COMSTOCK PARK – West Michigan Whitecaps reliever Clate Schmidt had just finished an awful outing, yet pitching coach Jorge Cordova saw something he really liked.
How Schmidt handled himself said a lot about what he’s been through.
“I didn’t see him upset,” Cordova said. “I saw him grateful to be a part of it. And that’s a big deal because so many players around this age almost cry or walk around like someone killed their dog if something doesn’t go right out there.”
Don’t get it wrong. Schmidt wasn’t pleased. But he has also beaten cancer, so there is a bigger picture going on here.
A bad outing? Not so hard to accept after you’ve suffered through chemotherapy and radiation.
“Going through with what I went through with where I am now, I would have been a lot more panicky over things,” Schmidt said. “I’ve learned how to bounce back and handle adversity. I’m in a great place mentally.”
The 23-year-old from Beaufort, South Carolina is a month shy of two years since his last radiation. The former University of Clemson starter first discovered a lump in his neck in February 2015, and a few months later was diagnosed with nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
With that, he embarked on a new battle.
“Obviously, it was awful and I don’t wish it on anyone,” Schmidt said. “But I was like, ‘Alright, what do we have to do? Let’s take this thing head on and get it over and done with.'”
His efforts were rewarded. Schmidt returned to Clemson and started the second game of the 2016 season – and got the win. Overall, he appeared in 18 games (15 as a starter) and went 8-5 with a 4.83 ERA.
Now, after the Tigers selected him in the 20th round in 2016, Schmidt’s career – and life – are forever connected to his cancer battle. His choice? Schmidt has embraced a role as a survivor, willing to tell his story as he navigates his way through the minor leagues.
“How I look at it, I wouldn’t be here without the motivation it (cancer) gave me,” he said. “It refueled my love for the…