Baseball’s Fages close to returning to everyday action

After time off from baseball to heal from a wrist injury, Drake Fages is returning to the team.

Third+baseman+Drake+Fages+flips+the+bat+after+drawing+a+walk+in+his+first+at-bat+since+injuring+his+wrist.+The+NAIA+All-American+is+close+to+returning+to+the+Eagles+lineup.+%7C+Job+Ang%2FTHE+CHIMES

Mike Villa

Third baseman Drake Fages flips the bat after drawing a walk in his first at-bat since injuring his wrist. The NAIA All-American is close to returning to the Eagles’ lineup. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

Conner Penfold, Writer

Third baseman Drake Fages flips the bat after drawing a walk in his first at-bat since injuring his wrist. The NAIA All-American is close to returning to the Eagles’ lineup. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

Correction: Drake Fages missed the first 25 games of the season instead of 12. The Chimes regrets this error.

When Drake Fages grabbed his bat, walked toward home plate and heard his name announced for the first time in 2012, a celebratory roar erupted from the Biola faithful at Friday’s ballgame against Vanguard University.

The senior third baseman had long awaited that moment.

“You get used to something and then it gets taken away,” Fages said, who has missed the first 25 games of the season because of a wrist injury. “Just being back at Biola and seeing the background behind the pitcher, I hadn’t seen that in a long time. It was cool to know everybody in the stands was excited to see me play again.”

Both fans and teammates are anticipating his return. Following a 2011 season full of record-breaking performances and nationally recognized awards, Fages’ presence in the lineup will surely be noticed. His 18 home runs and 77 RBIs earned him the honor of being named an NAIA First Team All-American and his .958 fielding percentage at third base won him an NAIA Gold Glove, Biola’s first ever Gold Glove recognition.

Easing his way back into play

Fages was cleared by doctors to start lightly throwing and swinging a bat a week and a half ago, and has steadily progressed, feeling healthy enough to make two pinch-hit plate appearances in last weekend’s four game series against Vanguard.

“He’s chomping at the bit,” senior Vinnie Fayard said. “He’s our captain and our leader so it’s good to see him play. A lot of guys look up to him.”

Though he seemed healthy enough to crack the starting lineup during Saturday’s doubleheader in Costa Mesa, Fages and the coaching staff have been cautious about rushing his return.

“[My wrist] felt a little funky during batting practice,” Fages said before Saturday’s game.

Fages was brought in as an extra infielder during the closing moments of game one to protect against a squeeze play, though Vanguard still managed to execute a walk-off suicide squeeze.

Barring a setback in the coming days, Fages should be making his way into the lineup at some point next week in a four-game set against California State University San Marcos.

“It was nice putting a jersey on,” Fages said. “It’s just been more adrenaline and I’m anxious to play again.”

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