From the moment something went awry on a fateful hook slide in Arizona, Nick Madrigal has remained as upbeat and positive as ever.
The Oregon State junior didn’t sulk when it became apparent in the dugout at Surprise Stadium that his left wrist had been damaged. He was relentlessly optimistic when an X-ray revealed a small fracture in his radial bone, an injury that would require weeks to properly heal.
Sullenness just doesn’t compute with the star infielder.
“I mean once it happened, you can’t really change anything from there,” said Madrigal, the lone captain of OSU’s baseball team. “I’ve always tried to stay positive, especially around my teammates. This team is a lot bigger than I am.”
The second-ranked Beavers (12-0) are 6-0 without their captain entering Tuesday’s 5:05 p.m. nonconference game against Portland at Goss Stadium. Sophomore Andy Armstrong and freshman Kyler McMahan have filled in for Madrigal at second base while Cadyn Grenier has remained at shortstop.
Madrigal, the 2017 Pac-12 player and defensive player of the year, is expecting to miss about six weeks of action. Among the regulars, he owns a team-best .560 batting average and has two home runs and eight RBIs.
The freak injury occurred on Feb. 23 during the Beavers’ come-from-behind victory over Ohio State. While sprinting home on a Michael Gretler grounder, Madrigal went for a hook slide and had his wrist slam on the ground as he attempted to touch the plate.
“I’ve seen a video of it, and it looked like I just came straight down on my wrist,” said Madrigal, who was tagged out on the play. “It was kind of an awkward slide, a little bit of a tricky angle but I’ve done that slide a thousand times in my life. It just looked like my hand got caught on the ground.”
Madrigal said his arm immediately went numb after sliding at the plate. He tried to shake it off but quickly realized something was wrong when he sat down in the dugout.
The first set of X-rays were clean, Madrigal said, but another scan showed a small fracture in the wrist. Recovery time is typically around six weeks.
“I’m pretty thankful that it wasn’t something worse like my shoulder or elbow,” said Madrigal, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum following his freshman season at OSU. He also missed a few games late last spring after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch.
It’s the first time Madrigal has suffered any type of wrist injury.
“It could’ve been a lot worse, especially since we’ve got a little bit of time,” he added. “If this happened during the playoffs, it would be kind of hard to watch.”
To glean as much knowledge as possible, Madrigal has sought opinions from doctors in Arizona, Oregon and California. He missed the first three games of the Hartford series but made it back to Corvallis for Sunday’s finale.
“It’s just so I can get informed what this is about and know what to do with it going forward,” Madrigal said. “But all (the doctors) have said the same thing.”
For the next couple weeks, there isn’t much for Madrigal to do.
He hopes to begin some physical therapy in about three-to-four weeks and should be out of a cast and splint around the four-week mark. In the meantime, Madrigal will be the Beavers’ biggest cheerleader as the team heads into Pac-12 play without its leader.
“That’s our captain,” junior outfielder Trevor Larnach said. “Nick, he kind of sets the mood. He lets guys know what needs to happen and he’s a game-changer whether he’s on the field or in the dugout, so it’s awesome to have him back.”
Hawks impress Beavers
Hartford’s pitching staff held up surprisingly well against Oregon State’s vaunted offense.
The Beavers, who entered the four-game series with the nation’s third-highest team batting average at .365, hit just .205 (23 for 112) against the Hawks.
“I’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” sophomore Adley Rutschman said after Saturday’s doubleheader. “They are a good team and they are doing a great job of mixing pitches and knowing what each one of their individual strengths are.”
OSU scored 18 total runs in the series after averaging 9.4 runs per game during the Surprise trip.
“We need to do a better job with zone discipline,” coach Pat Casey said. “But give them credit. They pitched and they played good (defense).”
Starter not named
Following Sunday’s finale, Casey said the Beavers have not decided on a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game with Portland.
Sam Tweedt, a junior right-hander who started games the first two weekends, has struggled this year. The South Salem High graduate has a 6.48 ERA in 8⅓ innings with three strikeouts and five walks.
Casey said sophomore Brandon Eisert and freshmen Christian Chamberlain and Nathan Burns are also candidates to get the nod.
“We’ll probably use a lot of arms,” Casey said.
The Beavers remained at No. 2 in the latest D1Baseball.com top 25, which was released Monday morning.
Florida (12-1) maintained its stranglehold on the poll’s top spot while Texas Tech (13-0), Florida State (11-0) and Arkansas (9-3) rounded out the top five.
Two other Pac-12 teams are near the top of the rankings. Stanford (11-1), which suffered its first loss of the season last weekend, moved up to seventh and UCLA (9-2) is not far behind at 11th.