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Tigers get one pitcher back, could have another

It appears Clemson is getting one pitcher back for this week’s Clemson Regional and maybe another as well.

Clemson head coach Monte Lee said prior to Tuesday’s practice that pitcher Brooks Crawford could be available out of the bullpen for the Tigers when they play No. 4 seed UNC Greensboro on Friday at 7 p.m., in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional. Vanderbilt, the No. 2 seed, will play No. 3 St. John’s at noon in Game 1.

Crawford threw an inning in Monday’s practice and Lee said the sophomore looked really good throwing the ball in that situation.

“He was 90-91 so his fastball velocity ticked up a little bit,” Lee said. “He actually picked it up a little bit.”

Crawford came in with runners on first and third and forced Seth Beer into a double play. The righty spent much of the last half of the season recovering from mononucleosis. He did throw an inning for the Tigers back on May 20 at NC State, but before that he had not been used since April 22.

Against the Wolfpack he had one walk, one strikeout in 15 pitches thrown. For the season Crawford has a team-best 1.44 ERA with a 4-0 record in 18.2 innings of work. He has 18 strikeouts to seven walks this year.

As for relief pitcher Ryan Miller, Lee says the junior could throw in a live bullpen on Wednesday or Thursday which will tell them if he will be available this weekend.

“It is really a day-by-day progression,” Lee said. “If he feels good and he has no pain and no soreness then we will progress to the next step. We are hoping to get a read on Ryan Miller and his availability. It may be Thursday before we know for sure. But we are hoping to know by Wednesday, but it could be Thursday before we know for sure if he could be available for the regional.”

Miller has not pitched since April 2 at Georgia Tech. Prior to his arm injury he was 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 11.2 innings of work. He has 11 strikeouts and two walks.

Williams’ injury status. Clemson catcher Chris Williams will not play for the Tigers as a position player his week. Lee did say Williams could be used as a designated hitter, though.

Since injuring his shoulder on May 7 in the second game of the Nevada series, Williams has seen his batting average drop from .296 to .270. He is 2 for his last 22 during that time. He made one appearance in last week’s ACC Tournament when he pinch hit in the loss to Duke.

Williams did try to throw in practice on Monday, but he did not throw in Tuesday’s practice.

“He can throw at a short distance but it is pretty sore,” Lee said. “There is a lack of range of motion and some discomfort when he throws. He can’t stretch his arm out. Right now, we are really just trying to get his range of motion back. It is hard to throw until you get range of motion all the way back because you can’t throw the baseball with any kind of arm speed.

“You basically have to stop your arm when you get the ball up above your shoulder. You have to stop your arm and then push the ball so right now he is having a hard time with range of motion in his arm so it is making it hard for him to be able to throw past a short distance.”

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