Dover grad Floyd happy to finally be healthy again

Dmitri Floyd wasn’t able to play his senior season at Dover High because of a chronic left wrist injury. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Dmitri Floyd’s body had already taken a beating.

In his last year at Dover High, the standout catcher broke the same bone in his left wrist three times.

Then, after his freshman season at UMBC, Floyd had to undergo surgery on his right shoulder.

Dmitri Floyd

But an off-the-field incident that happened to him that winter really seemed to break Floyd’s spirit for a while.

“Baseball wasn’t working out for me at the time,” Floyd explained. “The sport was supposed to be my escape — everything is good when I’m on the field, I don’t have to think about anything. It was the complete opposite.

“I told the Coach, ‘I’m not the player that you guys recruited right now. I’m not the person I want to be right now.’ I told him, ‘I love the team, but I’ve got to step away and take care of myself first so I can be the person and teammate that you guys recruited me to be.’”

Rather than being an ending, though, that moment was a turning point for Floyd.

He got some help and came back seemingly better than ever. A junior catcher, Floyd played some of the best baseball of his career this past spring.

After recovering from a shoulder injury, Floyd batted .341 in 13 games as a junior catcher at UMBC this past spring. (UMBC sports information)

Floyd was hitting a team-high .343 with 13 walks and nine runs scored in just 13 games before being stopped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week he was also named to the America Helping Hands Team for his work mentoring grade-school students in Baltimore.

Dover coach Dave Gordon said he’s proud of the way that Floyd has conquered the roadblocks in his life.

“As a coach, you’re like, ‘Man, I hope this kid stays with it,’” said Gordon. “Finds a way, battles through. Personally, I think he might have a shot at the next level, just being so good behind the plate. And he can swing it. This year, he was on fire with them.”

Gordon clearly remembers when Floyd rehabbed his wrist for eight weeks to get back on the field in his senior season at Dover. In his first — and last — at-bat of the spring, the youngster singled in a game at Sussex Tech.

Gordon was coaching third base when Senators’ assistant coach Stephen Wilson came over.

“He tells me, ‘Dmitri broke his wrist again,’” Gordon recalled. “When the inning is over and I get back in the dugout, he’s basically crying. He can’t even hold his wrist.’

“It was heartbreaking because I really felt he had a chance to be one of the best players in the state that year.”

Finally, Floyd had surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left wrist. It hasn’t given him any trouble since.

His right shoulder injury was another matter, though.

The injury was diagnosed as both a torn labrum and rotator cuff during Floyd’s freshman season at UMBC. He stuck out it out for the spring, playing some first base so he didn’t have to throw as much.

Despite the injury, Floyd still was named to the Atlantic East All-Rookie Team. He played in 40 games with 33 starts, batting .241 with 15 runs scored and 14 RBI.

But coming back from off-season shoulder surgery took a lot of work.

“I had to learn how to throw again,” said Floyd. “I spent my time working at the therapy place where I was going to therapy for. So I was doing therapy every day.”

It turned out, though, that what happened to Floyd that winter took him even longer to bounce back from. After the incident, which Floyd didn’t describe, baseball became a chore for him as he dealt with some other things going on in his life.

“Most of the time (before) I would just wake up and I’d be like, ‘I just want to hit a baseball,’” said Floyd, who played in the first two games of the season that year. “You can’t wait to get to the field. But for me, I was dreading going to the field.

“I told them, I’ve got to step away. They were very supportive and I really appreciate that. I stepped away and I got my help.”

Floyd did return to practice before the end of that season. He felt like he brought a much more positive outlook on life with him.

Now 20, he tried to spread some of that positive energy with the grade-school students he was mentoring around Baltimore. The youngsters were usually from tough living situations.

“It was just a way for these kids to build their self-esteem and have something to look forward to when they came to school,” Floyd said in an interview on America East’s Twitter feed. “A lot of these kids didn’t have someone that they could talk to. … If they felt comfortable enough, they would open up.”

When UMBC first signed Floyd, the Retrievers’ coaching staff was excited about his hitting talent and his skills behind the plate. But they also liked what pitching coach Liam Bowen called “the intangibles.”

“He is exactly the kind of intelligent and intense competitor we need at that position,” Bowen said at the time. “We are definitely excited about his future.”

Now that he’s finally healthy again, Floyd is looking forward to his future, too. He still has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Floyd said he feels as good as ever — both physically and mentally.

Baseball is fun again.

“I would wake up and just be ready to play,” said Floyd. “Sometimes I wouldn’t even sleep good – I’d just be ready to play, honestly. And I haven’t said that since I was a young kid.”