UF starting pitcher sidelined


Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:17 p.m.

Only two days before of the start of its season, the Florida baseball team absorbed a potentially significant loss Wednesday with the announcement that No. 2 starting pitcher Karsten Whitson has been sidelined indefinitely with a sore throwing shoulder.

“Karsten has been battling continued shoulder fatigue,” UF head baseball athletic trainer Pat Hassell said. “We have pursued a conservative plan to treat the issue. Karsten is evaluating further options at this time that will allow for a healthy and productive return to baseball.”

There are reports that Whitson was expected to be examined Wednesday by renowned sports orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Florida baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan said there is no timetable for Whitson’s return. Whitson also missed most of the first month of the 2012 season with elbow issues.

“Not yet,” O’Sullivan said. “You know as much as I do. Everything is still kind of up in the air right now.

“He’s disappointed. I think anybody in his shoes would be a little disappointed. But we’re staying optimistic.”

With Whitson out, O’Sullivan said true freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson moves up to the No. 2 starter’s slot behind No. 1 pitcher Jonathon Crawford and starting outfielder Justin Shafer will be the Sunday starter this weekend against Duke.

“Crawford, Tucker Simpson and Shafer, in that order,” O’Sullivan said. “We knew there was a possibility (Whitson) might not pitch the first two weekends. We were kind of prepared for this. It hasn’t changed a whole lot in regards to this weekend.”

In his senior season at Oxford (Ala.) High, the 6-foot-6 Simpson was 9-3 with a 1.89 earned run average and recorded 149 strikeouts in 83 innings.

“He’s throwing strikes,” O’Sullivan said of Simpson. “He’s had a great fall and a really good spring.

“The young pitchers have been throwing the ball very well. Obviously, this is going to be a different deal when the lights go on Friday. I’m anxious to get a lot of those young guys out there. They certainly have enough talent.”

Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue said he’s confident UF’s young staff can overcome the loss of Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft who turned down a $2.1 million offer from San Diego to play for the Gators.

“Karsten Whitson is an awesome pitcher,” Gushue said. “Our young guys are definitely going to have to step up this year. That’s all. I’m not worried about it.

“Karsten obviously has a lot of talent, but I think our team is good enough to handle it and take it in stride, and we’ll just go from there.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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