College Baseball: Shive recovering from Tommy John surgery
By Mike London
CHARLOTTE — The elbow reconstruction surgery known as “Tommy John” is nearly 40 years old.
The success rate is high, with celebrity patients such as Stephen Strasburg and Tim Hudson throwing harder than ever after a period of rehab.
Still, when someone deals with the reality of “TJ” surgery, there’s nothing routine about it. For a guy who loves to pitch baseballs, you’re subtracting a year from his life.
East Rowan grad Corbin Shive is one of those guys.
An outstanding student who is a regular on the Chancellor’s List at Charlotte, Shive will graduate on time in May with an accounting degree.
But he won’t be on the baseball field for the 49ers this spring. He had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow two weeks ago.
“We haven’t completely ruled it out,” Shive said. “But realistically, I’ll miss the 2013 season. The toughest part of that is I won’t be able to go out with the guys I came in with.”
The long-term plan is for Shive to start graduate school in Charlotte’s Master of Accountancy program during the 2013-14 school year and return to the baseball program for the 2014 season.
In high school, Shive won 19 games, 11 of them in 2008 when East was 3A runner-up. He was All-State as a junior.
Even with senior-year arm issues, Shive finished with a 19-6 career record with 149 strikeouts. He also hit seven homers and drove in 45 runs.
Two-way players are rare in D-I, but East’s Spencer Steedley was talented enough do it for the 49ers a few years ago, and Shive also has performed a dual role for coach Loren Hibbs. He’s the only two-way athlete on the roster.
In high school, Shive was seen as a pitcher who could hit.
But in college, he’s been viewed at as a hitter who can pitch. Ever since Shive homered in Arizona in the NCAA Regional as a sophomore, the 49ers have relied more on his bat as a first baseman/DH than his mound skills.
“I really do love hitting, but I still think of pitching as my thing,” Shive said. “I’ve always loved being on the mound, and I miss it when I’m not.”
Shive smacked seven homers for the 49ers as a junior. Not earthshaking, but the most by anyone in the program in the two seasons since the bat rules were changed.
In a game against St. Joseph’s, Shive belted two homers. He led the 49ers in walks while batting .309 with 27 RBIs, so he was a very valuable offensive player.
“I had a pretty good season,” Shive said. “I had a rough start and struggled right at the end, but I hit about.340 between those two stretches.”
Shive had either a hit or a walk in Charlotte’s last 37 games, an impressive streak that will be on hold until 2014.
He also was effective as a pitcher. In 10 mound appearances, his ERA was 2.08. He issued more walks than he wanted to, but his stuff was good. Opposing hitters were 3-for-27 against him.
Shive didn’t pitch the last month of Charlotte’s season due to an oblique strain, but he was excited about hurling for the Asheboro Copperheads in the wood bat Coastal Plain League this summer.
“It had been about two months since I’d pitched, but I was thinking this was going to be my chance to pitch more,” Shive said. “I was excited.”
Shive got off to a sensational start. In five outings for Asheboro, he had two saves and hitters were just 1-for-18 against him, but then his elbow tightened.
“I was throwing my warmups before an inning, and my arm kinda grabbed on me,” Shive said. “It didn’t pop, but then I couldn’t throw at all. Not long after that, I couldn’t even bend my arm.”
Doctor visits and MRIs followed, with a partial tear of the UCL ligament the diagnosis. Shive was determined to pitch again, so Tommy John surgery came next.
The surgery went as well as he could have hoped.
“My arm is in a sling, but I should have full range of motion in about six weeks and can start tossing a baseball in four months,” Shive said.
Assuming a full recovery, at 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, Shive is a potential draft pick.
Yes, he’s losing some time, but he’s still awfully young to be starting his senior year of college. He won’t turn 21 until October.
“I was always the young buy, but I’ll be kind of the old man of the team when I come back,” Shive said. “I’ve got a long process in front of me, but I’ll put in the work and I’ll be ready.”
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