Van Doornum carrying UH on sore shoulders
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Jeffrey Van Doornum is shouldering a load this season for the Hawai'i baseball team.
And he's doing it with two recently repaired shoulders.
The Rainbows' fourth-year junior outfielder/designated hitter has shown signs of returning to form of his red-shirt freshman season, when he hit .299 with 21 doubles, four home runs and 44 RBIs.
But injuries to both shoulders set him back last season, when he saw his numbers drop to .228 with five doubles, a triple, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 43 games.
Van Doornum had labrum surgery on each shoulder a month apart over the summer. He spent the fall rehabilitating. In fact, he continues his rehab as the season goes along.
"It was a rough experience," Van Doornum said. "I already had surgery on my right shoulder from my freshman year, so I knew what it was like. I felt that same pain. It was really tough, but it was something I had to do because I realized you can play with pain, but you can't play injured."
Though not a hundred percent, Van Doornum is showing signs he's pretty close. His .336 batting average is second-best among regulars on the team. His 17 extra-base hits — including eight home runs — lead the team.
"You look at his numbers and how he's doing, it tells you he's pretty close to where he was," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "He's still not a hundred percent because now and then it will flare up and he'll need to rest it and put some ice on it."
Van Doornum's right shoulder had given him problems, but the fall before the 2009 season, he injured the left shoulder diving for a ball.
"I got fully extended, dove and kind of popped it out," Van Doornum said.
What didn't help was that his right shoulder continued to give him problems. Still, he pondered his situation and elected to play.
"I kind of just played through it, try to do what I could to help the team win," Van Doornum said.
He gutted it out and finished the season, returned to California and had labrum surgeries. He had them a month apart because he had to wear a sling for two weeks after each surgery.
"It takes a while to get your range of motion," Van Doornum said.
Although he has been mostly at DH this season., Van Doornum played three games in the outfield this past road trip to Sacramento State and Louisiana Tech. While he made some nice plays, it was his bat that did some damage.
Van Doornum batted .444 with six home runs, 12 runs and 12 RBIs, but downplayed his performance.
"It was just getting the right pitches at the right time and capitalizing on it," he said. "The home runs will come. We were playing on the road, where home runs were easier to hit."
Essentially, Van Doornum picked up the pop left by Christian Johnson. Johnson tore his labrum sort of the same way Van Doornum did, diving for a fly ball against Sacramento State on April 17. Trapasso said Johnson is out 4 to 6 weeks. Instead of surgery, he is hoping rehabilitation will be enough.
"He'll try to rehab and see if he can come back by the end of the season," Trapasso said.
When Western Athletic Conference play started, Johnson was hitting .533 (8 for 15) with three homers and five RBIs.
THIS WEEKEND'S TICKET PRICES: Lower/middle levels, $8; upper level: adults, $6; senior citizens, $5; students, $3. Mānoa Maniacs lower JJ, $5.