Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Battles undergoes surgery, expected back by 2022 season
Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles (4) fields a ball during an NCAA regional game against Nebraska on Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday, but is expected to be available for the 2022 season.
Battles dislocated his left, non-throwing shoulder while playing summer baseball in San Antonio, said Oliver Grigg, spokesman for the Razorbacks. Battles rehabbed the injury and wore a sling as a precaution after returning to Fayetteville earlier this month, but opted for surgery after undergoing an MRI last Friday.
Battles won’t face live pitching when Arkansas goes through fall practice beginning next week, but he is expected to be cleared to swing a bat again by the end of the year.
“Road to recovery! See you in the spring Baum,” Battles wrote in a post to his Instagram page that accompanied a photo of him wearing a hospital arm band.
Battles batted .269 with 6 home runs and 43 RBI this year at Arkansas after transferring from McLennan (Texas) Community College. Battles started 61 of the Razorbacks’ 63 games.
The San Antonio native was eligible for the MLB Draft this year, but went undrafted last month. His father, Fred, said third- and fourth-round offers weren’t near their asking price for a signing bonus. Battles has two years of eligibility remaining.
“The draft process was very stressful,” Battles said earlier this month. “Me and my dad, we came up with a number that we were going to stick to, and when the second day came, the number wasn’t there. I couldn’t sell myself short.
“Either you get your number or you go back to Arkansas for another year, so it was really a win-win situation for me.”
Battles returned to his hometown to play for the Flying Chanclas of the wood-bat Texas Collegiate League in mid-July. In 6 games, Battles was 10 for 25 with 3 walks, 4 runs and 5 RBI.
He played his last game with San Antonio on July 29.
Battles said he made a tweak to his batting stance this summer by eliminating a high leg kick.
“I just felt like my timing was always off,” Battles said. “I was always late when I started my load. I wanted to cut that down.”
When he returns to the field, Battles will be wearing a No. 2 jersey instead of the No. 4 jersey he wore this year. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has been listed as No. 2 on the team’s roster for the past 19 seasons, but Battles said Van Horn agreed to relinquish the number — which Van Horn wore as a player at Arkansas in 1982 and Battles wore at McLennan — if Battles returned for another season.
“It was very cool for him to say that,” Battles said. “It was very special to me.”
CORRECTION: A UA official initially provided an incorrect date for Battles' surgery. It has been corrected.
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