Any Harvard baseball fans sitting in English 178x at 11 a.m. on Monday morning saw both a beautiful and horrible sight.
When Zak Farkes walked into his first class of the semester, he officially terminated all chances of signing with the Boston Red Sox—who drafted him in the 39th round of the Amateur Baseball Draft this June—and returned to Harvard for his junior season. The team’s All-Ivy infielder and career home run king was back.
But his right arm was in a sling.
After a summer playing in the Cape Cod League and deliberating his future, Farkes elected to return to Harvard and undergo a long-postponed surgery on a frayed right labrum that will keep him out of fall practices.
“It’s been a little banged up, so once I decided to come back to school, I decided to go ahead and have the surgery,” Farkes said. “But right now, I have a great chance of being 100 percent for the season.”
According to Harvard coach Joe Walsh, some labrum surgeries can require up to a full year to heal, but he is optimistic about Farkes returning at full force by March.
“Right now his doctor says he’s going to be back. A lot of it depends on what kind of tear’s in there,” Walsh said, adding that Farkes’ injury seemed relatively less serious than others.
The surgery required only dissolvable sutures, and not staples, to be inserted into the shoulder.
Walsh also expressed his confidence in Farkes’ near legendary discipline and work ethic—last year Walsh said Farkes was the only player he can never beat to the diamond—as something that will aide in his recovery.
“If anyone is going to come back from a surgery like that, something that requires a lot of rehab, it’s Zak,” Walsh said.
Having a healthy Farkes for only half the year—and the half that matters—is more than it looked like the Crimson would get several months ago.
Farkes was selected far lower in the draft than anticipated following a sophomore season in which he batted .342 with a league-leading 14 home runs, most likely due to the questions about signability that inevitably surround a draft-eligible Harvard sophomore. But the Boston native was thrilled to be taken by his hometown team, and negotiation talks quickly heated up.
“[The talks] were really serious,” Farkes said. “The chance to get drafted by your hometown team is amazing, and the chance it’ll happen again is next to nothing.”
Farkes admitted the decision was tough, but in the end moving a year closer to a Harvard degree—and getting another shot at an Ivy title—won out.
Farkes’ sore shoulder, which had been bothering him throughout his Harvard career, played only a minor role in his decision. The comparatively longer off-season in collegiate baseball gives Farkes the opportunity to undergo extensive rehab without missing a game, something a minor leaguer cannot do.