Sunday July 29, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- For almost a month, Chad Funkhouser sat on the Pittsfield Suns bench while his team kind of marched in place.

If the Suns complete their march to a Futures League playoff spot, the return of Funkhouser could be seen as a key moment.

"It's good to be back, after spending about two weeks [on the bench], it feels good to get back," said Funkhouser, after the Suns lost to Brockton on Tuesday at Wahconah Park. "No matter how the outcome is, it feels good to be back on the ballfield."

Funkhouser missed the first half of July with an elbow injury. He returned to the Pittsfield lineup against Martha's Vineyard on July 16. Since his return, the Suns have gone 8-4.

He is the team's leading hitter with a .343 batting average, and if he had enough at-bats, would be among the leading hitters in the Futures League.

In the last seven days, Funkhouser's batting average was .278, as he went 5 for 18. But in the last week, he has led the Suns with six runs scored. That's exactly what a player at the top of the batting order should do.

Funkhouser was day-to-day with tendinitis.

It's one thing to suffer an injury like this playing in a professional league with 80-to-120 games. It's another thing again when your team is only scheduled to play 44 regular season games. Three weeks can seem like a lifetime. The Suns' infielder was chomping at the bit, ready to return.

"I was just working hard. I knew I'd get my chance to come back in," he said. "As long as I'd work hard, I'd be able to come back and help my team any way I can."

The 6-foot, 190-pound infielder arrived in Pittsfield fresh off a season where he hit .346 and had a .425 on-base percentage for Brevard. That performance earned him freshman of the year in the South Atlantic Conference. He was also named a second-team All-SAC pick at second base.

Funkhouser was expected to switch between second and shortstop with the Suns, but the sore elbow has limited Funkhouser to second base.