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County leader Bliss could be better now that he’s healed

[02/27/01] By any standard, Walter Bliss had a great season in 2000. The Porters Chapel Academy catcher was third in Warren County with a .482 average and had a county-best 11 home runs and 48 RBIs.

The numbers are even more impressive considering that he did it with one arm.

Bliss, now a senior, played all of last season with two torn ligaments in his right elbow and had reconstructive surgery in June. Now, with two healthy arms, he’s ready to do even more damage to the Eagles’ opponents.

“That was all when he was hurt, so I’m real excited to see what he can do after his elbow has been fixed,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “He’s hitting balls out of the park, and if he doesn’t hit them out of the park, he’s hitting them hard somewhere.”

Bliss still isn’t as healthy as he could be he said he’s “about 85 percent” but it’s a lot better than last season, when he often took Advil before a game to help with the pain, then iced his arm down afterward.

“It hurt. It hurt bad,” Bliss said. “Every time we stepped on the field it got worse.”

He played through the pain and had a breakout year at the plate but sometimes struggled to throw runners out when he was behind it.

“It doesn’t put on my mind as much about the runner,” when Bliss is healthy, pitcher Trey White said. “Last year, we had to concentrate a lot on the runner instead of the hitter.”

By the end of the season, Bliss couldn’t throw at all. He had surgery on June 30 and rehabbed for less than two months before playing for PCA’s football team as a linebacker.

“It was my senior year, and I really wanted to play, so I figured I’d play. But there were a couple of times during football season when I wondered, What am I doing out here? I’m going to hurt my arm,’ ” Bliss said.

He has worked the arm since the end of football season and is showing improvement, although there is still some pain.

“It gets better and better. I have my days. Some days it feels real good … ” Bliss said.

Still, Wright expressed some concerns about Bliss’ arm strength on throws to second base and has a backup plan ready. Wright has freshman catcher Ryan Hoben ready to go, and would use Bliss as a designated hitter.

When told about the plan, Bliss was surprised but said he would do everything he could to make sure the backup plan doesn’t become the steady routine.

“If that’s what he feels like he’s got to do, but I’m going to tell him that I want to play, and I’m going to get out there and I’m going to play with pain if I have to,” Bliss said. “I’m going to throw as hard as I can and I’m going to play with pain, because I want to play and I want to be on that field when we play the state championship game.”