Four weeks after open-heart surgery, Houston infielder Aaron Boone is thrilled with his progress.
Why, on Wednesday afternoon, he even drove himself to a haircut appointment, the grocery store and to "a very light workout" near his home in the Phoenix area.
"The big thing is fighting fatigue," Boone said during a telephone conversation Wednesday afternoon. "The first two weeks, the littlest things would make you tired."
The guy isn't quite ready to play nine innings yet, but he's making very steady progress.
And he hopes to play nine -- or, at least, a few innings -- before this season ends.
Boone, 36, was diagnosed in college with a congenital defect in his heart where the valve had two -- not the normal three -- cusps to manage blood flow. He had it checked every year, but it wasn't until this spring that his cardiologist determined that it had reached the point where he needed to have it repaired.
So he left Houston's camp in March, and surgeons replaced his bicuspid aortic valve at Stanford University.
He's not supposed to lift anything heavier than five pounds during the first six weeks, and he can gradually increase that between the sixth and the 12th weeks following surgery. He's on blood thinners now for a little while longer, and he's looking forward to getting through these first 12 weeks following surgery.
"By 12 weeks, you can do whatever you want," he says. "I'm even thinking about trying to play later this year. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. But it would be cool to show myself I can do it."
The Astros, he says, have been in very close contact.
"Houston has been awesome," Boone says. "They've treated me like I've been there for 12 years. I'm really appreciative."
He's also been inundated with well wishes from throughout baseball.
"It's been overwhelming," Boone says. "I'm so appreciative of the number of messages from very close friends and family, and the random people who have called. It's been very touching."
He was hoping to travel to Houston for the Astros' next homestand -- May 6-10 against the Cubs and San Diego -- but he probably will have to wait for the following homestand (May 19-24) unless he acquires an assistant in the next several days.
See, it's difficult to travel when you're still under doctors' orders not to lift more than five pounds.
Here's wishing Boone the very best, a complete recovery and a return to the field this season, if that's what he wants.
And in the meantime, whenever his playing days are finished, I know of one talent he's got that definitely should keep him involved in the game. Check it out here.
Likes: Aaron Boone making a strong recovery. Best news of the day. ... The Detroit News' Tom Gage and his excellent piece on the late Mark Fidrych. ... The Pirates, winning? Really? You go, Buccos. Look forward to seeing them soon. ... David Newhan signing with the Phillies as a player-coach at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... You can never go wrong with Rubio's Fish Tacos.
Dislikes: Brutal scoring decision in the first inning in Anaheim on Wednesday night when Tigers right fielder Ryan Raburn butchered a Maicer Izturis fly ball. Inexplicably, it went as a double instead of a two-base error. Worst scoring decision I've seen in a long, long time. And making it worse, three batters later, Kendry Morales blasted a three-run homer when Justin Verlander should have been out of the inning. Ugh. ... I really like Amy Poehler, but from what I saw of her new show the other night, Parks and Recreation, she's finally met something that can make her not funny. And that's really hard to do.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"So buy this fool some spirits and libations
"It's these railroad station bars
"With all these conductors and the porters
"And I'm all out of quarters
"And this epitaph is the aftermath
"Yeah I choose my path"
-- Tom Waits, Bad Liver and a Broken Heart