When a major league baseball player gets hurt and can't take to the field, they typically get put on the disabled list followed by a rehab assignment in the minors.
For Lakeview Academy grad Ralston Cash, a season-ending hip injury this spring meant a trip home from his minor league assignment for the entire summer.
"I feel like I'm a ghost at home and not supposed to be here," said Cash, who is back living at home with his family in Habersham County. "I was gearing up for a summer of 80 games, and to start 10 or 20 times on the mound, but then I got hurt.
"This is my first injury in my career and hopefully my last."
Cash, a second-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, was gearing up for a possible assignment to the Single-A Great Lakes Loons when his hips locked up during his final bullpen session of spring training, resulting in a stress fracture.
It was similar to an incident that happened last season when he was pitching with the Rookie League Ogden Raptors.
The writing was on the wall that Cash wasn't healthy in spring training. Every pitch the right-hander delivered came out as a slider and he'd also lost velocity on his pitches.
Again recently, he felt a pop again in his hips. His first instinct was to call his girlfriend, Emily, who he says has been one of his biggest supporters during this unexpected bump in the road.
"Finding out I couldn't pitch this summer kind of sat me on my butt, but I knew I couldn't pout about it," Cash said. "I just have to get mentally prepared for when I can come back."
He says the upside of not pitching through the injury is that he's not breaking from his muscle memory that he learned to pitch with growing up. Cash concedes if he'd still been throwing strikes, he would have tried to power through it and not show any pain.
However, when he was consistently well outside of the strike zone, he couldn't hide his discomfort from pitching coach and former big-league pitcher Charlie Hough.
Now, he feels his trip back to Georgia for the summer is for a purpose.
At home, Cash has tried to help his father, Ralph, mend from bladder cancer that had already spread through his body by the time it was diagnosed earlier this year.
Despite the long odds of recovery, Cash says his father is showing positive signs of beating the cancer and has another bone scan to check his progress on July 11.
"My dad is doing great," Cash said. "After his last round of chemotherapy, he played a round of golf each of the next two days.
"He's a real inspiration to others."
Cash, The Times 2009 Baseball Player of the Year, has made it a priority during his rest to perfect his mental focus.
He's taken the advice he learned from books such as ‘Unstoppable Confidence' and ‘Mind Gem' and meshed that with his faith in God to reinforce his belief that there is a plan for everything that happens.
Along with the mental side of things, Cash has also gotten into studying organic foods and which vitamins help to keep the body strong. He says the days of splurging on fast food are long gone.
Also, he's turned his body into a tablet to honor those that mean the most to him, getting eight current tattoos - one making up an entire sleeve on his left arm - with plans for more on his right arm and his back.
The focal points of the body art is a skull honoring his deceased mother on his left forearm with clouds above it and her name, Angela, inked on the same biceps.
From a playing standpoint, Cash doesn't feel like he's been left behind by his teammates by missing out on an entire season.
He's not going to fret over other pitchers getting the chance at promotion while he's unable to play. He's following his teammates on the Ogden Raptors via the internet and is excited for those who are doing well.
He likens it to trying to catch up with being in a road race.
"The first one to cross the starting line usually gets passed in the race," Cash said.