South Carolina coach Ray Tanner had a bad feeling something might be wrong with bullpen ace Curtis Johnson after the senior righthander served up a game-winning two-run double to Furman’s Bobby Hubbard on Tuesday.
"I don’t think he feels good," Tanner told GamecockCentral.com after Furman’s 4-2 win on Tuesday. "He was a little tender before so we rested him. He told us over the weekend he was ready to go. I was hoping he was a little rusty, but I’m concerned that he’s not feeling well. His velocity was down.
"But he’s a competitor and he didn’t say much. We certainly have to address that situation. If he’s not hurt, he’s going back out there. But we have to make sure he’s not hurt. It doesn’t look right to me. I’ve seen him pitch a lot. The ball wasn’t coming out very good."
Turns out, Tanner’s gut was right. An MRI after the game revealed that Johnson had a torn labrum and rotator cuff, ending his season. Johnson, who was 1-0, 1.83 with 17 strikeouts and six walks through 20 innings, will apply for a medical redshirt and return for 2009. He went 1-3, 3.38 with three saves in 43 innings last year after transferring from Florence Darlington (S.C.) Tech Community College, and he had emerged as the most reliable arm in South Carolina’s bullpen in 2007. In his absence, Brandon Todd and Craig Thomas figure to be counted on to anchor the bullpen.
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