It’s just a setback

By Kevin Eckleberry

May 30, 2014

He hoped for the best.

Josh King, a senior pitcher for the Marshall University baseball team, had just finished pitching in a game last season when he began feeling some pain in his arm, and he was hoping he’d be able to keep playing.

“In our first conference game, the next day I had a lot of pain,” said King, a Troup High graduate. “It initially started in my forearm, and I just kept pitching.”

King was in the midst of a superb season, and even after the pain started, he went out in his next start and delivered a terrific outing against Southern Mississippi.

“I threw an almost complete game against Southern Miss, and the next day I couldn’t pick up a baseball,” King said.

King didn’t pitch again during the season.

King and the team looked at different options, from rest to a platelet plasma injection procedure, but nothing worked.

King, who suffered a UCL tear in his elbow, eventually ended up having Tommy John surgery earlier this month.

His season, and possibly his collegiate career were over, or so he thought at the time.

There was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy situation, though.

King recently found out he was granted a medical red-shirt year, so if he chooses to, he’ll be able to return to Marshall for one more year.

King said he would also consider beginning his professional baseball career if he’s drafted, but he’s relieved to know that no matter what, he’ll be able to pitch again.

“At the time, (getting the red-shirt year) was a stress reliever,” King said. “I was like, man, I may never get to play this game I love again.”

King said if he’d thrown a little more, he would have been ineligible for the red-shirt year.

“I was right there at the edge of it,” King said. “If I had thrown like one more inning or something they said, I wouldn’t have been able to get it.”

King was having an excellent spring, becoming arguably the ace of the staff.

In King’s six starts, while he was just 2-2, he had a stellar 2.60 earned run average.

“It was fun being the Friday night guy,” said King, meaning he was getting the ball for the opening game of a weekend series. “It was awesome.”

When the pain started, King tried to ride things out.

“It started in my forearm, and I did rehab all week, and then I was able to get it where it was good for the Southern Miss game, so I was able to throw that one,” King said. “And then we did that same rehab the next week, and I threw against (Florida International). And then in the second inning of the FIU game, I had to step off the mound.”

King considered calling it quits right there, but he’s a competitor, and he wasn’t going to leave the mound.

“I was within a couple of seconds of telling them to come take me out, but my personality is way too strong. I just pitched through it,” King said. “The next day, I talked to my trainer, and I was like we might have to get it checked out. It’s getting worse and worse.”

King said “they diagnosed it as a chronic UCL tear.”

“He said that I had torn it, but I just kept throwing with it,” King added. “It was already trying to repair itself.”

That’s when the decision was made to have King undergo the platelet plasma injection, but that didn’t help either.

“They thought it may help the healing process and I would be able to finish the season out,” King said. “I waited a week on that, and I tried to throw, and I had the same amount of pain. It was no better and no worse. And then they held off another week.”

It didn’t make any difference.

“I tried to throw again, and nothing helped at all,” King said. “So finally, they were like, we’ll have to schedule the surgery.”

King had the surgery, and now it’s all about making sure he’ll be ready to go physically when he can pitch again.

“I’m in the gym everyday trying to get better,” King said.

King said he goes to Southern Rehab and Sports Medicine to work on his repaired arm.

“I go to rehab twice a week at Southern Rehab,” King said.

King has enjoyed a successful career at Marshall.

For his first three seasons, he pitched primarily out of the bullpen, and he had nine saves, putting him in third place in the history of the program in that category.

King was moved into the rotation as a senior and became an anchor of the staff.

Off the field, King got it done in the class room as well, and this spring he earned his bachelor’s degree.

Last week, King got a nice surprise in the mail.

“(The diploma) came in the mail” King said. “That was kind of surreal once I saw it laying there. I opened it up, and I thought, this actually means I did it. That was a lot of hours.”

King is hopeful that when the 2014 season rolls around - whether he’s back at Marshall or beginning his pro career - he’ll be better than ever.

“Everything happens for a reason, that’s the way I look at it,” King said. “I’ll take advantage of the opportunity I get.”