Watching Mike Fransoso play shortstop for the University of Maine, most observers would have no idea he is not 100 percent healthy.
It is uncomfortable for him to get into and out of a car.
Even so, barely three months after having surgery to repair an injury to his right hip, the sophomore is rounding into shape.
Fransoso made a speedy return to the Black Bears’ lineup in March and has gradually regained his health and game timing. He hopes to keep progressing this weekend during UMaine’s three-game America East baseball series at Hartford.
“I think the last week I noticed a huge difference and other people have noticed that I’m starting to move a lot better,” said the the 6-foot, 175-pounder from Portsmouth, N.H. “I’ll tweak it every now and then and it will hurt for maybe a couple minutes.”
Fransoso anchors the infield for UMaine, which has been utilizing freshman starters all season at second base and third base. He was the starting second baseman last season.
UMaine coach Steve Trimper said having Fransoso in the lineup, even back when he was limited because of the surgery and lack of practice time, has been valuable.
“He brings a presence to the field. He knows how to play the position,” Trimper said. “He’s got a lot of his career ahead of him, but he does have some confidence from last year that he has built off.”
Fransoso underwent surgery Jan. 5 to repair an injury to his right hip that had flared up during fall practices. The procedure was performed in Nashville, Tenn., by Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd, who has worked on many professional athletes.
Fransoso explained the damage was not as extensive as first diagnosed, but the surgery still involved repairing a torn labrum and shaving down a portion of bone.
Fransoso was on crutches until Feb. 7 and began to do some light, supervised exercise during workouts in the Mahaney Dome as the Bears prepared for the season.
“He works extremely hard,” Trimper said. “He’s a very passionate baseball player.”
After making a follow-up visit to Dr. Byrd, Fransoso was cleared to begin playing during UMaine’s Florida trip.
It took Fransoso a long time to rediscover his timing as a hitter. He was forced to stop playing during the fall season because of the hip problem, and didn’t start swinging a bat again until Florida.
“Obviously, I got off to a tough start. I was thinking about whether I came back too early,” he admitted.
Since he attacked the rehabilitation process, Fransoso endured discomfort along the way. He has continued to work hard to regain his full health.
“I’m just trying to strengthen right now. I get in the weight room three times a week and do a lot of leg-oriented stuff,” said Fransoso, who also does a lot of stretching to keep the hip flexible.
Last weekend against Stony Brook, Fransoso appeared to rediscover his batting stroke. He went 6-for-14 with a double, a stolen base and two RBIs.
Fransoso is batting .265 over his last 10 games and has pushed his average to .211 with one home run, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases in four attempts.
“Last week was a confidence booster,” he said. “I was driving a lot of baseballs and see it really well. It’s coming along.”
Considering that when his injury was first diagnosed, the prognosis was he would likely miss most or all of the 2011 season, Fransoso is pleased with the way things have turned out.
“I’ve progressed really well, actually, and I’m surprised that I’m at this level that I am right now,” Fransoso said. “I thought it was going to take a little bit longer.”