After all the bouncing around in the minor leagues, the ping-ponging between infield positions, and the ups and down of just trying to compete in baseball, Ryan McMahon finally seemed on solid ground heading into the 2019 MLB season.
Then he had to start all over again.
McMahon, who played football and baseball at Mater Dei before graduating in 2013, quickly rebounded from an elbow injury eight games into his first season as a full-time starter for the Colorado Rockies and blasted two home runs in his first game back on April 18, lifting the Rockies to their first home win.
Heading into spring training, McMahon appeared in great shape to be an Opening-Day starter for the Rockies, then left no doubt by hitting .434 in 22 games. He won the Rockies’ annual Abby Greer Award, which goes to the most valuable player during spring training.
He started at second base in the season-opener March 28 against the Miami Marlins and delivered a double and RBI in the 6-3 win. McMahon finished the four-game series 5-for-14 and seemed headed for a breakout year.
McMahon’s versatility allows him to play different infield positions, and on April 6 he was at first base when a bad throw caused him to collide with A.J. Pollock of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he crossed the bag.
McMahon sustained a hyper-extended left elbow, forcing him to miss 10 games.
“I felt like I was just about to hit my stride,” he told reporters.
McMahon was able to swing a bat one-handed, which kept him busy as his elbow recovered
“I had a lot of time on my hands,” McMahon said. “I took a lot of one-handed swings and really tried to slow everything down.”
McMahon’s importance to Colorado has been evident in its record when he’s in the lineup. The Rockies were 6-5 when he was in the starting lineup through April 21, and 3-8 when he wasn’t.
McMahon initially made his major-league debut in the summer of 2017.
He mostly watched from the bench, accumulating 19 at-bats over the final 17 games. He received his biggest taste of the majors last season, playing in 91 games and getting 181 at-bats.
Still, there were no openings on the infield and McMahon was relegated to mostly pinch-hit duties, making it difficult to get in rhythm.
A starting opportunity finally opened up in the offseason when second baseman D.J. LeMahieu was lured to the New York Yankees.
McMahon has experienced the ups and down of an athlete ever since he took over as the Mater Dei’s starting quarterback as a junior in 2011. The Monarchs lost the first three games that season and missed the playoffs for the only time since 1986.
McMahon returned as the starting quarterback the following season, but eventually lost his job to junior Chase Forrest, who led Mater Dei to the CIF-SS Pac-5 championship game.
Baseball was McMahon’s sport anyway, and he hit .405 as a senior with the Monarchs, belting four home runs with 32 RBIs.
The Rockies liked what they saw and selected him in the second round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, two spots after the Houston Astros selected former Orange Lutheran pitcher Andrew Thurman out of UC Irvine.
Thurman last pitched in the minor leagues in 2017. McMahon hopes he’s played his last minor-league game as well.