Back in action

CLEMSON - Kevin Brady emerged as the ace of the Clemson pitching staff with a hot start in 2011.

But, less than a month into the season, he was sidelined with forearm tightness. Brady returned later in the year, but worked only seven innings, all in relief appearances. He finished with a 2-0 record and posted a 3.86 ERA in 23 1/3 innings with 33 strikeouts and just one walk.

"It was unfortunate that I got injured," he said. "But it could be the best thing for me. It'll just give me another year to mature. I'm glad I'll be back for another year."

Tiger pitching coach Dan Pepicelli said Brady's been strong as he continues to bounce back from the strained forearm.

"He's really done a very good job of working to come back from the forearm strain last year," Pepicelli said. "He had a good fall with us. Really happy with the progress he made and the time he put in. He worked very hard in the weight room, really just brought himself back."

A 17th round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians last summer, Baseball America currently ranks Brady the No. 41 prospect in the nation for the 2012 draft in the preseason and the No. 39 junior in the nation.

"When he was good last year for us, he was really good," said Clemson head coach Jack Leggett. "We've got to keep him healthy, and it's important he has a great year for us -- he just relaxes and comes out here and plays. He's very focused. He's in great shape. He's healthy. I'm excited about what he is going to lend to our team."

This spring, Brady plans to stick to the three-pitch repertoire of a fastball, curveball and change-up. During fall workouts with Pepicelli, Brady focused on better developing his breaking pitch.

"I think the first thing we had to do was getting him back comfortable to where he was wanting to throw [the breaking ball], then we could make progress with it," Pepicelli said. "I do feel like it's progressing. I know he's real excited about it.

"If it's something they're excited about throwing, they're probably going to be a little bit better with it than if they're a little hesitant. He's excited. He wants to use that pitch a little more. I like it. I think it's sharp. I think he's ready to use it."

And Brady is certainly ready to step on the mound when Clemson opens the season at 4 p.m. on Friday against UAB.

"I just go out there when I'm told to pitch and give everything I've got. I go out there, sell myself out, not leave anything on the field when I walk off that mound at the end of the day," Brady said.

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