ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Academy shortstop is expected to return after two-month absence
If you thought you’d missed your last chance to watch Alex Bregman play high school baseball, think again.
The second week of the Class 3A-5A state tournaments begin today with a welcome addition: Bregman, Albuquerque Academy’s dynamic senior shortstop.
After a two-month stint on the disabled list with a broken finger, Bregman — generally considered New Mexico’s best player — is expected to appear when the Chargers face Farmington at 2:30 p.m. in a Class 4A quarterfinal game at Eldorado.
A month ago Bregman told the Journal he was aiming to come back for this weekend, and here he is.
“Just like anyone else, I’m available to play,” Bregman said prior to a batting practice session Wednesday.
“I feel 100 percent,” Bregman said. His first BP session, on Tuesday, went extremely well as he left the yard a number of times.
He broke the middle finger on his (right) throwing hand when fielding a ground ball before a March 12 game against Manzano. He played that day, not believing it was serious. But X-rays taken after the game revealed the break.
The state’s single-season home run leader (19 last season) had played in six games prior to the injury, hitting two homers. He’s watched the rest of the 2012 season in street clothes.
“It’s been tough,” said Bregman, who has signed to play at LSU but is expected to be a fairly high selection in next month’s amateur draft. And his return today will likely coincide with a flurry of scouts coming to watch.
Asked whether he was worried about a re-injury of the finger so close to the draft, Bregman quickly shrugged it off.
“I really don’t care about the scouts,” Bregman said. “I care about winning a state championship.”
Bregman had a pin removed from the finger nearly three weeks ago and resumed baseball-related activities last week. On Tuesday, he said, he was medically cleared to play.
“That’s a game-time decision,” Academy coach Josue Ayala said when asked whether Bregman would be in the starting lineup. “We’ll let him work out (Wednesday) and we’ll see tomorrow.”
If Bregman does play, it is possible he may be somewhere besides shortstop — perhaps in the outfield. That may be done as a preventive measure to reduce the number of balls hit his way. A bad hop March 12 caused the initial break, Bregman said.
In the bigger picture, what does Bregman’s return do for everyone else?
The fifth-seeded Chargers (18-8) have a very difficult road if they want to win their first state title since 2009. First is Farmington today. If Academy advances, it is likely to get No. 1 seed and two-time defending state champion Piedra Vista in Friday’s semifinals.
St. Pius, the No. 3 seed, is after its first championship since 2003.
The quarterfinals are split between two sites, but the times are staggered. No. 4 Volcano Vista (19-7) meets No. 12 Hobbs (17-11) at 11:15 a.m. at La Cueva, followed at 1:45 p.m. by No. 3 Carlsbad (21-5) vs. No. 6 Cleveland (19-9).
At Isotopes Park, it’s No. 1 Sandia (21-5) against No. 8 Rio Rancho (19-10) at 4 p.m., with No. 2 La Cueva (23-3) vs. No. 10 Eldorado (16-10) at 6:30 p.m.
“They do a good job of not beating themselves,” Eldorado coach Jim Johns said of La Cueva. “They do a good job taking care of the ball, too, and pitching well. And consistently through district (2-5A), they’ve gotten timely hits.”
The Bears went 3-0 against the Eagles in the regular season, and only one was close.
Carlsbad got stellar pitching from Caleb Prentiss and Jered Meek in its two wins this year over Cleveland, although the Storm’s bats seem to be warming up of late.
Sandia dropped a 2-1 decision to Rio Rancho in late March, during a two-week stretch in which the Matadors’ offense largely disappeared.
Hobbs is the real unknown among the final eight as the Eagles try to get past the Hawks, who overcame major question marks about their pitching to win the District 1-5A championship.
The quarterfinals are highlighted by a rematch of last year’s state final between Hope Christian and Sandia Prep.
The Huskies won all three regular-season meetings by a combined scored of 34-8.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal