Strider hopes to have Tommy John Surgery next week
Monte Lee was hoping Spencer Strider was going to be a weekend pitcher for 14th-ranked Clemson this coming season. Instead, the righty will not be available at all.
Prior to Clemson’s first practice of the season last Friday, Strider felt something pop in his right arm while warming up. The MRI revealed what the sophomore and his coaches feared, he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm and is done for the season.
“My first intuition was it was probably my UCL from just what I have heard, and the MRI confirmed it,” the sophomore said on Friday. “It is going to be good for some of the young guys to step up and help the team in certain ways. You have to brace the adversity.”
Strider is hoping to have Tommy John Surgery this coming week, so he can begin the process of getting back by this time next season. Unfortunately for pitchers, this type of injury takes at least 12 months to recover.
“It is adversity. It can come at any time,” he said. “You never know what is going to happen. It is one of those things that is really out of control. You try to fit yourself in the best position possible to avoid injuries, but it is something you can’t control. It is tough.”
The right-hander says he will lean on the support of his teammates during this tough time. Freshman Carter Raffield, who Lee said on Thursday was also done for the season, suffered his injury in the fall and it too turned out to be his UCL.
Strider said Raffield is about eight weeks into his rehab.
“He and I will be hanging out and we will be buddies,” Strider said. “Everybody says it is a long recovery. It is ten to twelve months just about. It is not like an ACL where you can come back in four months if your rehab goes well. It is very process oriented.”
Last year, Strider was one of the Tigers’ best pitchers to close the year. The righty developed as the year went along and finished the season with 70 strikeouts. He had a 5-2 record in 22 appearances, including six starts.
Strider pitched 51 innings overall with a 4.76 ERA. Opponents had a .215 batting average on him and drew 35 walks.
“It takes some mental toughness,” Lee said about Strider’s recovery. “Anytime you are dealing with an injury, whether it is a pitcher or a position player, it just puts you in another category because you are not involved in the day in and day out routine of all the other players that are healthy and able to practice and perform. That is the toughest thing.
“Once you are injured, you’re going through a totally different protocol. Now you are on to rehab. You have to be mentally tough because a lot of what you are doing is on you. It is in the training room. It is one-on-one. It is baby steps. It takes mental toughness to deal with that.”
Lee said Strider is a mentally tough young man and he thinks he is going to grow from this experience.
“He will be better having gone through it,” the Clemson coach said.
Clemson will open the 2019 season on Feb. 15 against South Alabama in the first of a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
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