Clark's Injury Could Hurt His Draft Status

First baseman Andrew Clark suffered a devastating injury last November, and the senior is not only trying to rehab, but has a very tough decision to make. Clark, who also is a dominating pitcher in Indiana, can easily quit pitching – but if he does so he will let down his friends, his teammates, his school and many more in the state of Indiana. If he continues pitching, his career could be in jeopardy.

It all began at the East Coast Showcase in North Carolina last November. Clark was playing his normal position on the field, first base, and tried to make a diving stop. The senior, however, tore a labrum in his shoulder. At first Clark did not know how severe his injury was and continued playing.

"I went to one doctor and he took an X-Ray instead of an MRI and then told me he saw nothing wrong," Clark said from his Indiana home. "In November I finally went to the best doctor in the state of Indiana and he took an MRI and told me I tore my labrum, and the best way to fix it would be through surgery."

Clark had the surgery on December 6, and was told he would be sidelined between four and six months. The problem is Clark's high school senior begins in couple of months and the first baseman is dedicated to getting back on the field in time for his high school season.

"I want to do whatever it takes to get back on the field," a defying Clark said. "There is lots of talk that I won't be able to make it back and my draft status will be hurt."

Clark is motivated to get through the adversity and prove all his critics wrong.

"I will show them I will be back, and will be stronger than before. I realize I have to work five times as hard to not only get back, but be even better than my previous season. I will do whatever it takes without pushing it too far."

There a lies a major problem in this equation. Normally as an offensive player a labrum surgery is not the end of the world. However, Clark is also an outstanding left-handed pitcher and one of the best in Indiana. Over his three years in high school Clark has never lost a game. He is a perfect 27-0, and the only undefeated pitcher in the state of Indiana. Most scouts view Clark making his money with the bat, and Clark needs to make a decision. Will he quit pitching and let down his team, and his friends, or will be continue pitching and possibly hurt his shoulder even more?

"It's really hard for me. My coaches and friends are counting on me to pitch and I don't want to let them down. However, I also have to look to the future. I know I am a better hitter than a pitcher, and scouts tell me I will make my money with the bat."

Clark also realizes as a senior he is considered as a role model by the younger players, and doesn't want to be labeled as a quitter or a player that is scared.

"I take a lot of pride as one of the team leaders," said Clark, who once went 7-for-8 with seven home runs while playing on a traveling team as a 13-year-old.

The New Palestine senior has already made a commitment to Ole Miss, and there lies another problem. Head coach Mike Bianco views Clark as a two-way player and intends to have the left-hander pitching if he does not enter professional baseball.

"Andrew Clark is recognized as one of the top players in the country and has been in the top 50 recruits in all of the national polls," Bianco said. "He can beat you on the mound, in the field or with his bat. He's a big left-handed hitter who can be compared to Stephen Head. That may not be a fair comparison because of the pressure, but it's more of a compliment to Andrew and what he brings to the field."

Clark has been named as an All-State selection the past two seasons and for the past three years as been named as All-Conference and on the Indianapolis Star Super Team. On the mound Clark has posted a 27-0 record with 300 strikeouts, in 194 innings of work, and a 1.34 ERA for his three-year career. Last season Clark recorded 88 strikeouts while going 10-0 in 55 innings of work, and a 0.64 ERA.

At the plate, Clark has been a force as well, as he hit .375 as a junior with 25 RBI on 30 hits. He was walked 36 times and struck out only nine times in the season. He also scored 27 runs and went 7-for-9 in steals. Clark has a state championship under his belt, and was the winning pitcher of the Championship game, tossing a three-hitter, while hitting a two-run home run in a 3-2 victory.

"Ole Miss is a great baseball school, with outstanding facilities, coaches and they also have my major," said Clark, who decided on Ole Miss over Georgia Tech, South Carolina and N.C. State. "The coaches view me as a two-way player, but I might shut down myself as a pitcher."

Clark is not thinking about the Major League Draft at this stage and his main focus is getting his shoulder healthy enough for his senior season. Clark will definitely be a force at the plate, but will likely need his teammates to pick up him on the mound, since at this point it looks unlikely that Clark will be pitching come April As far as the draft goes? Clark made it clear what it will take for him to sign.

"For me to even consider signing, I would have to be chosen within the first three rounds."

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