The Virginia baseball team getting Derek Fisher healthy again for the stretch run can be compared to a Major League team picking up a middle-of-the-lineup slugger at the trade deadline.
Fisher began his junior year as a Baseball America preseason first-team All-American. But his season was interrupted by a broken hamate bone in his right wrist -- suffered during the Cavaliers' ACC-opening series at Duke -- that required surgery, and cost Fisher 25 games.
Fisher returned from the injury in UVa's series finale against North Carolina at home on April 20. The outfielder is hitting .310, with two homers and five RBI in UVa's last seven games.
"Everybody comes back from that hamate bone surgery differently," UVa coach Brian O'Connor said. "And I'll tell you, it looks like, to me, that he hasn't missed a beat."
"This is the first I've ever had surgery. So it's definitely great for a confidence standpoint," Fisher said of his productive return. "I was told that I was going to come back and not be nearly as strong, and I was going to notice a lot of differences, and to kind of make baseball simple. Just barrel baseballs up, kind of use the pitcher's velocity and their power to hit balls hard, is really all I can ask for right now."
For the season, Fisher is hitting .325 with those two home runs -- hit in back-to-back games last week against VCU and Richmond -- and 12 RBI. And O'Connor thinks in at least one way, Fisher benefited from his setback.
"He's had to stay under control a little bit more, and things like that. Not try to do too much," O'Connor explained. "And I think that's when he's at his best."
Fisher also found his layoff educational -- particularly the view from the dugout.
"Sitting and watching baseball from a completely different perspective for five weeks was something that I didn't expect to do," he said. "And basically I just came to my senses and understood, I was going to do it, whether I wanted to or not."
Fisher and the Cavaliers are now off until next Wednesday's home game against Liberty because of final exams. Then it's two weeks of baseball before the start of the ACC Tournament.
And Fisher is happy that he'll be able to help the Wahoos as they head down the stretch.
"I mean, coming back, this is what I wanted to do. This is what I overall expected to do," he said. "But I just wanted to come back and have no excuses, and understand that my hand is going to be sore, but everything is fixed. And I'm going to be able to play baseball like I always have my entire life."