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Starting pitcher undergoes Tommy John surgery, will red shirt 2013 season

By CAITIE SMITH
On February 7, 2013

Marshall baseball will be without a key link in its starting rotation when it officially begins its season next weekend.Lance Elder worked his way to becoming the starter for Sunday games in 2012 and was expected to hold his place as a weekend starter this year.Instead, Elder will spend his sophomore year as a redshirt while working on rehabilitating his pitching arm.“The injury I have is a partial tear in my UCL,” Elder said. “I went through Tommy John surgery. It’s a reconstruction surgery on my elbow.”The surgery was first performed in the ‘70s on major league pitcher Tommy John, which is where the name came from.Tommy John surgery is commonplace for baseball pitchers in both college and in the major leagues.Joey Church, a former Marshall pitcher, underwent the surgery during his time with the Herd. He is now pitching for the San Diego Padres organization.Elder said he learned a lot from Church’s experience.“I looked up to him last year when I was a freshman,” Elder said. “I talked to him the other day and I gained a lot of knowledge from him about the situation.”Recovery from Tommy John surgery is a lengthy process.Elder said the usual time frame for an arm to completely heal is 8-12 months.“I will start to lightly toss and work my arm about three months after surgery, depending on if there are any complications,” Elder said.Although Elder will be sidelined this year, he said he is optimistic.“I view it as a minor setback. I know once I start rehab and getting back to what I know how to do, then I’ll be even better than I was before the surgery,” Elder said. “I’m just going to use this extra time I have to better my grades and go to rehab everyday. That’s how I can help the team right now.”Head Coach Jeff Waggoner said he is relying on Lance to teach during his redshirt.“Anytime you lose a guy like Lance, it’s going to hurt the program,” Waggoner said. “It just means somebody else has to step up. Lance can help out in his ways of teaching and helping the younger guys who go through some of the struggles he faced last year. He’s a great team guy.”Elder said he understands his role this year.“I’m helping freshmen and giving advice to those who ask,” Elder said. “I know what they’re going through. If they need anything, they know I’m there for them.”Elder said his teammates have been supportive during his injury.“My teammates are a main reason why I am able to do what I’ve done. Even though I am not on the team right now, they still make me feel a part of it,” Elder said. “Baseball is a huge part of my life. Whenever they need me for any reason — if its doing video or running the radar gun during games — I’ll be there.”Elder said he is staying positive and making the most of the situation.Caitie Smith can be contacted at smith1650@marshall.edu. 

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