Erick Fedde heads to Viera, Fla., Wednesday to begin the long, slow rehab from Tommy John surgery, but before embarking on that monotonous journey, the Nationals' top draft pick got to enjoy a whirlwind day in the District.
Fedde, the 16th overall pick in the June draft out of UNLV, toured Washington and then spent the afternoon and evening at Nationals Park, where Bryce Harper (his former high school teammate from Las Vegas) presented him a No. 14 jersey.
"It was a wonderful experience," Fedde said. "They have treated me so well. They have shown me around. I had to do a little photo shoot, the jersey. It's every kid's dream. It's just awesome that it's coming true."
Drafted only two days after he underwent ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, Fedde has done very little physical activity the last two months. But his elbow now out of a brace, he's ready to begin the rehab process, which will start in earnest Wednesday at the Nationals' spring training complex in Viera.
It's a long, lonely road to recovery, as anyone who has previously experienced it will attest. Fedde, though, is eager to get started.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I've been sitting around too long, ready to get going, back to baseball."
Fedde has spent little time on the East Coast before, aside from a summer in the Cape Cod League, but he's been warned what awaits him in Viera.
"I've heard there's not a lot to do, but that's perfect for me," he said. "I'm there for one reason: To get better."
Fedde knows the Nationals' track record for developing young pitchers, including a slew who have come back from Tommy John surgery, which brings him peace of mind as he begins his rehab. He had a chance to meet one of them, Stephen Strasburg, on Tuesday and got some advice from the right-hander.
"He just said: 'Trust the system and let it work itself out,'" Fedde said.
Inked to a signing bonus just over $2.5 million minutes before the July 18 deadline, Fedde got a chance to reunite Tuesday with Harper. The two grew up in the same Las Vegas neighborhood and played baseball, basketball and football together starting at age 7.
"He was always a monster, I guess you could say, when we were little," Fedde said. "He didn't look a freshman. He deserves everything he's got and works really hard. I'm just glad things are working out for him."