Shoulder Injury Shelves Bittle

Mississippi righthander Scott Bittle’s college career is probably over, and his draft future is in doubt after he was diagnosed with a strained shoulder capsule this week.

"He can throw, but when he gets cranked up, he gets to a certain point where there’s pain," Ole Miss assistant coach Rob Reinstetle said. "We had one MRI and couldn’t find out what the problem was, but then Dr. (James) Andrews examined him personally and had a second MRI."

Reinstetle said Bittle had yet to decide whether or not to have surgery or if he would try to rehabilitate the shoulder without surgery. He also said Bittle could try to throw once more and see if he can grit his way through regionals. Bittle declined comment.

Bittle was the Yankees’ second-round pick last year but didn’t sign after the Yankees’ doctors wouldn’t clear him medically. While he had several exams by other physicians, including Dr. James Andrews, that cleared him, the Yankees stuck to their evaluation, and he returned to Ole Miss for his senior season.

After leading the Southeastern Conference in strikeouts as a junior with 130, Bittle had worked as both a reliever and later as a starter for the Rebels this spring. He was 5-2, 2.17 overall with 68 strikeouts in 45.2 innings, relying primarily on an 84-86 mph cut fastball that ranks among the best pitches in the country at the amateur level.

It’s unlikely that Bittle will be drafted high now that teams have confirmation of the shoulder trouble that scared the Yankees off last spring. Bittle is already 22, turns 23 in August and probably won’t pitch again this year even in pro ball. The injury pushes him out of BA’s Top 200 draft prospects, and also significantly hurts Mississippi’s hopes of going to the College World Series, robbing them of the nation’s best Sunday starter.

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