116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Matt Wallner was in the middle of a breakout season.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder was on everything at the plate, hitting in the .330s, driving the ball, doing everything the parent Minnesota Twins wanted the 39th-overall pick of the 2019 draft to do and then some.
One swing in late May changed everything. Wallner said he got a little over-extended, felt a pop in his hand, discovered he couldn’t grip or swing a bat anymore, and knew that wasn’t good. He was diagnosed with a broken hamate bone, had surgery to remove it and missed two months.
“You just learn to deal with it,” he said Wednesday night, after his team’s 8-5 loss to Quad Cities at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “It sucks. I hated being out every single day. I love playing. Just part of the game … Injuries at any level are frustrating for anyone.”
This was the 14th game since Wallner returned to Cedar Rapids. He hit five home runs his first week back, which was borderline absurd in a good way, but is on a rough 1-for-21 stretch that has seen his season batting average dip below .300 for the first time.
He went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored here, as the Kernels (44-36) lost a second game in a row to the High-A Central League’s top club (53-35). His hand and wrist area don’t feel perfect, and it’s an adjustment, as you’d imagine, playing through that.
“It feels decent, but it’s still a struggle to get it going every day,” Wallner said. “Strength might be a little down but nothing too bad.”
The Kernels are 3-11 this season against the River Bandits, 41-24 against everyone else. These teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.
Cedar Rapids does remain in a tie with Great Lakes for second place overall in the league and the final available playoff spot. There are 40 regular-season games remaining for C.R., including 10 against Quad Cities.
Logan Porter and Jake Means had two-run home runs against starting and losing pitcher Tyler Watson (2-2). With a sterling 1.68 earned run average coming in, Watson uncustomarily gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings.
DaShawn Keirsey Jr. and Max Smith had homers for the Kernels.
Nick Loftin of Quad Cities was hit in the head by a 93-mile-per-hour fastball from Kernels relief pitcher Derek Molina in the sixth inning and was removed from the game. Loftin, who hit for the cycle in a win Sunday, walked off the field and to the dugout under his own power.
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