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Florida junior right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson, a high-profile MLB draft prospect, will miss the 2013 college baseball season after having a shoulder procedure performed by prestigious orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Whitson's injury comes as a surprise to some, and not so much of a surprise to others. Not long ago, Whitson created a buzz during Florida's Scout Day, when he sat low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. However, he has experienced pain and tenderness in his shoulder the past few weeks, prompting the Gators earlier this week to put him on the shelf for the opener against Duke.
"We're very disappointed that Karsten won't be able to pitch for us this season. But on the other side of it, we're very excited he's going to be 100 percent at the end of this process,"
-- UF head coach Kevin O'Sullivan
Not wasting any time, Karsten's father, Kent, setup a visit with Andrews earlier this week, and the procedure was performed Thursday afternoon.
"We're very disappointed that Karsten won't be able to pitch for us this season. But on the other side of it, we're very excited he's going to be 100 percent at the end of this process," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We look forward to getting him back on the mound in '14."
The silver lining in this situation is that Whitson didn't have major arm surgery. University of Florida doctors were unable to find any shoulder or labrum damage, and Andrews came to the same conclusion. Andrews, however, cleaned up a few areas in Whitson's shoulder, the procedure carried out without needing to cut on him, or full-blown surgery.
"I asked Andrews to give me a thumbs up or thumbs down in respect to how bad it was. We were very happy, as was he, that he was able to give a thumbs up," Kent Whitson said ."Andrews was a straight shooter, and that's something that we really liked. He loves solving these problems."
Whitson's rehabilitation will take at least four months, just in the time for the MLB draft. But while that may indicate Whitson could sign the dotted line with a professional organization this summer, the Whitson's believe it would need to be a perfect situation for him to do so.
"They really didn't see anything in the MRI, but it was good to go ahead and get this out of the way so Karsten can return to normal," Whitson said. "This had been going on for a while, and it's something we had to catch sooner rather than later. We're very happy about the future."
Should Whitson return to college next fall at Florida, he'd be classified a redshirt-junior.
Whitson's Florida career has been well documented. He made headlines in 2010 when he spurned a $2.1 million signing bonus from the San Diego Padres as the ninth overall pick in the MLB draft.
The right-hander's collegiate career has been filled with ups and downs thus far. As a freshman, Whitson made 19 starts and compiled a fantastic 2.40 ERA in 97 1/3 innings of work. He also struck out 92 and walked 28, while teams hit him at a .235 clip. His shoulder tenderness began after his freshman year, and it was evident last season when he was severely limited.
In 2012, Whitson's velocity was down several miles-per-hour, and he tallied just a 3.51 ERA in 10 starts and only 33 1/3 innings of work.
Florida's rotation this weekend includes elite draft prospect Jonathon Crawford, freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson and two-way talent Justin Shafer, another righty.