Wimmers On Road Back To Health

The most talked about hamstring in Ohio State athletics at the moment belongs to ace pitcher Alex Wimmers. The junior suffered an injury to the muscle nearly two weeks ago, and a Buckeye team in a heated Big Ten race would love to have him back. Just how close is he? BuckeyeSports.com has the answer.

In the heart of a wild race for a Big Ten championship, the Ohio State baseball team would like to have No. 1 starter Alex Wimmers.

However, head coach Bob Todd isn't going to push his ace as he returns to health from a left hamstring pull that cropped up before a scheduled start April 30 at Michigan, and the million-dollar right arm possessed by the Cincinnati Moeller product serves as a major mitigating circumstance.

"He's just got to show us that he's healthy," Todd said. "Obviously, he's got such a bright future, and we aren't going to do anything to jeopardize his career. We're at a point where the team needs him and I think that when you ask Alex, he's a competitor and he wants to be out there, but we have to be smart about it."

Right now, smart about it means Wimmers will pitch Sunday at Iowa at the absolute earliest. The righthander threw his first bullpen session since suffering the injury on Tuesday and was expected to accompany the team to the three-game weekend series in Iowa City, but it still appears unlikely he'll see the mound in the crucial set.

"I thought he was fine," Todd said. "Yesterday when he threw a bullpen I thought he was maybe ahead of schedule. He actually threw long toss afterward. But every time he really followed through – he never did cut loose, and every time he followed through, then he could feel it. It was a twinge. We're just at a point right now where we've rested him for 14 to 16 days. We can't afford to have one pitch waste those two weeks."

Should Wimmers not pitch against the Hawkeyes, he'd likely have his next chance to see the mound when the team returns to Bill Davis Stadium to close the season May 20-22 against Minnesota.

With the Buckeyes sitting in fifth place in the Big Ten – but only one game out of a four-way tie for first place and one ahead of last – it's safe to say Wimmers is champing at the bit to return to the hill.

"It's killing me because with this conference being as close as it is, you want to be out there helping your team as much as possible," said Wimmers, who still described the hamstring as tight and sore on Tuesday. "I'm working extremely hard to go back and help this team out."

The team would like to have the College Baseball Foundation Pitcher of the Year Award quarterfinalist back, too. Wimmers had won every start at the time of his injury, going 9-0 with a 1.61 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched. The 9-0 start matches the best in OSU history – set by Scott Lewis in 2003 and Doug Swearingen in 1982 – but is the first to come after only nine appearances.

The Buckeyes are only 3-7 since the injury and have lost both Friday night Big Ten contests.

Since the injury, Wimmers said he's been doing everything possible to return. Pitching coach Eric Parker said the pitcher has been doing long toss to work out his arm while also lifting weights and hitting the training room.

"I'm trying to get as much treatment as possible," Wimmers said. "I'm practically living in the training room. I'm doing the best I can to get the most treatment as possible, trying to get healthy."

That's not surprising given the competitive fire Wimmers' teammates and coaches have discussed him possessing over the past two years as he's emerged as one of the best pitchers in the nation.

However, that fire can be a downside here if he tries to return too quickly. Baseball history is fraught with those who have tried to compensate for one injury – especially to the legs, the power source for pitchers – and ended up causing a different malady.

"One thing can lead to another," Parker said. "You don't want him compensating another part, whether it's tweaking his mechanics which will then counteract doing something with his arm or his back or anything else involved. Trying to compensate for one thing can end up hurting something else. It's just a process and we're taking it day by day."

That's why Parker added Wimmers will have to show he can do everything required of a pitcher in order to be allowed back on the mound for Ohio State. Given everything at stake when the June draft rolls around, Wimmers understands that's the case.

"I don't think anybody would let me go out there if I'm just 90 percent," he said. "I have to be 110 percent in order to go back out there. If it's sore and I still feel a little bit of something, the chances of tweaking it again are pretty probable. You don't know what to expect if you're not 110 percent."

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