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OSU baseball: Jace Fry focuses on recovery from Tommy John surgery

Oregon State left-hander Jace Fry earned freshman all-America accolades this past spring, but also suffered an injury resulting in Tommy John surgery. His recovery is on track, but when he pitches again will remain a mystery as rehab continues. (Andy Cripe | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Jace Fry never suspected he’d be spending the bulk of his summer in a splint with a sling on his left arm.

Even after taking himself out of Oregon State’s game against Belmont in the Baton Rouge Regional, Fry didn’t expect to have surgery for the second straight summer.

In 2011, Fry had back surgery after helping the Corvallis Knights win the West Coast League championship. That was a cakewalk compared to this summer’s operation.

“At this point in my back surgery, I was already throwing again,” Fry said. “The damage and the pain afterward, Tommy John is much worse than the back surgery.”

Yes, Fry underwent that once dreaded operation just over six weeks ago. Spotted at a Knights game at Goss Stadium, he was free of the splint and sling at five weeks, the arm feeling good.

“The splint is off, my range of motion is almost back to normal,” Fry said during a phone interview on Friday. “There have been no setbacks yet, so everything is going well.”

Of course, there is a livid purplish-red scar on the inside of his left elbow.

“My scar is a lot shorter than most,” Fry said. “Mine is about 8, 9 inches. It usually shrinks up after a while.

“It could have been worse if it had torn in half or ripped part of the bone off.”

Nonetheless, Fry is careful with his arm. He won’t be able to start playing catch for at least another month.

He misses throwing, especially during the summer. A sophomore-to-be, he was slated to pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer after his consensus freshman all-America debut for the Beavers.

There was no instant of injury — although he felt greater pressure in his elbow against Belmont. Fry had endured forearm tightness throughout the season, though it never affected him in a game as he fashioned a credible 5-3 record in 13 starts with a 2.45 earned run average.

“There was some forearm tightness a few weeks before that last start, but I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. “Really, it was up top on the forearm, never in the elbow, and it never hurt in a game.”

Even after leaving the game with Belmont, Fry anticipated some rest and that he’d be back pitching before his 19th birthday in July.

“I definitely was feeling some bad pain in my elbow, almost like tendinitis,” he said. “I thought it would be a couple weeks off and then come back and start throwing.”

An MRI showed a 75 percent tear of the ligament. Given the potential severity of the injury, it was a best-case scenario.

“For as bad a situation as it is, it was the best timing possible,” he said. “I hurt it in the very last game of the season. I can come back in my junior year and prove myself again.”

There’s no ruling out pitching next spring, but Fry already knows any appearance will come late in the season, at best.

There’s no need to rush recovery and every reason to be certain that he’s 100 percent before appearing in a game again. The Beavers have every pitcher from the 2012 team returning.

“It’s a day-by-day thing,” Fry said. “I can’t get it all back in one day, but I can lose it all in one day.”

And for that reason, Fry isn’t concerned with returning to the mound too soon.

Plus the Beavers have a lot of quality arms to fill the void until Fry’s return.

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Sports Reporter/Copy Editor for the Gazette-Times. Primary responsibilities for Oregon State baseball, high school football, soccer and volleyball