When Karson Simas, former Clovis West baseball player was facing six months out due to injury, he was left with a choice.
Miss most of, if not all of his senior season, or put the pain aside and get out on the diamond months earlier with his Golden Eagles.
Karson chose the latter.
The shortstop wasn’t his normal self all season, but he gave what he had and showed his character as a player. Karson’s decision paid off after he was drafted in the 25th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox.
“It was crazy, I didn’t think it would happen in high school after my surgery,” Karson said. “I had to face something that wasn’t too easy to come back from. They told me I wouldn’t be able to play my senior year, but I was like no, I’m going to do my best to get back out there and help my team win.”
At the beginning of his sophomore year at Clovis West Karson developed some elbow pain but didn’t think much of it and continued to play baseball.
“After I would throw the ball, I would feel a sharp pain,” Karson said. “It would go away then happen again.”
It wasn’t until his junior year, approximately a year later when he knew something was different. Karson went to his father, Bill Simas, former professional baseball player and now pitching coach for the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and together they got Karson’s elbow checked out.
Karson found out there was a gap in his elbow, causing him pain.
“My growth plate wasn’t fused to my elbow and that’s what it was,” Karson said. “There was a gap in my elbow where the plate was supposed to be. It was growing normally; it just wasn’t fused together, and it just couldn’t because all the stress from throwing a baseball.”
Doctors closed the gap with a clamp and they put a plate with 11 screws into his elbow. Doctors said it was going to be a six-month recovery.
Karson had the surgery after his junior season and just before his senior season in November of last year. On a six-month timeline, Karson would miss all if not a large chunk of his season. Despite the odds and the road ahead of him, Karson put it all out there for his team.
He talked with his parents and felt his injury couldn’t get worse, eventually making his way back to his team months before he was scheduled. Karson’s parents relied on expert advice before letting him test it. However, there was some worry on his parents’ part.
“As a mom, you want what’s best for your kids and you don’t want them to get injured,” Kim Simas said on her son’s elbow injury. “This is something that has been his lifelong dream and for him to come back and the possibility of something going wrong and maybe ending his dreams of playing professionally was worrying.”
Thankfully for Karson and his family, he responded well to his first action with the team, albeit light hitting to start.
“I can’t remember when, but we played Clovis North and they were No. 1 at the time and I was on the way to the game and I was telling my dad – I was only hitting that game – but I told my dad I had been swinging for a few weeks and I had felt good, but he wanted to talk to a doctor if I was clear and the doctor said I could do light swings,” he said.
His parents let him play and Karson had a few hits, including a double, but he was still cautious not to over do it. He tried to let go of the bat sooner, rather than hold on and extend his elbow too much. His careful approach worked as he was able to stay on the field healthy.
Karson could play, but he wasn’t himself.
“It just wasn’t strengthened. When they cut through my arm for the surgery, they cut through the triceps muscle, so I had to rebuild my triceps. It’s still not 100%, I’d say around 85% to 90%, so I was still trying to get back to myself,” he said.
Karson worked his way back somewhat and still had a good season. He played well for his team despite the injury, he was able to stay healthy and he added some accolades including a spot in the City versus County All-Star game and being awarded an MVP for the 50th Easter Classic.
He went 7-12, including a double, two home runs and six RBIs from the leadoff spot. Clovis West went undefeated in the tournament.
“After all he has battled through, to make it back to help his team just shows what kind of player he is,” Kim said.
Karson was always the smaller kid his mother said. His brother Kohl Simas, former Golden Eagle and now Fresno City Ram was always bigger and that forced Karson to fight through the “little brother label” and it helped shape him throughout his life.
“He just fights hard and he’s a grinder and he leaves it all out on the field no matter what,” Kim said.
Karson played with Kohl for three years at Clovis West and outside the normal roughhousing between brothers, on the field, when the game was on the line both brothers were always locked in and ready to make a play.
“Playing with my brother was a lot fun and it was great to be able to play with him. He pitched really well and when he played first base, he was always diving, picking balls for me and stretching along, almost doing the splits. From Simas to Simas was all I could remember,” Karson said.
Since Karson was boy, the idea of becoming a professional player like his father was on his mind. Karson recalls going with his father to games and practices and just being around that atmosphere.
Karson’s bond with his father growing up shaped him on the diamond and his ambitions for his future.
“They had baseball in common and that really helps a father and son bond a little bit more,” Kim said. “They spent a lot of time together on the field and that has always been something Karson wanted to do and has worked very hard in trying to get to. He’s always wanted to be in the clubhouse, on the field and just being where his dad is.”
Karson spent an entire summer with his father’s team in Rancho Cucamonga in the past and “that was probably his favorite summer” his mother said.
He even met the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger during his time with his father early on.
“I used to be around my dad and the team, and I would mess around, “Karson said. “My dad chose the baseball path and I thought I could try to do my best to do the same thing he did.”
Karson has that chance after being drafted by the Boston Red Sox, last years World Series champions.
“I was just sitting on the couch with my friends and my sister and once I heard it, I was like finally my dream has come true,” he said.
Although Karson hasn’t decided whether to take the offer and head to his professional minor league team or continue his collegiate career at Fresno City or elsewhere, Karson has strong backing from his former Clovis West head coach Kevin Patrick.
“Karson is a very talented baseball player who can play this game for a long time. He’s one of the most talented players to come through our program over the years,” Patrick said. “It’s unfortunate he didn’t have an opportunity to play shortstop all season for us due to injury because he’s a special defender, a game changer.