A freak accident kept junior Jake Mahon out of UE’s lineup earlier this season, but a much more common baseball injury will sideline one of the Aces’ top baseball threats the rest of this season.
Mahon broke the hamate bone in his left wrist early in last Friday’s win over Southern Illinois, the same injury previously suffered by major leaguers such as Pablo Sandoval, Troy Tulowitzki and Dustin Pedroia.
“He did it in a swing Friday night in his first at bat,” said UE coach Wes Carroll.
As Mahon felt out the break, seeing at first if it was simply a sprain, he later pushed a bunt single right of the mound. Carroll then pinch hit for the Plain City, Ohio, native in the 10th inning with the game on the line.
“It got to a point where it swelled so much that he couldn’t swing,” Carroll added.
Mahon had surgery on Monday and showed up to the Aces’ 10-8 loss Tuesday to Indiana in a sling and out of uniform.
It wasn’t the first time Mahon missed time this season. A ball caught him in the face during batting practice before the Aces’ March 22 game against Creighton, and he missed a week due to concussion.
Mahon, a former two- and three-hole hitter, currently has the Aces’ second best batting average (.330) and on base percentage (.425).
“He’s a solid player offensively and defensively, and it’s going to be a big loss for us,” said senior catcher Chris Pearson. “But it’s like I’ve said before, it’s a next-man-up kind of thing. Jake’s a big guy in our offense, but we can still put up runs and get the job done.
Recovery time for the broken hamate bone is six weeks. Professionals who break it typically come back just as strong.
“The good news about the hamate bone fracture is that the impact on a baseball player is minimal, meaning it is not likely to impact the player on a long-term level,” wrote Yahoo! Sports contributor Jeanne Rose.
Rose added: “Although recovery time is short, a baseball player might feel less power hitting or pitching, and the loss of power or speed might continue up to a year after the surgery. Usually, however, within six weeks a baseball player can return to normal activities and not see a significant drop in speed, strength or power.”
Against Indiana, junior David Patton filled in at Mahon’s usual third base spot. The Aces also have freshman Jonathan Ramon available for the infield.
Both are sub-.250 hitters.
“I think with Jake, it’s going to be about filling his role as a team — with the aggregate,” said junior Johnny Day, who also plays infield. “With Jake being hurt, we can have different guys step up every day.”