Sports

Unlucky break for SK grad

Don’t ask Travis Hanson about Murphy’s law — he knows all about it.

After all, the 1999 graduate of South Kitsap High School was staring a promotion to the St. Louis Cardinals double AA team straight in the face when his season came to a sudden end June 3 in Palm Beach, Fla.

“The first thing that flashed through my mind was ‘am I going to be able play again?’” Hanson said last week from Florida. “Then it was more like ‘dammit, I’m going to miss the whole season.’”

Hanson was leading his team, the Class A Palm Beach Cardinals, in RBIs and had just been chosen to his second-straight all-star team. But then the worst thing could have happened, happened — Hanson broke his leg after colliding with a fielder just short of second base.

“It was such a freak play,” Hanson said. “I was on first going to second and I was out, so I pulled up instead of sliding into the bag and the next thing I know, the shortstop and I are all tangled up.

“I’ve never had an injury like this before,” Hanson said. “I would always just go out there and play. I guess I went out with a bang.”

When the pair were separated, Hanson had dislocated his ankle and broke his fibula. His meteoric rise through the minor leagues was temporarily halted.

Hanson seemed to be on the verge of yet another quick promotion this summer. He was carrying a .259 average with 39 RBI, 11 doubles and two homers just 57 games into the 2004 season. He had made the change the organization had wanted him to make, shifting to second base from his all-too-familiar third base in order to get him to the big club sooner.

“(The organization) knows I can play third, but they said I was a good enough athlete to play second,” Hanson said. “They liked my bat enough that they wanted me to continue playing for them instead of using me as trade bait.”

And he had begun to hear the talk about moving up to Class AA Tennessee. Hanson played a year of Class A ball in Peoria, Ill., last year before moving to Palm Beach.

“I don’t let it boil over in my mind,” Hanson said. “I expect I’ll be in Tennessee sometime next year. That’s a good thing to know going into the offseason. I’ll be in a better frame of mind.”

Hanson, who played three years at the University of Portland after graduating from SK, just had screws removed from his ankle Aug. 6. Since he broke it, Hanson has been limited by a full-leg cast and now a walking boot.

“I couldn’t do anything until about three weeks ago,” Hanson said. “It sucks to even get up and cook food, so I’ve lost some weight.”

His rehabilitation has his full attention now, concentrating more on the future than watching the present. He has attended a few game since the injury but not many.

“I can’t watch too much, it really just bums me out,” Hanson said. “It just eats at me that I can’t be out there helping the team.”

The Cardinals could have used some help at the end of the first half.

When Hanson went down, PB was leading its division by three and half games. The Cardinals ended by losing eight of its last 10 games and blew the division title.

“That pissed me off,” Hanson said. “I wished I could have been there to help out.”

Through Aug. 11, Palm Beach was 26-20 in the second half, two and a half games behind Vero Beach. And his replacement, Mike McCoy, is hitting .293 with two home runs and 17 RBI in 41 games.

“I played with him in Peoria,” Hanson said. “He’s a good guy.”

With his team safely in contention, Hanson has turned to getting himself ready for next season. The first order of business was learning how to walk again.

“I’ve been in the pool some, working on my range of motion,” Hanson said. “One thing is the rehab will make my leg stronger than it’s ever been. If anything, I’m getting more strength out of this, that’s the way I look at it.”

Hanson said he will start slowly, just walking short distances for the next couple of weeks. He said the break is a 4-5 month injury, meaning he won’t really begin any rehab until October.

“I just have to work my way up to it,” Hanson said. “I’ve only missed three games in my entire pro career so this is kind of new to me.”

After a month or two of light running, Hanson said he will hit the weights hard all the way through February, which won’t be very different from his normal offseason.

“Last year I ran from November to March,” Hanson said. “I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I lost a lot of body fat and gained a lot of muscle.”

Hanson has been staying in Palm Beach but may go home to Portland soon to begin rehabbing. He said he will stay away from baseball-type workouts until November when he will throw a little and start hitting balls off a tee in his garage.

“Mainly, I just think about all the good stuff,” Hanson said. “I’m trying to keep in the right frame of mind and not let it get to me. Mentally, I’m not doing too bad. I think I’ll be that way all the way through.”

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