Trojans' Knox out for the season
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 15, 2011 1:51 AM
Mike Knox has been a key component to Mount Olive's success this season. The preseason All-America candidate will undoubtedly be a big loss.
Knox suffered a broken hand at practice on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the baseball season as the Trojans prepare for this week's NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.
The injury takes Knox's team-leading 22 home runs and 56 RBI out of the Trojans' lineup.
"Aside from what Mike brings on the field, I hate it for him because he is such a good kid," said Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster. "He does a great job in the classroom, he is a leader at practice and he is a leader between the white lines. It's tough to see something bad happen to a guy like that."
Knox suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch during batting practice. The initial prognosis is for four to six weeks of recovery time.
With his hand wrapped in a soft cast, Knox spent Wednesday's practice loading balls into the pitching machine as his Trojan teammates took their cuts.
"It really doesn't hurt that bad right now," said Knox. "But the doctor said I broke the fourth metacarpal and it is going to take some time to heal."
No stranger to injuries, Knox has played essentially his entire collegiate career in pain. While at the University of North Carolina the slugger endured four separate knee surgeries. Noticeable pain from those rebuilt knees is evident when he runs the bases.
"Every time we take the field Mike is in pain," said Lancaster. "He won't admit it because he is a competitor, but it's there. With that said, I have never seen Mike pull up or not take an extra base when he can. He is just that kind of gritty kid."
Though he will not be taking the field when regional play begins on Friday, Knox will be in the dugout supporting the club and offering advice to the younger hitters.
"I am a captain and I am going to be there for the guys because I still think we have the best team in the region," said Knox. "I'm disappointed that I won't be playing, but I will definitely be a part of it."
The loss of Knox's bat in the third spot in the batting order will force Lancaster to do some shuffling as the team goes through final preparations before the tournament. Knox's 22 home runs are nearly as many rest of the Trojan hitters combined (23) on the season.
Due to an abundance of solid bats, Lancaster has several options to examine. The most likely scenario is that catchers Tyler Smith and Nick Gaeta will be in the lineup together with one serving in Knox's designated hitter role.
Gaeta is batting .412 on the season while Smith is a .385 hitter currently. Neither have hit a home run this season.
The power in the Mount Olive lineup will be supplied by Jason Simone and Daniel Coffey, who have each hit five balls out of the park in 2011. Jacob Rogers has hit four home runs and is second on the team with 45 RBI. The trio will likely comprise the middle of the Trojans' order over the weekend.
"Whenever you lose a guy that can change a game with one swing, it forces you to look at managing the game differently as a coach," said Lancaster. "We are going to have to be aggressive, take an extra base, hit and run. It is going to take a few guys stepping up to fill in what Mike brings to the table."
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