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SALT LAKE CITY — Former University of Utah baseball star C.J. Cron loves the Wasatch Front, but it was an unfortunate set of events that has brought him back to Smith's Ballpark and the Salt Lake Bees.
On July 8, Cron was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Mike Wright of the Baltimore Orioles. It was revealed in an MRI that Cron had broken his hand, and he was placed on the disabled list with no timetable set for his return. He began a rehab assignment with the Bees on Friday, Aug. 12, where he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
“It’s awesome," Cron said. "I love these parts. Just coming back, seeing the mountains and seeing all my old buddies from college I played with. It’s always a good time. I’m glad I was able to come down for a little bit even though the circumstances weren’t perfect. But like I said, I like this city and I’m glad I could come back.”
Cron was on fire prior to the injury. He was hitting .278 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs. During a 10-game road trip for the Los Angeles Angels, Cron had seven extra-base hits and 17 RBIs eight games into the trip. The Angels also won five of those eight games. Cron also had a .810 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS), which was second on the team behind Mike Trout.
"We were winning some ballgames, and it’s fun," Cron said. "It’s fun when you win, especially with how we started. We were all having a good time, so it kind of put a damper on things. But I’m looking forward to getting back.”
During his busy schedule with the Angels, Cron also took time to pay attention to his alma mater and its run to the Pac-12 championship.
“It was awesome," Cron said. "I was really, really happy for Coach K(inneberg) and the staff. It’s a tough transition from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. You kind of saw that early on for a couple of years. But to be able to see a dogpile out here and just see a smile on Coach K’s face and finally get it done was pretty cool.”
In 2009, while playing at the University of Utah, Cron was named a second team freshman All-American as well as being named Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. In 2010, he was named MWC Player of the Year and third-team All-American. And in his final season with the Utes, he was named a Baseball America All-American after leading the nation in OPS (1.320) and slugging percentage.
For the former All-American, getting back on the field and getting back to work is the most important part of his rehabilitation.
“I’m just trying to get back," Cron said. "We haven’t really set a firm timetable. Kind of just whenever I feel like the swings are good enough and the at-bats are good enough maybe then we can start talking. We’ll see. Just trying to get better each day.”
Kyle McDonald is an avid sports fan of the Chicago Cubs and the UVU Wolverines. He is currently a communication major at UVU and will graduate in the spring of 2017. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias.