One word usually isn’t enough tell the story of a man.
But for Mat Troupe, it’s plenty.
“Frustrated,” Arizona’s junior pitcher said. “Frustrated is the word these days.”
The UA’s former closer, who recorded the final out of the 2012 College World Series championship game as a freshman, is a long way from Omaha these days.
Troupe was expected to move into Arizona’s weekend rotation this season and take his above-average stuff from the bullpen and spread it over several innings as a starter.
He spent last summer lighting up the radar guns in the Cape Cod League and coach Andy Lopez thought he could possibly have his first true weekend ace since Kurt Heyer.
Then everybody’s least favorite name in baseball — Tommy John — barged its way into Troupe’s life.
After pitching through some elbow soreness and giving up six runs in 3º innings to start the season, Troupe elected to have Tommy John surgery in early March to repair his ulnar collateral ligament.
He’s entering Week 9 of his rehabilitation, still can’t throw a baseball and has had to watch Arizona’s 19-30 season from the dugout and TV.
“I’d give 100 percent to be out there and compete at times when I have felt the team was not competing,” Troupe said this week. “I’ve had that feeling a lot, unfortunately. I want nothing more then to get out there and give it my all.”
Arizona, which opens a three-game road series at Cal tonight, has struggled both on the field and in the clubhouse this season.
Lopez, who admitted, “if there’s one thing we’ve lacked, it’s leadership” said Troupe would have been that leader this season if healthy.
“The truth is when the older guys are performing well, they can lead easier than when they are sitting around hurt and sick,” Lopez said. “Troupe is doing what he can, even in this late stage, but it’s tough. I’m not going to say Troupe was Alex Mejia, but I think Troupe has some of the intangibles to be a leader.”
Added the pitcher: “My downfall pitching is walking guys. But I’m going to give 110 percent and walk you throwing everything I have. It would be really nice to go out and play as hard as I can with this team.”
Instead, Troupe has to stay home for all road games and misses most on-field practices so he can do elbow rehab.
He has a hard time watching the road games on TV and wishes he could do more for the UA, owners of an 8-19 Pac-12 record.
Lopez said Troupe would help, both by providing an extra punch in the rotation, and also by infusing his fire into a team that hasn’t played with much edge.
“It’s tough sitting at home and watching the team lose,” said Troupe of the Wildcats, who have lost 10 of 12 road conference games this year. “I’m not there to help the guys out and tell them what they need to hear in order to get the game back on track.”
The goal is still for Troupe to be healthy and ready to help the UA come Pac-12 play next season. If he bypasses the MLB draft this summer as expected, Troupe should be on pace to begin pitching a couple weeks into the 2015 season.
He will likely move back to the bullpen for his senior year.
But before he starts thinking about all that, Troupe is just focused on July 5.
“That’s when I can throw a baseball for the first time,” Troupe said. “I cannot wait. It’s literally the smallest distance you can throw a baseball, but just to feel the ball back in my hands will be very exciting.
“Baseball has been my life since I was 4, so not being able to do it for the first time has been tough.”