Jan. 30, 2007
With the 2007 baseball season just around the corner, the Diamond Dawgs are hard at work each day, practicing at Husky Ballpark. With one Pac-10 team already having started its season, and six more getting underway this weekend, the Huskies will have to wait until Feb. 16, when they open the '07 campaign vs. Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
Recently, gohuskies.com sat down with UW slugger Matt Hague, a junior from Kent, Wash. In his two seasons as an outfielder with the Huskies, Hague has compiled a .394 batting average, the highest career average in school history. A first-team All-Pac-10 selection last season, he has earned third-team preseason All-America honors this year.
Here's what Matt had to say about overcoming injuries during the offseason, his move from right field to third base and the upcoming baseball season:
gohuskies.com: Tell us what you've been up to since the end of last season. You had surgery, didn't you?
Matt Hague: I've been rehabbing a lot, working to get better so that I can play this season. I hit a lot. I could still hit, I just couldn't run. So, I was limited in what I can do. But I just tried to get ready.
gohuskies: What sort of injuries did you have?
Hague: I tore a meniscus [knee cartilage] and my hamstring was pretty severely pulled. So I had to do some pretty serious rehab on that too, at the same time that I had my meniscus surgery.
gohuskies: When do you think you got back to full strength?
Hague: After Christmas break, I think. It's a pretty intense workout for the team in the fall, with lots of conditioning and all that. I was almost there during the fall, probably 90 percent. But then I had to rest everything up and I'm all healthy now.
gohuskies: Did you miss getting to play baseball during the summer?
Hague: Yeah, I missed it. I didn't get to do anything. It's pretty hard not getting to play baseball during the summer when everyone else is out there getting extra at bats.
gohuskies: How much of last year's college season do you think you were affected by injuries?
Hague: Probably the last half or so. I think it was against Cal Poly [March 18-20] when everything started, when I pulled my hamstring. Then, at Portland about midway through, is when I tore my meniscus when I stepped in a little hole in the outfield.
gohuskies: But now you feel like you're 100 percent?
Hague: Yes, definitely. We have a good strength program here and it got everything going again.
gohuskies: How do you feel about the team right now with a couple of weeks before the season gets going?
Hague: Good. I think it's a pretty dynamic team. I think we have some power arms. And I think our bats will always be there. We've been picking it up a lot recently. We've been doing pretty well against live pitching?
gohuskies: You've made the move from the outfield to third base this year. How do you like it so far?
Hague: It's fun. I like it. There's a lot more action and it keeps you on your toes a lot more. You don't sit around waiting for a fly ball. You really have to focus in on every pitch. It's a lot more work, but it's fun.
gohuskies: What positions did you play in high school?
Hague: Shortstop, mostly. I played a little first base and caught a little too.
gohuskies: Did it take much time to pick up on how to play third base?
Hague: Well, since I was a middle infielder in high school, so I developed infield skills then. But, playing infield in college is a lot different. Everything's a lot faster. Coach [Donny] Harrel has taught me a lot of the little stuff I had to learn.
gohuskies: Are you excited about the start of the season?
Hague: I'm ready to go! I wish we could play tomorrow. I think we're ready to play already. There's just a little tuning up here and there and we're ready to go.
gohuskies: As a junior and one of the most experienced guys, do you find yourself taking more of a leadership role this season?
Hague: Yeah. We've had a few new leaders step up this year. The younger guys really pick up on it. We try to help them find their role in the program and help out and work hard.
gohuskies: Do you set goals for yourself for the season?
Hague: Yeah, little goals. The biggest goal is to make it to the postseason; to get into a regional. I think the individual goals will happen if I just play to win.
gohuskies: You're probably aware that, coming into the season, you have the highest career batting average in school history. Is that something you think about?
Hague: It's in the back of my head. It's kind of hard not to think about it. But I try to just focus on winning and figure things will take care of themselves.
gohuskies: Thanks, Matt. Good luck!