By Jim Sullivan
---- — As far as Newburyport baseball coach Steve Malenfant is concerned, as go his seven seniors, so goes his season.
Making things a bit more dramatic this year is the fact that two of those seniors, catcher and co-captain Connor Wile and outfielder Andrew Fiascone haven’t had a regular season at-bat since before last season thanks to the same injury in their throwing arms.
Wile suffered a torn labrum during a scrimmage against The Governor’s Academy last preseason, and Fiascone did the same in a JV game against Masco during the tail end of the Clippers’ championship season in 2011.
“The last real game I played was the championship game,” said Wile. “So, basically it’s like picking up right back from the state championship year for me.”
Both players had labral repair surgery in the meantime, and went on about the difficult business of rehab. While Fiascone has been chomping at the bit to hit the diamond again, Wile bounced back to play a half season in football as the Clippers’ quarterback and then went on to co-captain the hockey team.
“(Injury concerns) were there, definitely in the first few football games,” Wile said. “I was worried about tearing it again or that my shoulder would pop out again or something if I let loose. But I’m mostly past that. I know the doctor did a good job. It’s repaired, it’s not going anywhere.”
“I had the luxury of being able to take my time,” said Fiascone. “I didn’t have to worry about football. So, I started to work with a physical therapist. Started to stay in shape for when baseball came around.”
Always prepping for his season, Malenfant kept an eye on Wile during football and hockey.
“I think this is a statement season for him,” Malenfant said of Wile. “I know he had a statement season in football, a statement season in hockey. He’s a feature that we need because of his composure. His ability to work with the pitchers, and I could say the same thing baseball-wise with Andrew.”
“They’re both baseball mature,” said Malenfant. “They’re both students of the game. They’re both quiet leaders. They both take everything that they approach with a great deal of seriousness and a great deal of competitiveness. If they can’t measure up, they’ll be the first to tell me.”
This year will be the first season that Fiascone will play for varsity, and he knows that alone will be an adjustment but has high hopes.
“I’m excited,” said Fiascone. “Because I haven’t had a chance to play a real sport since sophomore year. I skipped my whole junior year of sports trying to get this thing fixed. So now I’m excited to finally get back on the field.”
While both players say they are ready to go, their coach knows they will have a little more on their mind than some of their fellow players when they hit the field next month.
“You always feel that, when you have an injury, you have something to prove,” said Malenfant. “And they both have something to prove to themselves. Based on their work ethic and everything coming into this, they have nothing to prove to me.”