Tyler Graham knows how to conquer adversity. Now he returns to the Winnipeg Goldeyes roster to help the team deal with some adversity of its own.
The 29-year-old centre-fielder is back in Winnipeg after a short stint with the Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz of the Mexican League.
"It feels great. I enjoyed my time here when I first got here and I got welcomed back by the coaches and the front office," Graham said. "From top to bottom this organization has been one of the best I've ever played for, so it was great to be able to come back."
'I have nothing to hang my head about down there. I played well and I did a lot of good things and now I get to come back here so I'm happy in all aspects'
During his time with Veracruz Graham hit for .311, a home run, two RBI and two stolen bases. However, Graham was also struck out 13 times in his 12 games in Mexico.
"You've got to produce and you've got to do things to help the team win. Unfortunately our team lost a lot of games while I was there and they decided to make some changes and I was the odd-man out."
Graham said. "I have nothing to hang my head about down there. I played well and I did a lot of good things and now I get to come back here so I'm happy in all aspects."
The return to the Winnipeg Goldeyes marks the fifth time Graham has started a stint with four different teams this season.
Graham started with the York Revolution of the Atlantic League before joining the Goldeyes' division rivals the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. On June 10, Graham was traded to Winnipeg for a player to be named later. After nine games in Winnipeg, Graham went down to test the waters in the Mexican League.
The endless travel, releases and rejection can be hard on an independent baseball player. But Graham has battled through it before and it's helped him flourish into a veteran player with a level head.
"Throughout my career I've been through a lot of adversity. The first couple times you face that it is tough, but the longer you play the easier it is to deal with the ups and downs of this game," Graham said. "I mean, the uncertainties and all of the things that are out of your control sometimes get into your head but you can battle through it and overcome it. I think that's when you become a true professional, when you can really deal with the failures and the adversity of this game and still have success."
The Winnipeg Goldeyes have been dealing with much adversity of their own, losing the first three games in a four-game series against the Gary SouthShore RailCats. Graham's first appearance in his second stint with the Goldeyes was a 7-2 loss thanks in part to four errors, two of them committed by Graham. However, Graham also had two hits while at the top of the batting order and was a threat to score once on the bases.
"My job is to get on base, steal bases, get into scoring position and score runs. I just do anything I can to do my job and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. This game is full of ups and downs and you've got to battle through them," Graham said.
Goldeyes manager Rick Forney didn't welcome the errors, but knows Graham is a piece of what has become a jumbled Winnipeg Goldeyes puzzle.
"We needed him back. We need him to get on base and score runs for us and play good defense," Forney said. "He got to the big leagues because he can run and play defence. He didn't get to the big leagues because he's a plus offensive player in terms of extra base hits and power and things like that."
Graham is optimistic of his return to Winnipeg and believes the team's winning ways are not far away.
"You've got to pitch well, you've got to play defense and you've got to hit. When all three of those things come together it creates winning baseball and that's what we're hoping to do sooner than later," Graham said. "I think we have the right personnel here, it's just a matter of all coming together and being consistent at the same time."