Nick Franklin missed eight games with a sprained right thumb, but during that time off, he could only think about gripping and swinging a bat.
"It definitely was frustrating," he said. "You can't hit without your thumb, obviously. So all I was doing was itching to get back in the game as soon as I could."
After his return to the Double-A Jackson Generals' lineup on Friday night, the thumb appears to have healed just fine.
The Mariners' No. 3 prospect went 4-for-4 with two triples, a double, two RBIs and three runs scored in the Generals' 13-5 romp over the Mobile BayBears.
Both the hits and runs totals represented season highs for the switch-hitting shortstop, who raised his average 24 points to .342. He ranks second in the Southern League in batting.
"I had a few days off because of the thumb, so I said to myself, 'I'm just going to try to square up every ball and try to make good contact,'" Franklin said. "You can only do so much after something like that, so I wasn't looking to do too much."
Franklin drew a four-pitch walk in his first plate appearance before doubling in the fourth inning. He tripled in the fifth and sixth -- highlighting a six-run fifth with a two-run drive -- and singled in the seventh.
MLB.com's No. 47 overall prospect finished a homer short of the cycle.
Selected by the Mariners with the 27th overall pick in the 2009 Draft, the 21-year-old shortstop had hits in seven of his last 14 at-bats and was batting .385 over nine games in May before missing time from May 10-17.
Franklin sat out nearly two months of action in the middle of the 2011 season after suffering from a concussion and a foodborne illness. He went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored in his first game back from that long layoff.
The Florida native noted that maintaining his health would be tantamount to a successful 2012 campaign and that he hopes this latest ailment is only a small bump on his road through the Minors.
"Obviously, at the beginning of every season, you try to stay healthy," Franklin said. "You don't want to be kept off the field. But when I am out there, I'm trying to play as hard as possible and my biggest goal is to always have fun."
Eric Campbell went 3-for-4 with a triple, two doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored for the Generals. Steven Proscia was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in the six-run fifth.
By posting season highs in runs and hits (17), Jackson also grabbed the best record in the Southern League at 25-17.