KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s win over Cincinnati was quickly subdued by the news that junior pitcher Kyle Serrano is likely lost to a season-ending elbow injury.
After visiting with doctors, Serrano learned that the ligament in his pitching elbow hass detached from the bone and will, according to Dave Serrano, likely require Tommy John surgery.
Dave Serrano said they will have it re-evaluated on Monday.
“It’s a part of life,” Dave Serrano said. “He’s handled it extremely well but he’s disappointed for his team.
“He’ll be back and he’ll be back in our uniform next year and be pitching for us.”
Serrano was dealing with irritation and inflammation in his right elbow after his start against Memphis on Feb. 20. Serrano skipped a start this past week and had the nagging injury looked at by doctors.
“It is a ligament but it’s not torn,” Dave Serrano said. “I know that for a fact. If he does have a surgery it will probably be Tommy John, but it’s not torn. It’s pulled away from the bone.”
Serrano’s injury alters the trajectory of Tennessee’s pitching staff going forward. Serrano was in line to be one of the Vols weekend starters coming off a sophomore season where he pitched in 22 games and made eight starts. He was 5-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched.
In his lone appearance this season against Memphis in the season-opening series, Serrano started and gave up five runs, one earned, in 3.2 innings while striking out three and walking four.
“We probably just lost 70-80 innings by losing him,” Dave Serrano said. “Someone like Daniel Vasquez and someone else that doesn’t even know yet are going to have to gobble up those innings and be effective.”
Vasquez, a freshman from El Cajon, Calif., made his first career start in the Vols 7-1 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday. The right hander threw five innings, giving up one run and striking out seven. He had previously made two relief appearances this season but had yet to throw a complete inning.
Junior Hunter Martin made a start during the Vols most recent weekend trip to play in the Grand Canyon University Classic. Martin threw four innings of shut out baseball in Tennessee’s 20-1 drubbing of Central Michigan. As a sophomore he was 1-3 in six starts. He has a total of six wins in 19 career starts.
Zach Warren and Andy Cox will likely be two of Tennessee’s weekend starters once conference play begins on March 18 against Ole Miss. Cox, a senior, has 19 career starts and Warren, a sophomore, made five starts as a freshman.