Recovering from an injury takes time. Justin Warrington just didn't know how much.

Recovering from an injury takes time. Justin Warrington just didn't know how much.

Warrington, a 2008 graduate of Watkins Memorial now pitching for Ball State University, had a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings as a freshman reliever before a shoulder injury ended his season.

Coming back from that injury was when Warrington found himself in an uncomfortable situation.

It was the first time Warrington had missed an extensive amount of time in his career, which also meant his first trip through the rehabilitation process.

By winter he was throwing the ball well by his own accounts but not in a pressure situation. So his first appearance in the 2010 season would be a true indication of his recovery, especially the mental part of it. It didn't help that the first batter he faced was Arkansas' Zach Cox, who would be a first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals later in the spring. Warrington walked him.

"I knew going into the season that my role was going to be in the back of the bullpen to face the big-time left handed hitters and get them out in big situations," Warrington said. "When I stepped on the mound against Cox, I knew I had to get him out, and it just didn't roll for me. I walked him in front of 8,000 people and let my head get the best of me, and from there on I struggled."

Warrington made only two more appearances for the Cardinals, unable to control the ball like he did at Watkins where he set school career records with 420 strikeouts and a 1.19 ERA.

"My arm started working a little differently, and I was struggling to find the strike zone," Warrington said. "The plate looked tiny. I'm working on getting that out of my head and moving on."

This summer, Warrington's rebuilding process is continuing with the Licking County Settlers, a member of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.

Settlers coach Brian Meyer decided to keep Warrington in the bullpen, hoping he can regain his confidence. If his first two outings are an indication, Warrington is making progress.

"We are really just working with him on his mental game and mechanics," Meyer said. "(Last Monday) he came out and did exactly what we asked him to do. He started guys fast, pitched to contact and didn't walk anybody. I thought it was a positive step."

Meyer has been in communication with the Ball State coaching staff and is cautious to let Warrington work at his own pace.

"We're not trying to rush him or anything," Meyer said. "We want to develop all these guys so they go back better to their spring teams than they came in. (Last Monday) was a step for him, but obviously not where Justin wants to be. We want to see him get better as the summer progresses."

Warrington said his main goal is to go back to Muncie, Ind., and be a working part of Ball State's success - something he couldn't do during his first two seasons there.

"The worse part is not being able to help out my team," Warrington said. "I just want to be able to stand on that mound with my teammates behind me and do something special with them."

Playing in the Great Lakes Summer League, a wood-bat league, gives Warrington a chance to work out in a comfortable environment. He gets to live with his parents and is surrounded by friends and former teammates, giving him a break from some of the pressures of playing at the Division I level. It also gives him the opportunity to face tough competition.

"Being able to be around my family after a rough year was very nice," Warrington said. "I get to stay home and eat my mom's home cooking, and I get to drive over to the same ballpark I played in every summer. It's a comfort level thing and I love it."

UPDATE: The Settlers were 7-4 after defeating the Southern Ohio Copperheads 8-7 last Wednesday. Licking County, which played Delaware last Friday and Celina last Saturday, will be host to Lexington today for a doubleheader. The team also will play at Lima on Tuesday before home games Wednesday against Lima and Thursday against Delaware. The week concludes on the road Saturday at Cincinnati for a doubleheader and Sunday at Xenia.