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OSU's Susac eyes mid-May return

Two Beaver starters undergo same surgery
by: COURTESY OF OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac, recovering from a broken hand, hopes to be back in the lineup by mid-May.

He isn't sure exactly how quickly his recovery will be, but Andrew Susac already has his return to Oregon State's lineup charted out.

The Beavers' slugging catcher, who underwent surgery Monday in Sacramento for a broken hamate bone in his left hand, was told by doctors he can start swinging a bat off a tee after two weeks, with an estimated five weeks for full recovery.

That would put Susac's return at May 16 - the day after OSU's three-game series at Washington. The ninth-ranked Beavers have series against Southern Cal and Oregon after that before potentially beginning postseason play.

'A couple of Pac-10 series, then on to the playoffs - that's what I'm hoping,' said the 6-1, 205-pound sophomore, who hails from Roseville, a Sacramento suburb. 'You don't want to rush back from this kind of surgery, because it can get worse, but my whole goal is to get back as soon as possible.'

Susac is Oregon State's leader in several offensive categories, including batting average (.364), home runs (four, tied with Parker Berberet) and on-base percentage (.496). He broke the bone during his last at-bat in an 8-4 win at Arizona on April 3.

The surgery 'went great,' Susac said. 'It was probably the cleanest break you could get.'

Ironically, another Sacramento-area product - freshman Jake Rodriguez - suffered a break in the same bone. They underwent surgery a couple of hours apart Monday in Sacramento.

The 5-8, 190-pound Rodriguez is hitting .319 with two homers and 22 RBIs while starting at either second or third base. He has also served as Oregon State's third-string catcher behind Susac and Berberet.

Marty Lees, Oregon State's veteran associate head coach, calls Rodriguez 'the toughest kid we've had since I've been here. He'll walk through fire, step on glass to get the job done. You can flat-out count on him. He's a special kid to be around.'

OSU coach Pat Casey said losing Susac means the Beavers will be without 'one of the two or three best players in the Pac-10. He's a big difference-maker.'

With Rodriguez out, too, the Beavers are working with junior pitcher Ryan Gorton to serve as the emergency backup catcher.

'Losing Andrew and Jake really hurts,' Casey said, 'but all we can do is worry about the guys who can play.'

The Beavers hope to regain the services of sophomore outfielder Garrett Nash, who has been out since injuring his throwing (right) arm at Long Beach State three weeks ago, for this weekend's three-game series at Stanford.

Susac, meanwhile, said he and Rodriguez will drive to Stanford to watch their teammates in the series with the Cardinals.

'We're going to stay down there the whole weekend,' said Susac, who will return to Corvallis next Monday. 'We wouldn't miss it.'