As they say, staying in the Major Leagues is more difficult than getting here. Fortunately, after a good spring in Triple-A, I was called up by the Cardinals this season and everything has worked out pretty well. It's been a tremendous opportunity for me.

But it wasn't my first opportunity in the big leagues. When the Indians acquired me in 2003, they gave me a chance. I was one of their guys. But then I kept getting hurt, and in the next few couple years, they brought in a couple guys named Coco Crisp and Grady Sizemore. Those are two good players and there was nothing I could do in that situation. In 2005, after I made the Indians' Opening Day roster, I broke my wrist.

Last year, I was a Triple-A All-Star with Toledo in the Tigers' organization. I stayed healthy and had a good season there, which provided some options for me in the offseason. After considering a couple teams, I decided to sign with St. Louis, and things have worked out well here. I had a good spring then I got hot in Triple-A and now I'm back in the big leagues. It all happened pretty quickly. I kept battling and found my way back.

It's all about being productive at the right time and taking advantage of the opportunity when you get it. For a lot of guys, sticking in the Majors is a timing deal. I've had a lot of opportunities, but the timing hasn't been right, mostly because of injuries.

I've had a broken wrist, two knee surgeries and hip surgery. That's stuff you can't control. Unfortunately for me, the timing was bad each time. But ultimately my goal has been to stay in the big leagues.

My first opportunity came when I was 23. Now, here I am with the best opportunity of my life and I'm 29. It's been a long road.

I don't know if I've improved on anything this season. But I think fighting through the injuries has made me mentally stronger. Each injury brings you down so much, you have to battle back. I've battled through so many things, the game seems easier now.

I have a better perspective now because the game's been taken away so many times. After a while, you realize it's just a game, it's fun. I used to make it life and death when I was young. I felt like if I wasn't a big-league ballplayer, the world would end.

Now I know not to take anything for granted and I'm having fun again. It feels great to be back in the Majors.

Ryan Ludwick, a Triple-A All-Star last season with the Toledo Mud Hens, is hitting .267 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs through 281 at-bats with St. Louis this season.