With Friday’s start to the season, the Indianapolis Indians are focused on winning their third straight International League West Division title.
In his fourth season in an Indians uniform, 28-year-old infielder Matt Hague has become a face for the organization. While most minor leaguers leave their team’s base at season’s end, Hague has made the Circle City his home.
“I love Indianapolis,” Hague said. “It’s the perfect fit for me as far as the atmosphere, it’s nice and clean, and the people are friendly. Coming from Seattle, you can tell the difference. It’s just more welcoming here.”
Hague grew up in Seattle and played at the University of Washington for three years. In 2007, he was drafted in the 11th round by Cleveland, but didn’t sign. He decided to transfer to Clemson, but a conflict arose.
“I was doing well and having a great time playing in the Cape Cod League, so I told them, ‘No, I don’t think I want to go back to school right now,’” Hague said. “So, I looked at Oklahoma State, and it was the perfect fit.”
After Hague’s senior season ended with an NCAA regional loss to Wichita State, he was drafted by Pittsburgh in the ninth round. That led to Class A stops in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia.
Like most players, Hague felt the physical difference between college and the pros.
“The biggest thing is getting used to playing every day,” Hague said. “You’re not going to be 100 percent all the time, and the days you don’t feel your best, you have to fight through it.”
Hague bumped to Double-A Altoona in 2010, where he batted .295 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI. He made the Triple-A jump to Indy the next season, and led the IL with 165 hits on his way to mid- and post-season All-Star and team MVP honors.