Nate Causey broke out Tuesday night, going 3-for-4 with his first career triple and a career-high five RBIs.
Despite the numbers, the evening provided more of a sense of relief than accomplishment for the Boise Hawks first baseman.
The Arizona State product saw one at-bat Opening Day before aggravating a back injury that forced him to the bench until Sunday. Tuesday marked his second game back in the lineup.
“Honestly, it felt really good because my plan of attack was so simple, and for it to work and help us win, it was pretty rewarding,” Causey said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, and it just happened for me.”
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Causey entered the season with inflammation in his right lower facet joint, a small bone to the right of his spine, that he picked up in extended spring training. He tried to grit through the injury, playing three innings in the field before his first at-bat. But after striking out swinging, he realized he couldn’t just tough it out.
“After the first at-bat, I knew it wasn’t going to work,” Causey said. “I tried swinging, and it hurt pretty bad.”
Causey remained with the team, even taking road trips as he rehabbed. He said he couldn’t do much to repair his back — only take anti-inflammatories, stretch and try to strengthen his core muscles.
The Gilbert, Ariz., native, who also catches, underwent Tommy John surgery in college. But most of the rehab took place in the offseason, making the month on the bench in Boise the longest he’s spent in his life.
“It sucked really bad, honestly,” he said. “When I first came out, I was under the impression it’d be a week off and I’ll be good to go. Then a week turned into four weeks, so I sat out for a month. Obviously, being a competitor, you just don’t want to sit there and watch for a month. It’s a long time to sit there.”
He still remains on a cautious protocol implemented by the Rockies. He played five innings Sunday, then took Monday off followed by seven innings Tuesday, when he exited despite remaining a home run shy of the cycle. He took Wednesday off but plans to return for a nine-inning game Thursday.
But he’s made an immediate impact in Boise’s lineup, going 4-for-6 with a double, a triple and six RBIs in 12 innings since returning.
“It’s almost been like a new season for him,” Hawks manager Frank Gonzales said. “He’s got good energy. He came out and ran for a triple. I’m not sure he’s used to that. We’ll see how he responds.”
Indians 9, Hawks 7
|Cedeno, D, LF||5||2||2||1||0||0||.264|
|McDonald, T, DH||4||0||1||0||0||3||.160|
|Marte, H, C||5||1||2||2||0||1||.308|
|Jones, W, DH||4||0||0||1||0||2||.111|
|Castro, L, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||.200|
E—Sanchez, Moore, Forbes; Burcham. DP—Spokane 1. LOB—Spokane 8, Boise 8. 2B—Sanchez; Castro.. 3B—Moore. HR—Clark 2, Cedeno, Long; Marte. SF—Sanchez; Jones. SB—Yrizarri; Derkes, Carroll, Padlo. CS—Yrizarri; Padlo.
|Bass W, 1-1||5||4||0||0||1||4||3.78|
|Springs H, 2||3||1||1||1||1||5||3.00|
|Scheibe S, 1||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||3.52|
|Welmon L, 0-3||3.2||3||3||1||1||3||5.55|
WP—Beltre, Welmon 2. HBP—Moore (by Welmon), Carroll (by Beltre), Mundell (by Beltre). T—3:40. A—2,587.