Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Razorback Baseball Notebook: Rehabbing Hogs progressing, outside fall competition not expected
Arkansas second baseman Peyton Stovall (left) throws as Texas A&M's Brett Minnich slides into second base during a game Saturday, April 29, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — A pair of Arkansas baseball players are doing well in their recovery from surgeries, coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday.
Second baseman Peyton Stovall (torn labrum) and right-handed pitcher Dylan Carter (torn ulnar collateral ligament) underwent surgeries in May. Stovall is expected to be ready to play for the 2024 season, Van Horn said previously, but the outlook for Carter is not clear due to the timing of his surgery and the longer rehab required.
“They’re just working hard. They’ve been here all summer,” Van Horn said. “I feel like Dylan is probably farther along than a lot of people thought he would be, but he had surgery late season, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes, when he can get back.
“[Stovall has] been working with Corey [Wood] super hard, our trainer. I think he’s on pace or ahead of pace from everything I’ve been told.”
Stovall batted .253 overall and .193 in SEC play as a sophomore — down from .295 and .218 his freshman season — as he battled lingering soreness in his right shoulder that affected his swing for more than a month before he was shut down in late April. Stovall bats from the left side and throws with his right arm.
Following the season, Van Horn said he expected Stovall to recover well enough to play second base again in 2024.
Until his own injury, Carter became a reliable weekend arm in the wake of several early-season injuries to Arkansas pitchers. He began to develop soreness in his throwing elbow following a 38-pitch outing at Georgia on April 20. He pitched again the following week, but left after 24 pitches and never pitched again.
Carter had a 6-0 record, 2 saves and a 3.65 ERA in 16 appearances. His 37 innings were the most thrown by a Razorback who did not start a game.
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Stovall and Carter are not the only Arkansas players rehabbing this offseason. Right-handed pitcher Koty Frank tore his lat muscle during a game in March, and heralded freshman left-hander Adam Hachman had his UCL tear repaired with an internal brace.
Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs said last week Hachman was a candidate for the alternative to Tommy John surgery. A brace can shorten the rehabilitation time for ligament tears in the elbow.
Baseball America rated Hachman the No. 46 prospect for this year’s draft before he was injured while playing for his high school near St. Louis.
“He’ll show us what we need to do,” Van Horn said. “We’re not going to rush him, push him. If he’s ready to pitch this year, he’ll definitely pitch. If he’s not, we’ll just get ready for the future and hopefully have two really good years. If we get 2 1/2 good years, that's fine.
"I don't feel like we'll be seeing him pitch in the fall, but maybe in the spring, and if that's the case that'll be great."
Frank is expected to be ready for the season, but will be limited in the fall.
“His recovery has gone great,” Hobbs said. “He’s a guy that we're obviously going to lean on quite a bit this season. He’ll probably start ramping up aggressively a little more toward November, December than he will toward September, October.”
Right-handed pitcher Josh Hyneman underwent Tommy John surgery in July. Hyneman redshirted last season.
Van Horn said he does not expect the Razorbacks will play any outside competition this fall.
Arkansas has not played another college team during the fall since 2019, but did play twice against the Texas Rangers’ Instructional League team last October.
“We have a lot of pitchers in here that we need to see them throw, and [outside competition] would maybe take away a little bit,” said Van Horn, who added, “I don’t think we want to go there yet. We’ll have a really good fall when it comes to our scrimmages. We have good players that can play multiple positions and we feel like our scrimmages are going to be super competitive.”
Players will report to campus by Aug. 20. Two weeks of position instruction will precede full team practice, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 8 and last 45 days into October.
Morris moves on
Van Horn spoke to reporters for the first time since left-hander Zack Morris transferred from Arkansas to TCU.
During a June 28 meeting with reporters, Van Horn indicated Morris would return to the team if he was not drafted.
“He had a good career here, but he just wanted to pitch more,” Van Horn said. “I think he wanted to be a conference starter and we couldn’t guarantee him that.
“He just felt like he needed to go, and we get it. We’re going to wish him all the best — we already have — and hope he does well.”
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One year after he was a key reliever in the Razorbacks’ run to the semifinals at the College World Series, Morris struggled with consistency in his final season at Arkansas. He finished his junior campaign with a 1-4 record and 7.64 ERA in 18 innings.
Other players from Arkansas’ 2023 team who have found a new home are outfielder Mason Neville (Oregon), infielder Harold Coll (Houston) and left-handed pitcher Sean Fitzpatrick (Arizona State).
Van Horn teased a strong home schedule for his team in 2024, but did not provide details. The Razorbacks’ schedule has yet to be released.
If the SEC keeps the same scheduling rotation, Arkansas would host the two teams that played for a national championship this year, LSU and Florida, plus Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Missouri in conference play. It is not clear whether that will be the case.
“The non-conference games that we're going to play and then conference games here, the fans are going to have an incredible home schedule,” Van Horn said.
The only three games confirmed on the Razorbacks' 2024 schedule are Feb. 23-25 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where Arkansas will play Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Michigan. Dates and start times for the individual matchups will be announced later this year.
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