Healthy Maves, recovered from bone injury, has become Bristol Blues' hottest hitter

Published on Friday, 26 July 2019 20:26
Written by ZACK CARPENTER

@ZACKCARPENTERBP

BRISTOL - Kyle Maves is back, and he’s playing better than ever. 

The Bristol Blues second baseman’s season got off to a dreadful 2-for-18 start (.111 average) through his first six games of the summer, and the next few weeks didn’t go much better, his average only reaching .213 by July 1 while spending his time at the bottom of the order. 

The main culprit of the underwhelming start was a cracked bone in his hand that disrupted the fluidness and effectiveness of his swing, an injury he had felt since his first game June 6 against the Brockton Rox. 

After grinding through a discomfort that he says ranged from tolerable to nearly unbearable, he remembers fouling a pitch back in an at-bat against the North Shore Navigators on June 30, and from there the pain got worse.

Maves says he could barely hold onto his bat during a game the next day, and that’s when he finally decided to go see a doctor, who after a CT scan informed him the cracked bone had led to inflammation in his hand. 

Maves took the doctor’s advice of sitting out two weeks to allow his hand to heal, leaving Bristol and going back home for nine days before coming back to Muzzy Field and being reinserted into the lineup July 20 against the Westfield Starfires. 

Blues manager Ronnie Palmer didn’t waste any time with Maves, either. He stuck the left-handed hitter right into the two-hole, and he has been lighting it up ever since. 

He announced his re-arrival with back-to-back 2-for-4 performances and capped off the hottest stretch for a Blues hitter over the last week with two straight three-hit nights on Tuesday and Wednesday to raise his average to .318, including falling a home run short of the cycle on Tuesday. 

“It’s being able to get healthy and 100 percent. That’s what’s happened,” Maves said. “I was seeing the ball really well before, and then I would get pitches down the middle and pop them to left field instead of staying on them and driving them. It was kind of annoying and frustrating so to be back in form feels good.”

Palmer says there was no hesitation in thrusting Maves right into the two-hole upon his return because the coaching staff was aware of his ability. Maves, however, was taken aback by the move, but teammate Brandon Miller told him to roll with it. 

“Even before he started hitting, he said he was gonna come back and start raking. That’s what he said,” says Miller, who has watched Maves provide a key spark to a 23-20 squad. “And I was like, that’s the mindset to have. He goes, ‘Yeah as soon as my hand’s healed nothing’s gonna stop me,’ and I was like, ‘Hey, all the power to you. We need the help in the lineup.’”

Other than being healthy, is one of Maves’ secrets having his fellow southpaw hitter Miller - one of the league leaders with a .359 batting average - provide him with some batting lessons?

“No, but he gave me his bat actually,” Maves said. 

Miller is notorious for breaking his bats this summer, estimating he’s sent at least 10 or more to the wood chipper. Maves finally joined Miller’s club by breaking his first one Tuesday, and he’s used Miller’s bat since. 

A new bat, health and some subtle mechanical changes to his batting stance of raising his hands up a bit higher have all added up to Maves starting to show the talent that Miller has come to expect. 

“I know he’s got the pop to put them in the trees in right,” Miller said of Maves, who has yet to hit a home run in college or with the Blues. “You get your hands out there, maybe you’ll put one in the trees. He’s got the big muscles. He looks like he should be on Baywatch. He’s got the power. He’s just gotta do it. 

“It’s tough to hit it out to left. If he can get those inside pitches and get ‘em elevated, it’s gonna be a rough time for the pitchers.”

Maves started 30 games as a freshman at Quinnipiac, where he helped the program reach the NCAA Tournament with a .260/.359/.325 slash line in 40 total games. 

Bolstered by his recent hot stretch with the Blues, he is slashing .318/.416/.439, and he’s starting to get back into the same rhythm where he was hitting in the .280s before a poor five-game stretch to close the season. 

“This is how I felt at the beginning of the college season,” Maves said. “I’m going up with confidence and feeling that nobody’s gonna beat me. It’s good to be back.”

Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Blues on Friday, 26 July 2019 20:26. Updated: Friday, 26 July 2019 20:29.