Pitcher to Miss 2020 Baseball Season

After Injury, Keegan Oliver Will Not Play in Upcoming Season

Senior pitcher, Keegan Oliver, focuses on taking signs from his catcher for the next pitch. Oliver will be missing the upcoming 2020 baseball season after tearing his UCL in the summer of 2019.

Photo by Bill Lenz

Senior pitcher, Keegan Oliver, focuses on taking signs from his catcher for the next pitch. Oliver will be missing the upcoming 2020 baseball season after tearing his UCL in the summer of 2019.

Zachary Gray, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Bridgewater senior Keegan Oliver will miss the upcoming 2020 baseball season here at Bridgewater College. This is due to a torn UCL injury that occurred over the summer of 2019. Oliver began his baseball career at Bridgewater during his junior year in 2019, where his primary position was pitcher, while having a secondary position in the outfield. 

During his junior season, his playing time was limited to five games on the mound. 

After Bridgewater’s baseball season came to an end, Oliver began playing in a summer league where he saw a lot more playing time. Oliver’s injury took place during a summer league game when he was not supposed to pitch, but with the game on the line, his coach made the decision to put him in. “After the first three pitches, I realized my elbow was on fire,” Oliver said after being put in the game. 

After a trip to the doctor, he discovered that the feeling was due to a torn UCL. Oliver underwent Tommy John surgery on Jul. 27, 2019.  Tommy John surgery is when a healthy tendon in the arm or leg is used to replace a damaged one. 

According to Cut 4 by MLB.com, Thomas Edwards John Jr. was a pitcher during the late 60s and early 70s. He averaged 177 innings a year and during his 1974 season, he felt a weird sensation in his elbow. A doctor diagnosed him with “Overuse Syndrome” and suggested he ice his arm and let it rest. When he began pitching again, the pain was still there and he decided he was going to need surgery. Dr. Jobe, who performed the surgery, believed he’d be repairing John’s UCL, but when beginning the surgery, Lobe saw that John’s UCL was completely gone. Jobe got creative and used a ligament from John’s hand as a substitute for his UCL. Since John was the first person ever to undergo this surgery and recover from it, the surgery was named after him.  

Recovery from Tommy John surgery can range anywhere from 10-16 months, depending on how serious the injury is. Oliver says his recovery is going well and that physical therapy seems to be helping him tremendously. 

This is not the first time Oliver has had an injury in his baseball career. During his sophomore year in high school, he had the same injury. However, it was not as serious and did not require surgery.   

Oliver said his biggest struggle during his rehab process is not being able to fully participate with his teammates. “Watching MLB players suffer injuries and missing playing time is different than when it happens to yourself. It didn’t hit me until a week or two after I had my cast on that I would be missing the upcoming baseball season.”

Oliver said at times that it is emotional because he is missing a sport he loves.  It is also frustrating to see teammates progressing and becoming better athletes, while he is training just to get to the point where he can begin practicing. 

Oliver believes that “even with all of this going on, you must have a good mind set, you have to have perseverance. If you don’t stay positive you’ll never come back 100%.”

This is not the end of Oliver’s college baseball career, as he is deciding to return next year as a fifth year senior. This will allow Oliver to  complete his studies and return to the baseball diamond. He is majoring in biology with a minor in psychology.