Report On Rebel Closer's Injury

They appeared to almost be in a slight case of shock, members of the Ole Miss baseball team after the Sunday setback to Alabama which lost them the series. Certainly the ninth-inning episode with Jake Morgan added greatly to it.

(Editor's Note: Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco released the following statement at 11 a.m. CT Monday, after this story had been published. "The MRI came back clean, but what the x-rays found was some AC joint irritation. Jake will receive treatment with an anti-inflammatory and will take today off. He'll come back tomorrow and play catch a little bit. He will be day-to-day after that.")

The Rebels suffered their second SEC loss in as many days, but until we know something on Morgan, perhaps as soon as today, then we don't know if it was actually a second "loss" on Sunday.

This team won't be the same without Morgan, if it has to spend many games without him until he gets back. There's been some speculation as to how long he might be out with a shoulder problem. I won't go there. I'd rather those who know more about it than I do – doctors, trainers, and such – let us both know.

Again, there's a chance that might be today. Hopefully the news, if not good, won't be too bad.

We could sense the despair on Morgan's face and in his demeanor as he walked slowly, last among them, to join his teammates in the outfield for their postgame talk with their head coach. Jake's blue jersey was unbuttoned and opened. His right arm, so valuable to him, was out of its sleeve. He stood behind the pile of players, dropped slowly to a knee with them for team prayer, likely with thoughts on his own situation.

Morgan on Sunday just after he felt something wasn't right
Bruce Newman
Who among us wouldn't have been thinking those thoughts had we been in his shoes?

This is a fifth-year Rebel who has been through a redshirt year as a freshman and a medical redshirt year last season. This is a player who, since Tommy John surgery a year and a half ago, has done everything humanly possible to get back – to help his team mostly but to help Ole Miss and to hopefully help further his baseball playing days via a pro career.

This is a guy who was taken to last year's postseason, all the way to Charlottesville last June. He wasn't going to pitch due to rehabbing from the surgery. But because of his leadership and maturity, his team needed him. So he was there.

He had thrown all last fall like the Jake of old, like the one we saw in the SEC Championship season of 2009 that ended with a Super Regional hosting of Virginia. We saw Jake pitch with bloody cotton stuffed up both nostrils after getting hit in the face with a ball in pregame warm-ups.

We've watched his recovery from surgery, his rehab, his attitude toward getting back, his weight loss, his better condition. We've watched it all, and some of us even stopped holding our breath when he would pitch because we felt certain he was past the point of injury.

This doesn't appear to be the elbow but, as reported, his shoulder. He walked with doctor and trainer from the outfield where the team was breaking its huddle to the dugout and clubhouse. It was a difficult moment to watch, but much moreso for Jake himself. There is no doubting that.

Jake Morgan doesn't deserve anything but the chance to go out a winner and pitching into June as an Ole Miss Rebel.

Morgan pitching with bloody nose vs. Virginia in Super Regional 2009
Bruce Newman
"He might be back Tuesday, and it might be a long-term thing," said fellow fifth-year Rebel Matt Smith. "I don't know."

Not knowing is likely what worried Jake Morgan the most on Sunday. Again let's hope that's cleared up much more by sometime today.

As for the Rebels, they were disappointed to have dropped the final two games of the SEC opening series. They had won the first game. They were at home. Surely they could win one of the next two against a team that is more likely to be competing for a spot in the eight-team field in Hoover than for an SEC regular season title this spring. Much could likely be said for the Rebels, but there are nine more SEC weekends left to play.

"I feel good," Smith said of his team's chances to bounce back and make something happen the rest of the way. "We just need to get some big hits and be cleaner on the other side of the ball in certain situations."

Second baseman Alex Yarbrough, a veteran already even as a sophomore, agreed.

"We had nine hits," said Yarbrough late on Sunday, addressing the offensive woes earlier and how they seem to be improving. "I think we could have had anywhere from 15 to 18 if we had balls find holes. (Alabama) had a lot of balls to get through and find some green grass out there. We had at least six line outs or one-hoppers right at them. We were all proud of the way we swung the bat. All we were missing was the ball to get through a hole when we had a bunch of runners on base. We were missing that exclamation point."

The Rebels, along with some non-conference action in the midweeks, now hit the SEC road to Tennessee and LSU the next two weekends.

"We view every game and every SEC game as importantly as the next," said Yarbrough, who went 3-for-4 with a run scored on Sunday. "We're looking forward to it, looking forward to the challenge, and we're going to do our best."

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