Oregon baseball infielder Scott Heineman will undergo labrum surgery in April after straining his left shoulder on a swing against Loyola Marymount on Feb. 23 and re-tweaking it on March 14 against USC.
The surgery will cost Heineman his junior season, but Oregon head coach George Horton said after Sunday’s 3-1 win over Utah that Heineman is a “slam dunk” to gain an extra year of eligibility after next season.
Heimeman has to appeal to college baseball in order to be granted a medical hardship waiver, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the junior because he fits all of the medical hardship’s criteria.
A player can’t appear in more than 30 percent of his team’s games and be granted the waiver, but Heineman has appeared in just eight (the Ducks are scheduled to play 60 games this season, so Heineman’s appearances will make up 13.3 percent of his team’s).
A player also can’t play past the midway point of his team’s season. Heineman’s last appearance came in Oregon’s 17th game, well before the halfway mark of the season.
Heineman could decide to enter the MLB draft after next season but whatever he decides, he should be eligible for an extra year of college baseball.
Heineman’s absence will obviously hurt the Ducks — Horton said he’ll be more missed on defense than on offense — but they’ve been fairly successful without him (10-4 record). Horton also noted the strong performance of his pitching staff without Cole Irvin, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery before the season.
“We can sit there and dwell on the fact that we could be better with Cole Irvin, but we don’t have Cole Irvin,” Horton said. “We don’t have Scott Heineman, so it’s other guys’ opportunities.”
Left fielder J.B. Bryant has been one of the players to benefit from Heineman’s absence and he’s performed well, hitting .321 with a .429 on-base percentage in 37 plate appearances. Horton also said Nick Catalano will get more opportunities as the season moves along.
Horton was adamant after Sunday’s game that his team can only move forward from Heineman’s injury. He’s sympathetic towards Heineman and Irvin but his focus is on Oregon’s remaining 48 games.
“My heart does go out to those two kids,” Horton said. “It’s unfortunate but it happens to every team around the country. It’ll test your depth a little bit and so far, it’s OK.”
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