Long recovery for injured Cardinals infielder
For Zack Ranta the 2015 baseball season can’t arrive fast enough.
The 22-year-old Hamilton Cardinals infielder suffered a multi-ankle fracture during the team’s Intercounty Baseball League season opener in Burlington on May 10, ending his season and any hope of finding a summer job.
Ranta was beginning his fifth season with the Cardinals.
“It’s still pretty painful,” said the Stoney Creek resident and Orchard Park high school graduate during a recent interview.
The good news is Ranta, who underwent surgery several hours later at Joseph Brant Hospita lin Burlington, should be able to return to the field next season after several months of recovery and physiotherapy.
“The doctor sounded pretty confident, the bones will heal,” said Ranta, who will be returning to Gannon University in Erie,Pennsylvania for a fourth year in August where he is on a baseball scholarship. “I don’t think it will hinder my performance too much.”
Ranta’s left ankle was mangled when Burlington Bandits outfielder and coach Brian Sewell slid hard into second base during the fourth inning.
Ranta said the Bandits player smacked the ball into left field and was trying to turn the hit into a double.
“As soon as I caught the ball I just felt him slide into my ankle,” Ranta recalled. “I heard it snap and a pop and then I was down on the ground.”
The sight of the badly twisted foot caused Cards’ field manager Matt Fortuna to pass out briefly.
”It was a really gruesome injury,” Fortuna said
Action was suspended at that point (with Hamilton leading 5-2) and the game will resume on June 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Ranta noted he was standing behind second base waiting for the throw from left field.
“My back was turned to him, I didn’t see him coming,” Ranta said. “I think it was kind of dirty.”
Ranta said Sewell touched the base with his hand while spiking him on the leg.
“There wasn’t much need for a slide,” he said. “He was pretty much safe.”
His injured ankle now has a metal plate running along the left side which is held in place by a couple of screws.
Ranta, who has been getting around on crutches, said the cast on the wounded limb is slated to be replaced on Friday with a lighter covering which he will have to wear until around the end of June at which time he expects to be fitted with a walking boot and begin several months of physiotherapy to strengthen the tendons and ligaments that got stretched out.
He hopes to be back playing baseball at full speed by next February.
Meanwhile, Sewell has been suspended by the IBL pending a hearing.
“I don’t think he should be playing anymore,” Ranta said.
The Hamilton Cardinals home opener against Burlington last Sunday was cancelled due to poor field conditions at Bernie Arbour Stadium. That game has been rescheduled to June 8 at 2 p.m. as part of a doubleheader. The Card’s home opener is now slated for Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Guelph.