Mat Troupe’s season — and possibly career — changed on one pitch earlier this month against Kent State.
After throwing a curveball to catcher Riley Moore, Troupe knew trouble was ahead.
“It felt like someone took a lighter to my elbow,” Troupe said.
Troupe tried to pitch through the pain and after a successful bullpen session a couple of days later in practice, thought he had turned a corner. He told coach Andy Lopez he was ready to start a midweek game against Utah Valley.
The right-hander from Northridge, Calif., lasted just 1º innings and gave up six runs. He couldn’t throw off-speed pitches without severe pain.
Lopez shut down Troupe for the next series, and the junior went for a series of MRIs.
Wednesday, Troupe’s worst fears were realized.
The pitcher who recorded the final out of the UA’s 2012 national championship win will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will miss the remainder of the season.
“It was something that we kinda knew in the backs of our minds,” Troupe said. “We tried to put it off and get through it. But we had to figure out exactly what it was, and it’s what we were hoping it wasn’t.”
Troupe, who was transitioning to a starter’s role after two seasons as the closer, will now head to Texas and have the surgery. Dr. Keith Meister, the team physician of the Texas Rangers, will perform the surgery.
Lopez and Troupe are both hopeful the pitcher will be healthy in time to return for Pac-12 play next season. Troupe had been battling arm soreness since October.
“We just signed a pretty good recruit for next year’s Pac-12 season,” Lopez said. “Plus, he’s going to get his degree. That’s the upside. The downside is we’re obviously losing a really key guy.”
Troupe will be eligible for the major-league draft in June. He throws in the low 90s when healthy and impressed big-league scouts last summer in the Cape Cod League.
But he’s planning on returning for his senior season.
“I guess that would be the correct process to wait and see, but I completely see myself in this uniform next year,” Troupe said. “To end my Arizona career this way is not what I want in any way, shape or form.
“I’d say I’m about 95 percent sure I’ll be back in this jersey and leading, hopefully, back-to-back championships.”
With Troupe out, the weekend rotation — for now — will feature James Farris on Fridays, Cody Hamlin on Saturdays and Tyler Crawford on Sundays. Freshman Bobby Dalbec, who is the team’s starting first baseman, will serve as the team’s closer.