Carter tears UCL, will require Tommy John surgery

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Arkansas pitcher Dylan Carter throws during a game against Alabama on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Fayetteville.
( Hank Layton)
Arkansas pitcher Dylan Carter throws during a game against Alabama on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas right-handed pitcher Dylan Carter will require Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. 

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my 2023 season has come to an end due to a UCL tear,” Carter wrote Wednesday in a graphic posted to his Twitter account. “This season has been nothing short of amazing and our team’s season isn’t over yet. I will be the best teammate and supporter as we finish up the season and begin our run to Omaha.” 

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Monday that Carter was undergoing a second MRI that day.

"The first MRI came back negative, which means no tear," Van Horn said Monday at Swatter’s Club. "What we're going to another MRI [Monday] with the dye. They put dye in your arm and if there is any kind of tear, it's going to find we'll know 100% for sure on him.”

Carter, a redshirt sophomore from Bentonville West, is the third front-line Arkansas pitcher to suffer a season-ending injury, and the second to require Tommy John surgery. Right-hander Jaxon Wiggins was injured during the preseason and underwent Tommy John surgery in February, and right-hander Koty Frank underwent surgery to repair a torn lat muscle that he suffered during a game against Wright State on March 5. 

Wiggins is a high-round draft prospect who could be selected in this year's MLB Draft. Frank is expected to return to the program next season. 

Carter's prospects for playing in 2024 seem iffy due to the long timeline for recovery from Tommy John surgery, typically around one year. A team spokesman said Wednesday that a surgery date has yet to be scheduled.

Carter has been a reliable weekend arm since Frank’s injury, but he began to develop soreness in his elbow following a 38-pitch outing at Georgia on April 20. In his next outing, last Thursday against Texas A&M, Carter left the game after throwing 24 pitches and complained again of soreness. 

“He’s been sore and he’s sore again,” Van Horn said after the Texas A&M outing. “That’s probably not a good sign.” 

Carter had a 6-0 record, 2 saves and 3.65 ERA in 16 appearances that lasted 37 innings — the most thrown by a Razorback who did not start a game.

Coaches challenged pitchers to increase their output by 5% or more in the wake of the same-week injuries to Brady Tygart (sprained UCL) and Frank in early March. Tygart returned from his injury last week with a 20-pitch start against Texas A&M, and is expected to increase his pitch count each week moving forward. 

Following his 4 2/3-inning win in relief against Tennessee on April 16 that Van Horn called “gutsy,” Carter said more than a few pitchers had answered the call. 

“I think the whole pitching staff stepped up,” Carter said. “I don’t think they’ve given 5%; I think they’ve given every single ounce of effort they can. It’s huge being able to do what we have done to this point, and soon Brady coming back just adds to it. We’ve really stepped up and accepted the challenge.” 


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