Chase Weissenborn may be happier than anyone when the University of New Mexico baseball team returns to action Friday.
It’s been a long, painful wait between games and, in Weissenborn’s case, COVID-19 had nothing to do with it.
Yes, the coronavirus pandemic is a significant player in this weekend’s three-game series between the Lobos and the host Washington Huskies. Both teams had previously scheduled series canceled because their respective opponents (UNLV and Stanford) have COVID-related issues.
UNM (8-14) and Washington (15-17) agreed this week to play each other instead.
For the Lobos, who were recently sidelined by a positive test result of their own, the trip to Seattle will end a span of 20 days between games. For Weissenborn, it’s been nearly six weeks.
A freshman infielder and Albuquerque native, Weissenborn is trying to bounce back from a run of injury and illness that threatened to derail a promising start to his collegiate career.
First, Weissenborn suffered a lacerated kidney during a collision during UNM’s March 14 game at Fresno State. His recovery was complicated by a nasty bout of food poisoning.
All in all, it was an experience the Albuquerque Academy graduate would like to forget.
“They told me it was somewhere between a grade-3 and grade-4 kidney laceration,” Weissenborn said. “I just know it was extremely painful. I’d never felt anything like that.”
The injury occurred when a base runner’s knee inadvertently struck Weissenborn’s abdomen during a play at second base. The injury did not require surgery, but it did sideline Weissenborn for roughly four to six weeks.
Then came the food poisoning.
“That was awful. I lost 13 pounds,” said Weissenborn, who was listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds before the illness.
Fortunately, Weissenborn has since regained most of the weight, and he has been fully cleared to return to baseball.
UNM coach Ray Birmingham is hoping Weissenborn can pick up where he left off six weeks ago.
Weissenborn had scratched his way into the Lobos’ starting lineup, playing second base and shortstop, and was hitting .300 with two doubles and five RBIs in 12 games.
“He was looking like an all-conference player, even a freshman All-American,” Birmingham said. “It was a fluke injury, but those things are scary. I’m just glad he’s healthy and back with the team.”
Weissenborn smiled when asked about returning just in time for a demanding four-game stretch. After facing Washington this weekend, UNM visits fifth-ranked Texas Tech on Wednesday.
“That’s fine. I always want to play against good, talented teams,” he said. “But right now I’d be excited to play just about anyone.”
The Lobos and Huskies will play Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. The latter two games will be broadcast locally on 101.7 FM. All three will be streamed on Pac-12 Plus.
Baseball: New Mexico at Washington, 4 p.m., streaming at Pac-12 Plus at pac-12.com
(Also Saturday, 3 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m.