Thursday, May 26, 2011

Metro Spirit 5-26

Belcher Gets Back To It

While his team was preparing to head to Hoover, Ala., for the SEC baseball tournament, this time as the defending National Champions after emerging out of the losers bracket and posting a miraculous six-game win streak to take the title, South Carolina pitcher Nolan Belcher picked up a ball and glove and began a comeback story of his own.

We had a chance to catch up with Nolan and see how his rehab is coming along after having Tommy John surgery on his torn UCL in his left elbow, ask which opposing pitchers in the SEC he likes to watch, and finally, we revisit just how special last year was and how much momentum it has given the team this year heading into post-season play.

Matt Lane: What’s the injury process been like for you? You’ve never had to deal with a major injury like this before, right?

Nolan Belcher: It’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’ve been playing baseball since I was five years old, so this being the first year that I’m not able to play has been pretty rough.

ML: Has the injury taken its toll on you mentally as well?

NB: I’ve heard lots of guys who’ve had the surgery talk about how it’s tougher mentally even more so than physically. Just having to go into the training room everyday and do the same rehab stuff every single day really drains you. I’ve had to just stay focused and not look toward tomorrow. I really have to look to a year from now and see how it’s going to get me ready.

ML: So what is your rehab schedule? You had surgery in January, have you started throwing yet?

NB: Two weeks ago, I started throwing a baseball against a wall about 15 feet away—just to try and get my arm going through the full range of motion. This week, I’ll start a throwing program that everyone who has Tommy John surgery goes through. It’s a progression program that starts at about 45 feet away and you do a certain amount of sets. I’ll probably start by doing about 2 sets of 20 throws to begin building the strength back up in my arm.

ML: Have you been surprised at the success of the South Carolina pitchers this season, namely Michael Roth and his development as a starter this year?

NB: Not at all. After last year, Roth was one of our best relievers coming out of the bullpen facing left-handed batters, and he also had those two big starts in Omaha last year where he threw a complete game against Clemson, and then started the National Championship clinching game against UCLA and threw well in that game too. Sophomore Colby Holmes has emerged as a great starter for us and freshman Forrest Koumas is also pitching great as well.

ML: There are only a select few spots on a team’s rotation, and your team has elite talent coming in every year. Do you worry about where your place is on this team once you come back?

NB: As it looks right now, Roth has a good chance of getting drafted, but I think he might come back. Forrest is a freshman and Colby is a sophomore. So hopefully the rotation as a whole will be back next year. If I had to choose, of course, I’d want to be a starter, but obviously I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win.

ML: Talk about some of the other pitchers in the SEC that you have been impressed with this year.

NB: Vanderbilt has some of the best pitching in the country. Starting with Sonny Gray, who’s a smaller guy but throws really hard for his size and has some electric stuff. I really like him because, like me, he’s not really a big guy, so he has to work for everything he gets. Florida’s Hudson Randall has stuff that isn’t overpowering, but he’s really good at locating his pitches and keeping the ball down.

ML: Finishing up, what was it about last year’s team that put you guys over the top?

NB: We had a bunch of tough guys. We didn’t have a single 1st, 2nd or 3rd round draft pick last year, but we had a bunch of good college baseball players who were tough and really wanted to win. Just like my time at Greenbrier, we had great team chemistry and that takes teams much farther than maybe they should go.


SEC Baseball Tournament Coverage

Wednesday--Sunday with TV schedule, game times and results available on


Quick Hitters

I’m pretty sure we’ll see The Rapture before we see another Triple Crown winner. Unless you happen to align yourselves with the teachings of Bieber, whose wisdom knows no bounds. #neversaynever

Congrats class of 2011. Save every penny you earn and invest in a black mask so you can then save all the money you didn’t.

Blue Crush 2 is now available on DVD! Which brings up the question: Has there ever been even an average straight-to-DVD movie? The Marine 2 with Ted DiBiase, Jr. instead of John Cena was pretty good. That last line was the dumbest thing I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something!

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