Junior right fielder, Kaleb Hutchinson, is not an extra on The Sopranos, but he does have some experience breaking bones with a baseball bat. Unfortunately for the Red’s slugger, those bones were his own, as Hutchinson missed all of last season after suffering a rare fracture to his left wrist while batting in the Fall of ’04.
“[The injury’s] pretty rare except for golfers and baseball players,” Hutchinson said.
One sophomore season and a couple of cortisone shots later, Hutchinson is back in the swing of things for Cornell (2-4), holding down the cleanup slot in the Red’s first six games this season.
Despite getting off to slow start in the Red’s first four games against Bucknell, Hutchinson came on strong last weekend against Villanova and La Salle, recording two hits, two runs and two RBIs on the road trip.
“Kaleb I think has swung the bat pretty well … with real hard contact, but it’s just been right at guys,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We certainly look for him to be a guy that’s going to be in the middle of the lineup and that’s going to produce some runs for us and hit with some power.”
Hitting for power was a specialty for Hutchinson in his first year with Cornell as he slammed three round-trippers, while driving in 17 runs and hitting for a .288 average. However, the right fielder is less concerned with putting up big numbers than he is with helping the team’s overall performance.
“I’m more of a line-driver hitter,” Hutchinson said. “I always look at the situation – you don’t just go up there and swing the bat as hard as you can every time, obviously. I just try and do whatever’s going to get the job done.”
Hutchinson not only gets the job done at the plate, but he has also proved himself a solid right fielder for Cornell, committing only two errors while starting all 42 games during his rookie season.
“He’s a very good athlete and he’s a guy that can go get the ball in the outfield,” Ford said. “He has a strong accurate arm – a right fielder’s arm.”
The road back to everyday starter has not been an easy one for Hutchinson, who still has fragments of bone floating around in his wrist.
“Its difficult missing a whole year and not seeing live pitching,” Ford said. “But I think he’s over it – I haven’t noticed any lack of power or that he’s cutting his swing down. He’s a tough competitor, and whether it hurts or not, he’s going to be in there competing.”
Crucial to Hutchinson’s comeback are the intangibles that don’t show up in the box score. Specifically, in Ford’s opinion, Hutchinson’s competitiveness and intensity have played a large role in speeding the slugger back to playing form.
“He’s a very intense, very focused guy,” Ford said. “He just kind of has that drive, he just wants to always do better next time.”
Hutchinson agreed with Ford, and was also quick to distance himself from slightly more famous, slightly less intense, outfielder, the Boston Red Sox’s Manny Ramirez.
“I would never compare myself to him,” Hutchinson said. “I’m pretty competitive. I don’t like to lose at anything, whether it’s just a pickup game of basketball or whatever.”
Archived article by Paul Testa Sun Assistant Sports Editor