Returning from injuries, Slobodian looks to collegiate year ahead

PORCUPINE PLAIN — Porcupine Plain’s Nathan Slobodian is thrilled to be back on the mound.

The baseball pitcher had Tommy John surgery in April of 2018. The operation on his elbow kept him from throwing for his Minot (ND) State University (MSU) baseball team in both 2018 and 2019. 

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This summer Slobodian is pitching for the Moose Jaw Miller Express of the Western Canadian Baseball League, a collegiate summer league.

“Right now, I’ve only had a handful of appearances since surgery, so I’m just trying to feel out what works and what doesn’t and learn anything I can to become a better pitcher from the guys we have here,” said Slobodian, who will be entering his third year at MSU in the fall. “There’s so many guys that do things well, so I’m trying to pick every guy’s brain about what they do effectively and somehow try to incorporate it into my own game.”

As of July 20, the right-hander has played in 12 games. He has been deployed mostly as a middle- to late-inning reliever. He has a win, a save and two losses with 10 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. 

When it comes to pitching, Slobodian said what he enjoys most is “just straight up competing.”

“When I’m on the mound I do everything in my power to make sure that the player standing in the batter’s box is going to be walking back to the dugout,” he said. “Right now, my results so far this summer aren’t where I wanted them to be, but I feel better every time I go out, and most importantly I feel healthy.” 

Slobodian has enjoyed his time in Moose Jaw.

“The thing that I have enjoyed the most playing for the Miller Express would hands down have to be the group of guys that we have on this team,” he said. “We have a great group of guys that want to win and come to play hard every day. I’ve learned a lot from all the guys, and it’s been a great atmosphere throughout the summer.”

The Minot State Beavers are looking forward to having Slobodian compete for them. Even though he has yet to pitch in a competitive game for them, MSU head coach Scott Eul has certainly been impressed.

“Nate has been phenomenal since he got to Minot State two years ago,” he said. “He has had some really unfortunate situations arise with injuries and such, but that has never broken Nate’s confidence and overall happy persona.”

Eul said the hurler, who has a good breaking ball, “has the chance to special.”

“I can’t wait to see all the hard work Slobo has put in come to fruition,” the coach said. “He deserves every bit of success that comes his way.”

Throughout his life, Slobodian has been strongly supported by his parents – John and Tracy.

“They have honestly been the most important people so far in my baseball career,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of very knowledgeable coaches and teammates that have helped me along the way, but my parents have supported every decision I have made along the way. They helped in every way they could after surgery and in my return to pitching. It’s cliché to say, but without them I’m not sure if I would be playing baseball at the collegiate level.”

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