Posted: Feb 10, 2013 7:48 PM by Eric Blumberg
Updated: Feb 10, 2013 11:32 PM
COLUMBIA - When Eric Anderson first found out he needed surgery on his elbow at the end of last season, he thought his career might be done. He didn't know much about it, but the more he learned the more it became apparent he might be able to come back without missing a game.
Last spring, Missouri baseball celebrated a Big 12 tournament championship, but Eric Anderson had to watch it on T.V.
"That was honestly the toughest part of last year. When that happened I see them all running up and down. My dad's like sit down, you're in a sling, and then it kind of hit me--dang, this sucks," Anderson said.
Just weeks earlier, Anderson had Tommy John elbow surgery--his second major surgery in his college career.
"Not what I planned. Honestly, it's been a roller coaster. Up and down, up and down," Anderson said.
"His story is a unique one. You don't usually have guys that come back from two major arm surgeries while they are in college," said Missouri pitching coach Matt Hobbs.
After shoulder surgery as a Freshman, Anderson turned into one of the elite talents in the Big 12. As a Sophomore, he made Team USA and scouts expected big things from him as a junior.
"I think Eric's been proving people wrong his whole career here. As soon as you have one surgery no one thinks you're going to come back as good and he comes back as one of the best starters in the Big 12," Hobbs said.
"Week four last season, finally starting to feel healthy, getting velocity back and my elbow goes. That was kind of demoralizing. I was feeling like pitching was failing me. I've tried and I've tried. Just kind of that mindset where I don't know if it's meant to be," Anderson said.
After rehab failed to fix the problem, Anderson chose surgery again--this time on his elbow.
"I learned a long time ago never to count him out of anything. The first thing he told me after it was all said and done and he knew he was going to have the surgery was I'm going to come back and I'm going to be better," said Hobbs.
"I feel better than ever. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me honestly," said Anderson.
The scouts that used to watch his every pitch are probably only giving him minimal atttention this season.
"He's not a kid that needs a whole lot of motivation anyway. He's a very self motivated person, but he sent me a text last year as soon as that thing was over saying I'm going to be back and I'm going to be better than ever," said Hobbs.
"I hope that I'm kind of off the board right now. I hope that no one is interested. I use that as fuel," said Anderson.
Fuel to help Mizzou have another dog pile this season, and Anderson plans to be a part of it.
"Hopefully on the bottom, cause that means I threw the last pitch," said Anderson.
Anderson says he's willing to work as either a starter or in relief, but Coach Hobbs says the plan is for him to be a starter because that's what he's always done.
They say they won't rush him, but there's no reason he shouldn't be ready for the start of the season.