you're told," said Simpson. "You know the coaches are
looking out for your best interests. So you try and keep that in perspective."
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