In the past two seasons, Manteno alumni Easton Bertrand has made his presence felt within the Big Ten. The University of Minnesota outfielder already has accomplished so much in a little more than two years at Siebert Field.
After being a part of the Gophers’ Big Ten championship run in 2018 as a freshman, Bertrand followed it up by playing in a career-high 53 games, including 44 starts during his sophomore campaign.
He finished the year slashing .252/.327/.490 with six dingers, nine doubles, 25 RBIs and 32 runs scored, helping him earn a nomination for the University of Minnesota’s Golden Goldy Men’s Breakthrough Athlete of the Year award.
However, things quickly took a turn for the worse when Bertrand was injured last summer, which forced him to undergo surgery on his right hand last summer. He went on to rehab for the next three months before fully recovering in October.
“Rehab was good but pretty slow” Bertrand said. “I was working from the ground up and that sort of thing, and it went well overall.”
Bertrand looked better than ever during this year’s shortened season. It was as though he didn’t miss a beat. He played in 15 of 18 possible games, starting in 10 of them. Bertrand was on pace to set a new career high in home runs and batting average as he finished this year hitting .302/.400/.605 with four home runs.
Based on how his junior season was going, it’s no surprise Bertrand always will think of what could have been.
“Everyone’s going to have the ‘what if’ now,” Bertrand said. “What if we were going to be Big Ten champions? … All the what ifs.”
Since the season got canceled in mid-March, Bertrand has been putting his focus toward other things. Along with picking up a part-time job, the Business Marketing major also has been taking on some summer classes to get ahead.
Bertrand also said he realizes he has to stay in shape in order to be better for next season, so he has been working closely with his strength coach’s workout program.
“I’ve been training with anything I can do to get myself better each day,” Bertrand said. “I do a lot of running; our strength coach has been able to send us a body weight circuit, so I’ve been sticking to that as close as I can.”
Being at home for this extended period of time in quarantine has made the junior realize how much how misses being a part of a tight locker room.
“My favorite moment of my career has just been the chatter and locker room stuff — being with the guys,” Bertrand said. “There’s just no better feeling than going out there with them every time.
“I think every athlete can agree with COVID-19 happening, you realize what you have, and it’s just something really special.”