Now Healthy, Panteliodis Getting Comfortable

Alex Panteliodis realized there was an issue with his hip before the 2010 season even started. It wasn't pain at first, just some discomfort that he thought he could fight through. As the pain increased, so did his effectiveness. The left-hander won 11 games last year, but the hip injury got worse as the season went on, requiring surgery in the offseason.

There were questions about what caused the injury, but Panteliodis says it was nothing of his doing. Doctors found a bump growing on the bone, and whenever he rotated his hip, it frayed the labrum a little more each time.

"I had some days where I couldn't walk," Panteliodis said. "It just hurt me to walk. I had some cortisone shots and toradol shots. Then it was just about muscling up and going out there. As long as I kept it moving, it felt better."

As the season went on, the pain intensified. Instead of seeing his performance dipped, it seemed like Panteliodis got better. He jumped into the weekend rotation during the third weekend series at Miami.

Panteliodis didn't waste time locking down a spot in the rotation for the rest of the year. He went 5.2 innings that night, giving up two hits, one run and striking out eight. It was his third win of the early season after throwing out of the bullpen earlier in the year.

He ended his sophomore season with an 11-3 record and a 3.51 ERA. Panteliodis was the ace of the team, and it was no more evident than game one of the Gainesville Super Regional. After Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal warned the Gators that a hot Miami offense was coming to town, Panteliodis threw a complete game where he gave up two runs and struck out 12 batters, a career high.

With the hip bugging him all season, even Panteliodis was a little surprised at his success.

"I don't know how that happened," Panteliodis said with a laugh. "The team helped me out. It wasn't all me out there. They were behind me the whole time and that helped me be calm. I just made guys put it in play."

The surgery kept him on crutches without being able to put any weight on the leg for six weeks. When those six weeks passed, he still wasn't allowed to put much weight on the leg.

He found a way to improve while sitting down.

"During the whole rehab, I couldn't stand or throw," Panteliodis said. "I just sat on a bucket and worked on my off-speed stuff. That's what I'd do for the whole rehab. The off-speed is what I needed to improve on after last year where I was mostly throwing fastballs."

When Panteliodis was allowed to put weight on it and throw, there was one last hurdle to climb before he was back. That came in his first appearance in a scrimmage this spring. The junior hadn't faced hitters live since his final start of 2010, which came in the opening game at the College World Series.

He only went two innings, with the first one being shaky, but the focus wasn't on his performance. It was more about getting him on the mound again and comfortable facing hitters. Since that appearance on January 29, Panteliodis has gotten better each time on the mound.

"I was a little jittery," Panteliodis said of the first time facing hitters this spring. "I didn't know what was going to happen, but after I got through the first inning, I settled in and it felt like normal again."

His performance has also caught the eye of the head coach. It's not that Kevin O'Sullivan was surprised to see Panteliodis throwing the so well, especially after he watched his win eleven games as a sophomore.

O'Sullivan was happy that the left-hander is back on schedule to be ready by opening day.

"He has thrown really well," O'Sullivan said. "He has always been a strike thrower. If he has had any hesitation, it hasn't looked like it. It's looked like he picked up right where he left off."

The task now is simple. Panteliodis has to earn back his spot in the starting rotation. Sophomores Brian Johnson and Hudson Randall seem to have their spots locked up in the rotation. The final spot remains up in the air, with Panteliodis fighting freshman Karsten Whitson and junior Tommy Toledo for the job.

"Hopefully I can get my starting job back, but as long as I get to pitch, I'm happy," Panteliodis said. "We're always fighting for playing time. Everyone knows what you have to do to get your job and then to keep it. I'm just trying to get it back."


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