I think the term "late bloomer" is a fair characterization of my career. It's an accurate description since I am 31 years old.

The last eight or nine years of my career have definitely been a bumpy ride. My path has featured injuries, including one to my arm that cost me at least a year and a half of my career. It was tough to come back from that both mentally and physically. Looking back on that time, it was a turning point for me. I could have gone either way. It took me longer than I thought to come back from the injury, but here I am.

I considered 2010 my make-or-break year, so that time spent here meant a lot to me. At one point, I was off the 40-man roster, so I figured that it could either be the end for me or I could pick myself up and come back. It was really important for me to have a good year and make a good impression on the team.

Throughout this entire journey my family, especially my wife, has been supportive of me. My agent has been a large part of my support team, too. The Padres took a chance on me and judged me on the merit of 2010 rather than basing their decision on what happened in the past. I have to be very thankful for them giving me the chance.

The older I got the more the idea of life without baseball crept into my mind. You try to shut it out as you're working hard, but it was there. Once I got hurt, it became a more prominent thought. Your body can only take so much before it starts to break down. On the flip side, having that thought bounce around my head only made me want to work harder and become stronger mentally and physically.

At one point, I overheard Adrian Gonzalez giving another player some hitting advice. I used the advice myself, and I give him a lot of credit for helping me. It changed me as a hitter. It put me back in the mindset I was in before I got injured.

I started seeing myself as the type of hitter I thought I was back in the day. After the injury I had to rebuild my body and swing from scratch. It was never the same. As soon as I heard that, everything just started to click. It was as if a light went on inside my head. It was one of those moments I will never forget as a hitter.

Reserve outfielder Chris Denorfia has been a steady contributor to the Padres the last two seasons. After seeing limited duty with Oakland (2008-09) and Cincinnati (2005-06), Denorfia has played in 210 total games in 2010 and 2011.