Weather hampering WC shortstop’s recovery

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 28, 2002

Joey Lieberman, scoops up the ball during a spring break tournament at Madison Central. Lieberman can still get to tough grounders, but he’s had trouble making the throw from short after offseason shoulder surgery, so he has moved to second.MARK THORNTON)

[03/28/02]Joey Lieberman is one Warren Central player who has to believe his senior season is cursed.

After undergoing surgery in August to repair torn ligaments in his shoulder, the standout shortstop is struggling through sharp pains from his right shoulder.

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There is nothing wrong with it, doctors say, but in an unseasonably cold spring, Lieberman has yet to get his throwing arm back to full strength.

It’s frustrating for him, because he can still make the plays with his sure hands and quick footwork, but his arm just hasn’t seemed to heal.

Coach Randy Broome moved the Meridian Community College signee to second base because of the shorter throw to first. In some games, he has been the designated hitter when the arm couldn’t take it.

“He’s down a little bit about not being able to play shortstop, but he can still play second,” Broome said. “I’m not disappointed with him or let down by him … he’s hitting .350 or something like that.

“I told him, there is no reason being down on yourself,’ because I’ve played hurt and it’s frustrating. But he can still play second base, run and hustle. It could be a lot worse.”

Swinging the bat, though, is certainly not the reason the usually affable Lieberman has at times seemed silent.

It doesn’t help matters that his father Billy, his biggest fan, opened a family business after last season.

The elder Lieberman, a fixture in his lawn chair on the third-base line for every game and practice last year, has made just a handful of games this season.

“He wants to be out here probably more than I do,” Joey Lieberman said. “For him not being able to come out and watch us is killing him and it hurts me to know there is nothing he can do about it.”

That pain goes away, unlike his shoulder.

It started with a deep throw from shortstop a year ago. He knew instantly something in the shoulder went. He tried ice and heat to loosen the muscles up only to find himself with two apple-sized scars on his shoulder from where the heating pad was not only turned on too high, but without a cover.

“It burned through the towel, then my shirt all the way to my arm,” said Lieberman, who wouldn’t take the heating pad off because some senior teammates told him to take the pain.

After the state championship run, Lieberman played summer ball before the surgery in August. Several trips back to specialists have shown nothing wrong with the shoulder.

“It’s real tight and it seems like every night we play it’s 40 degrees,” Broome said. “He had surgery and we’ve been telling him that it’s not going to feel like a dozen roses.”

Just before playing in a Louisiana tournament over spring break, Lieberman got a cortisone shot and said the shoulder felt great. Now, he uses anything he can get his hands on to get his shoulder loose.

“The weather is definitely not helping,” Lieberman said. “I also think that after my surgery, I came out throwing a little too early.”

Despite his injuries, Lieberman is third on the team with a .352 average, seven doubles and a pair of home runs in helping Warren Central to an 18-4 record.

An early signee with Meridian, Lieberman said he inked with the tradition-rich juco to get that part of his senior season out of the way. He will join former teammate Brent Towne at Meridian.

“I wanted to get it out of the way,” Lieberman said. “… Right now, I have to tough it out and get through the rest of the season. I’ll hopefully get it back to normal over the summer.”