Surgery Fails to Stop UT Pitcher

Standing at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, with a fastball that tops out in the mid 80s, Scott Chapman is anything but intimidating. Chapman is not overpowering by any means, yet he was one of the most successful pitchers in Tampa’s series against second-ranked Georgia College and State University last weekend.

Chapman confused one of the nation’s best offensive teams with an assortment of breaking balls, changeups and off speed pitches that left Bobcat hitters baffled.

Pretty impressive considering that Chapman couldn’t even throw a baseball just a year and a half ago.

In June 2005 Chapman underwent Tommy John surgery, a procedure named after the former professional pitcher who was the first player to undergo the now-common surgery.

It was a long road back to recovery for Chapman, who pitched at Florida Community College-Jacksonville before attending Tampa.

“It was very hard,” said Chapman of his rehabilitation program. “There were so many hours in the gym, lifting weights, running and staying with a throwing program that only allowed me to throw a certain amount of pitches each day.”

Chapman said his passion for the game kept him motivated during his long and slow rehabilitation.

“I love the game, and I always knew this was not how it was going end,” said Chapman.

Chapman is just one of the many pitchers who have come back from Tommy John surgery to have similar or better results than before they underwent surgery. Closers John Smoltz and Mariano Rivera are just two major leaguers who have recovered from the operation.

Before pitching in his first game at UT Chapman was one of the top pitchers in last year’s Florida Collegiate Summer League, earning himself a spot in the league’s All Star Game. He finished the season with a 5-1 record, 2.80 ERA and pitched in a team-high 45 innings, proving he was a quick healer.

Despite the possibly career-ending surgery, Chapman said he has not had to change the way he pitched after coming back from the injury.

“I think I’m almost back to 100 percent now,” Chapman said. “I used to hit about 87 on the gun. Now I’m more around 84-85, but I didn’t have to change the way I pitched. I’ve always thrown an equal amount of fastballs, sliders and changes, and that’s what I did against Georgia College.”

It was almost fitting that in the first pitch of his UT career, Chapman gave up a home run. Like he had done before, though, Chapman battled back through adversity and was able to shut down the Bobcats over the next five and 1/3 innings, allowing just two earned runs.

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous but more anxious to get out on the mound and get back to what I was missing,” said Chapman. “I never really thought too much about the home run.”

Although Chapman did not begin the season as a starter, he said he wasn’t surprised that he got a chance to pitch against one of the best teams in Division II baseball.

“I was hoping to start, but coach said we are set from top to bottom in the rotation,” Chapman said. “I’m just going to pitch in whatever role I’m given and try and help the team.”

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