NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mike Fransoso has been the straw that stirs the drink in the University of Maine infield for the last three seasons.
The all-conference shortstop from Portsmouth, N.H., has achieved and maintained that status despite dealing with painful and nagging injuries.
The Black Bears senior is back at the Nashville Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, where on Wednesday he underwent surgery to repair damage to his troublesome right hip.
“It’s pretty frustrating, but I’ve got to get it done, I’ve got to get healthy,” Fransoso said.
It was the second procedure performed on the hip by Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd in the last 20 months.
“They just kind of cleaned it up a little bit,” Fransoso explained. “I had some torn cartilage, which was causing me to hear some cracks and pops.”
Fransoso first had surgery in January 2011 to repair damage from a congenital condition that caused the hip bone to rub and tear cartilage in the hip. He recovered quickly and rejoined the lineup on the Black Bears’ Florida trip.
He helped spark UMaine to the America East championship and a spot in the NCAA Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional.
Even though Byrd had cleared him to play, the wear and tear of the college season and the subsequent summer league began to take a toll.
Fransoso visited Dr. Byrd a year ago in August to have the hip re-evaluated and the decision was made to rest and rehabilitate it rather than do another surgery. Fransoso took it easy during fall ball and was ready to go for the 2012 season.
He batted .327 with five home runs, 18 doubles, four triples and 26 runs batted in. He scored a team-leading 59 runs and stole 19 bases and posted a .950 fielding percentage.
The unanimous America East first-team selection was the only Black Bear to start all 56 games, but his hips continued to give him trouble, more so as the season progressed.
“I’d play a nine-inning game and I couldn’t even bend my knees, my hips were so sore,” Fransoso said.
Undaunted, he earned a roster spot with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he batted .268 with eight doubles, 13 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
The hip issues persisted.
“It was really aggravating me from playing every day. I’d go into the hole to make a play and I’d hear something pop, or I’d feel it running the bases hard,” said Fransoso, who talked with Trimper, UMaine athletic trainer Amy Adamo and his Chatham coaches before deciding to have another surgery.
Fransoso, who played 95 games during 2012, said most athletes have to play through a certain level of discomfort.
“Everybody kind of plays with a little bit of injury once you get to college,” he said. “There’s always something.”
Fransoso was pleased with his efforts at Chatham playing in a wooden-bat league against many of the best college players in the country.
“It was awesome,” he said. “The competition was unbelievable. I’ve never played anything like that in my life. The pitchers were almost impossible to hit. I think it’ll help me this year at Maine, [after] facing that competition every day.”
Wednesday’s surgery means Fransoso will sit out fall ball to get completely healed and rehabilitated. He said he also will be doing strengthening and stretching exercises on his left hip, which also has given him some problems.
He fully expects to be healed and ready to go for the Black Bears’ 2013 campaign.
“This time, I’m really taking a good three or four months off so I can be as healthy as I can for my senior season,” Fransoso said.