After being pulled from Auburn's season opener against Georgia Southern with an apparent forearm injury, junior righty Davis Daniel is set to undergo Tommy John surgery this week, head coach Butch Thompson told reporters Monday. Rivals and 247Sports were the first to report the news earlier in the day.
A product of St. James in Montgomery, Daniel was projected as a weekend starter for the Tigers this season. Since the injury, Daniel had been dealing with forearm tightness. Last month, Thompson said Daniel, the team and doctors were all happy with Daniel's progress.
However, a medical ruling deemed it necessary Daniel undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, commonly referred to as Tommy John, a surgery in which a healthy tendon from elsewhere in the body is used to replace a torn ligament in the arm. The surgery is to be performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida, on Thursday, Thompson told reporters.
"We'd been working from Opening Day till last week trying to get him restored, repaired and back active to help our team here down the stretch," Thompson said. "We feel like we're back to square one once we got throwing back on the mound. So, we've basically declared the season for Davis."
Thompson said Daniel felt confident in a return to the mound in practice a few weeks ago. After he threw "12 to 13" pitches, Daniel began to feel the pain again in his arm.
"He was really emotional and devastated," Thompson said.
Given the delicate nature of the surgery's rehabbing process, Daniel is sure to miss the rest of the 2019 season and possibly the 2020 season, as well.
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"Davis has such an amazing future as a pitcher," Thompson said. "His work ethic is unbelievable. I think he'll be better than he's ever been... I think we've made every correct decision to this point with him."
Drafted in the 11th round last year by the Milwaukee Brewers organization, Daniel began the 2018 season as a starter before being moved to the bullpen, finishing the season with a 3-4 record and 4.86 ERA, including a 3.70 ERA as a reliever.
His most notable performance came in the Gainesville Super Regional finals against top-seeded Florida. In the decisive Game 3, he allowed just one hit over 5.1 scoreless inning while fanning six batters in Auburn's extra-innings loss.
"He has a such a bright future in the game of baseball that I think this is the right decision in this point in time," Thompson said.
After a series win over No. 17 Ole Miss over the weekend with a starting rotation of freshman Garrett Wade, sophomore Tanner Burns and freshman Brooks Fuller, Auburn hopes sophomore southpaw Jack Owen can return for next weekend's series at No. 5 Vanderbilt. Owen returned from his shoulder injury against Ole Miss, pitching 2.1 scoreless frames in Game 3.
Game 1 against the Commodores is set for 6:30 p.m. CST in Nashville.
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