Wendle Returns to Lineup in Time For Playoff Push

With only a couple weeks left in the season, the Rubber Ducks are keeping their eyes fixed on post season baseball. In order to reach that, they’ll need to continue to play the best baseball they can, and with Joe Wendle back from the disabled list, their chances of reaching the post season seem to have increased.

After missing about seven weeks of Double-A baseball, Wendle has finally worked his way back into the RubberDucks lineup and will assuming everyday responsibilities at second base. He had been sidelined with a broken hamate bone in his right hand which occurred on June 26. He made his return to the lineup on August 19.

“It’s definitely coming along. Definitely feeling better,” Wendle said. “Rehab staff out in Arizona was great. They kept pushing me and were really encouraging and very knowledgeable about the injury. It’s fairly common and they were ready to get me back on the field.”

Before Wendle went down with his injury, he had really started to heat up at the plate. In June, he had batted .300/.337/.500 with 12 runs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs and 19 RBI. He was leading the team in RBI as well. It seemed like he finally found his niche on the team, and then had to be set back.

“That’s just part of the season, part of baseball unfortunately,” Wendle said. “Sometimes you get injured, and I try to do everything in my power to prevent those injuries. Sometimes things just happen, not much I can do to prevent a broken bone.”

Regardless of what he had done prior to the injury, Wendle is trying to focus on what he can do right here and now to help this team push to the post season. Manager Dave Wallace couldn’t be happier to have Wendle back in his lineup.

“I’m real happy, and excited for him,” Wallace said. “It’s never fun to go through an injury and the rehab process. He had to do it once last year when he took a ball to the face. Kind of Jake Loweryish. Glad he got through it. He said he’s feeling pretty good.”

In order for Wendle to have come back this season, he had to have surgery on his right hand to repair the area where the hamate bone had broken. Besides how crazy this injury sounds, it’s actually a fairly common injury.

“A lot of times batters will get a callus on the palm of their hand on the pinky side. That’s right on top of your hamate bone. So it was just from constantly swinging, constant impact on it,” Wendle said. “I had heard it four or five days before the actual injury. It was a little bit sore, and a little bit tight. Then that night I definitely felt something break or pop off.”

After having his surgery, Wendle’s main focus was just staying in shape as best he could before returning to baseball activities. That way when he did return to baseball activities, the only thing that would limit him would be his hand, which he was able to work with during his time in Arizona.

“I was able to get in five or six games there as they gradually progressed me through games. I felt pretty good at the plate, and started to get some timing back, and was able to play well,” Wendle said.

During his time in Arizona, Wendle posted a slash line of .455/.538/.591 and scored 8 runs and had 1 double, 1 triple, along with 4 RBI and 1 stolen base.  The big thing for Wendle, now that he’s back, is just being able to return to the way he was playing before he left. He’s the type of player who puts up battles when he’s at the plate. He doesn’t give in very easily, which is what makes Wendle such an asset to a lineup. That’s what Wallace is looking forward to seeing now that Wendle has returned.

“I just want him to have Joey Wendle at bats,” Wallace said. “The good quality every-pitch-grinding at bats. If he does that then he’ll get his RBI’s and his hits and all that. We’re not looking for him to all of a sudden, we need him to score ten runs a game. We just want him to be him.”

He seemed to show just that in his first game back from the disabled list. In his first game back, Wendle had three plate appearances, all of which there was a runner in scoring position at the time. He was able to hit a sac fly during one of the at bats to score a runner, but he was able to put up strong at bats and hit some balls hard.

“My favorite at bat was the left on left that he drove to left field, but the guy ran it down. That’s a great at bat as far as we’re concerned. Good signs, good day for him,” Wallace commented.

One of the concerns with his injury was that he may not be able to throw the ball as well as he could prior to the injury. So far, it seems that Wendle is playing with absolutely no limitations defensively. His defense is a strong point for Wendle. He’s very athletic and has a lot of range at second base, which will prove crucial for the Rubber Ducks these next few weeks.

Now that Wendle is back in the picture, he’ll slide right back into where he was before his injury. As the everyday number three hitter, he’ll get ample opportunities to drive in runs, and make up for lost time by helping the Ducks make it to the post season and hopefully bring home a championship.

“I’d like to help the team win a championship and win the Eastern League Title. That would be something really cool. That’s our goal at this point.”

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer

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