MOULTRIE -- This time six years ago, Hayden Gliemmo was preparing to lead the Colquitt County High baseball team to its first and only state championship.
Now 24 years old and 20 months removed from career-threatening elbow surgery, the left-hander hopes he can find that magic again.
Gliemmo has been working out with the Colquitt County baseball team as he prepares for his first professional spring training.
He will leave March 1 for Mesa, Ariz., where he will join other recent Anaheim Angels signees.
After a successful career with the Packers and at Auburn University, Gliemmo underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery in June 2001 and has been rehabilitating his talented left arm since.
He said he has no idea what to expect when he reaches Arizona.
"I'm new at this," he said Wednesday at Ike Aultman Field, scene of some memorable Gliemmo pitching performances. "I'm just going to try my best to win a spot.
"My goal is just to make a team after spring training. Then I'll be happy and I'll go from there."
Gliemmo said most players start in a rookie league, but because of his college experience and age, he may begin his career in Class A if he has a strong spring training.
Angels scout Jeff Crane followed Gliemmo during the former Packer's career at Auburn and after the surgery told Gliemmo to get back in touch following his rehab.
After an impressive December workout for Angels scout Chris McAlpin, also a former Packer, Gliemmo was offered a contract.
"My arm strength and velocity are still not 100 percent," he said. "But it feels good."
Gliemmo was 24-3 during his career with the Packers and finished his four years at Auburn among its winningest pitchers ever, despite missing much of his last two seasons with elbow problems.
He was 7-1 with a 2.77 ERA when he was finally shut down as a senior.
MRI's never revealed the full extent of his elbow problem, but when the noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews went in, he found the ligament was almost completely torn.
A ligament was taken from his forearm and used to replace the torn one in the elbow.
Since then, Gliemmo has been taking classes at Auburn and working to get his arm back in shape.
"It's been a long process," he said. "The pain I had is not there anymore, but a lot of people say it takes two years to fully heal. But I'm excited. I'm ready to get at it. All I want is a chance."
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