Detroit News – Ako Thomas, during the series opener against Indiana in mid-April, was down 0-1 in the count when he swung right through a fastball.
Tests showed a broken hamate bone in the hand, and surgery was required — figuring to end the season of the Big Ten’s leading hitter.
And it would’ve, too, had it not been for some unique collaboration between Michigan’s training staff and its mechanical engineering department.
While doing some rehab, Thomas ordered some batting gloves with a little extra padding in the palm, but it wasn’t nearly enough. That’s where Ellen Arruda, a 25-year member of the Michigan staff, came into play, to custom design a batting glove that would lessen the impact when Thomas swung the bat — and absorb the blow of balls on defense, too.
Without the new glove, Thomas’ season would’ve been shot.
Arruda is a key player in the Exercise and Sport Science Initiative, launched last year to partner between the athletics department and the research wing of the university. Arruda, a professor of mechanical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering is one of about 100 staff members involved in the project.