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    Sunday, April 02, 2023

    Patience stays a virtue for Jesse Hahn

    Kansas City Royals pitcher Jesse Hahn throws during spring training baseball practice Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

    You think you're impatient here in the new abnormal? Try being Jesse Hahn, the former whiz kid from Fitch, who has endured two major elbow injuries to finally enjoy good health — and an uninterrupted year in the majors.

    "I'm chomping at the bit," Hahn said earlier this week, visiting his home in Groton, soon to be back home in Peoria, Ariz., waiting for the season to begin.

    The righthander, who will be pitching out of the bullpen for the Kansas City Royals, missed all of the 2018 season and most of 2019 enduring what he calls a "half Tommy John surgery," only to be back in 11 months (instead of 18) and ready to go again.

    Then came COVID-19, another reminder about patience and all the other lessons injuries have taught him.

    "I've learned to be patient," Hahn said. "I've learned to stay positive. It's not easy. I have proved to myself the value in sticking to the process. It pays in the end. It's nice now to be able to be part of the rewards."

    Hahn, drafted in the sixth round by Tampa Ray in 2010 by way of Virginia Tech, endured his first elbow ailment the same year and took 15 months to heal. He's 30 now (31 in July) and an alumnus of two elbow injuries, finally ready to contribute. He's a member of Kansas City's 40-man roster and hopes to be a starter sooner, not later.

    "The (virus) time off could be a blessing," Hahn said. "The extra time off can't hurt. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason."

    Hahn was always the 'other guy' coming from Fitch's program, the co-star to Matt Harvey. Both have done nothing but illustrate the quality of Ed Harvey's program. It's not normal that a small high school from the cold northeast produces two major leaguers in such close proximity.

    Maybe that's why Hahn, despite his new address in Arizona, hasn't forgotten his roots.

    "First and foremost, my dad (Fred) has affected my life tremendously," Hahn said. "He's the main guy. He means the world to me. In everyday life, he's always been the one to show me the right thing. I've always strived to be the man he is. I've always looked up to him."

    Fred Hahn has been a fixture at baseball games throughout the region, not merely the games in which his son has been involved. It's helped Hahn, who has been part of the Rays, San Diego Padres, Oakland A's and Royals organizations, keep a footprint in our corner of the world.

    "I've tried to stay in touch with all my guys here," Hahn said. "Matt (Harvey) when I can. All the Halls (Mike, George, Mark and George Sr.), Mike Evans. Just talking to them, being with them and talking sports. It's really important to me."

    Hahn knows the Royals will do with him what they will. But he's still got some time left in that arm.

    "I wish my arm felt like it did when I was 21," he said. "But I've learned throughout all this how to work smarter. My nutrition is at another level. It's helped me learn a lot."

    m.dimauro@theday.com

    Kansas City Royals pitcher Jesse Hahn participates in a drill during a baseball spring training workout, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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