STANFORD -- Cal Quantrill took his moment to be downright mad. Sad and emotional, too. He called home to tell his parents his elbow was seriously hurt and he needed surgery, then he broke down in the car while parked outside Stanford's Sunken Diamond.
"It was devastating. It was hours and hours of work and things I had changed to put myself in a position that I could make a difference last year and it was all taken away," Quantrill recalled, sitting in the stands of the campus ballpark after a recent throwing session. "I sat there for about 15 minutes - sad, angry, it's not fair, this or that. And what I realized, literally 20 minutes later, it doesn't help anything. Wallowing away, being sad, sorry for myself, wasn't going to fix anything. I needed the 15 minutes to recoup and just get that emotion out."
That is when the son of former big leaguer Paul Quantrill began his comeback quest in earnest. He would undergo Tommy John surgery and celebrate each step - however small it might seem - in his recovery. He rededicated himself to school, baseball and other important parts of his life.
"I wasn't going to just take a break," he said. "It wasn't going to be eight months or 10 months of me doing nothing, kind of just sitting around."
His plan hasn't changed one bit: Quantrill intends to pitch again for Stanford later this season and be drafted in June. He believes his velocity might even be higher once he returns. Scouts are still projecting the junior to be a first-rounder, even if they won't be able to fully evaluate Quantrill until he's back pitching games in April or May. His positive personality is a major plus.
Not that Quantrill's future professional career is all that's fueling him at this stage. He can't wait to help Stanford again, especially in Mark Marquess' 40th season coaching at his alma mater. Quantrill's father has helped him realize the importance of taking each step and keeping everything in perspective.
"My goal is to be a No. 1 pitcher in the big leagues," Quantrill said. "The draft is a part of the process. To deny that it's a big day in your life I think is silly.
"But my dad and I have talked about this a lot of times, and I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly with what he says, it's a split second. It's one day. Yes, I want to go as high as I can possibly go; yes, I would love to make as much money as I could possibly make, but that isn't what this game is to me. It's not about one day in the middle of June, it's about one day in the middle of June in six years when I'm on a big league field. That's what I'm looking at."
Now, Quantrill blows into his right hand on a breezy winter day at Sunken Diamond, then starts unleashing throws from about 80 feet - not as hard as he can yet, but that's OK, that day will come soon enough.
He sits in the dugout surrounded by teammates, hands folded and resting on his knees as he listens to Marquess. Quantrill comes straight to the practice field from an afternoon class and jumps into tarp duty with gusto along with any other jobs needed to prepare the diamond.
Everybody is optimistic he will be ready to pitch before season's end.
"It's a year," Marquess said. "They come back stronger than ever."
His dad agrees.
"Cal's doing great. Right on schedule, but too slow for his liking," said Paul Quantrill, who finished his big league pitching career in 2005 after 14 seasons. "He'll follow doctor's orders and be good as new."
When Cal Quantrill walks to the mound again in a Stanford uniform, he has a swagger his teammates count on to get them all going.
"He brings another energy," said Daniel Starwalt, a right-hander recovering from shoulder surgery. "You're not worried when Cal's pitching. He's got this aura or sense about him that he's going to take care of everything. That's mostly what makes him. He's obviously got a great arm, but I think it's that confidence that really makes him stand out from everybody else."
Quantrill will aim to be patient until that day arrives. He can't wait to throw off a mound, perhaps late next month, or shortly after the anniversary of his surgery. He hopes this injury is a mere hiccup in a long and successful professional career.
"In the grand scheme of things, it was a very small moment for me," he said. "This isn't going to stop me, it's so irrelevant in the big picture, and that's what's made me feel so good now about how it's gone. ... I'm in a great place now. I love throwing. I don't play baseball to run laps and work out. I play baseball for getting on the mound, throwing the ball and hanging out with my buddies playing catch. That's always been what's fun for me. Now I have that back, so it feels like we're making strides."