Clemson catcher Chris Williams was supposed to miss four to six weeks after injuring his left hand during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Feb. 12, five days prior to the start of the season.
Well, a little more than two weeks later, Williams made a surprise appearance in Clemson’s game against Wofford on Tuesday.
Williams entered the contest as a defensive replacement at catcher in the ninth inning of the Tigers’ 9-2 win.
“It was good to get Chris Williams a little bit of action,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “He just had his stitches taken out of his hand, and I wanted to try to get him in there if at all possible. It was good to get him an inning of work and let him ease his way back into it.”
Williams told reporters after suffering the injury that he took an awkward swing during the scrimmage and felt a pop in his hand. He continued playing, felt another pop and then got X-rays, which initially came back negative.
Further testing thereafter, though, showed an injury that required surgery, which he underwent.
Lee said that Williams had stitches removed from his hand on Monday, and took about 150 swings in the batting cages Monday afternoon.
“That’s the kind of kid he is,” Lee said. “He’s just a tough kid, and he wants to try to work his way back in. He took batting practice today, caught an inning, so he was working very aggressively to try to get himself back ready to play.”
Williams hit .245 with eight home runs, 38 runs batted in and 34 runs scored in 2016.
The junior from Garden Grove, Calif., was set to replace Chris Okey as Clemson’s starting catcher. Instead, junior Robert Jolly has filled in and hit .500 (10-for-20) with 10 runs scored in Williams’ absence.
Lee has said that he is more concerned with Williams’ injury causing him issues at the plate rather than behind it. Therefore, Lee and the staff will continue to monitor how Williams feels while hitting.
“It’s going to really be just depending on how he feels,” Lee said. “This injury, it’s really one of those that it’s going to be based on how he feels and how we see him progress swing-wise. He has to wear a brace over his hand right now, a pad.”
So, the timetable for his full return to action moving forward is dependent upon his pain tolerance.
“What’s the timetable? I don’t know,” Lee said. “He can kind of go. It’s just a matter of what he’s able to do in terms of dealing with the pain of coming off that surgery to his hand.”