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Arizona baseball: Mathew Troupe working his way back from Tommy John Surgery setback

Arizona's been missing a familiar face in the bullpen in 2015, but he may be back sooner than later

Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports

This is the final year that you'll see contributors from the 2012 National Championship team still on the Arizona Wildcats.

Riley Moore is still the catcher. Joseph Maggi makes the occasional appearance at first base.

But Mathew Troupe has not been on the mound since the first series of the year.

Just 11 months after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Arizona's former closer appeared in the ninth inning of the Saturday game against Eastern Michigan. He struggled, walking two batters and giving up a hit while recording just one out.

And since then, he's disappeared.

"Thought mentally that I was ready back at the beginning of the season, but it was only at 11 months and I should have known better," Troupe said on Saturday. "Got out there, and obviously it spoke for itself. Didn't know where it was going and then (my elbow) tightened up immediately and kind of set me back a little bit."

After that appearance, Troupe was completely shut down for a month. He says he didn't even pick up a baseball during that time.

"It was doing some weird things to me," he said about his elbow ligament. "It completely contracted and it kind of just stuck. I lost my extension, lost my flexion and swelled up on me immediately."

"It was kind of a scary scenario, because that was the first time I'd pitched since I tore it in the first place so it kind of put some bad, weird thoughts in my head."

It seems like a plausible scenario that with his elbow acting up the way it did, he could just say, give me a redshirt and I'll come back stronger than ever next year and really improve my draft stock.

But that thought never went through his head.

"I'm sick and tired of just watching," Troupe said. "I want to get out there."

The doctor that performed the TJ surgery on Troupe is a Texas Rangers doctor, so conveniently he was already out in Arizona during the month that the reliever was shut down.

"I drove down when the team was in Mississippi State," Troupe said. "And then the next weekend I drove to Phoenix and got to talk to him, and he was not too happy that we decided to go that soon. The initial goal was about 13 months, and we went at 11."

"Obviously I wanted to pitch. It'd been so long and I just jumped the gun and wasn't ready to go. And now it feels a whole lot better."

"But turns out it just needed that rest."

The last two weeks, Troupe has resumed throwing activities, and has thrown five bullpen sessions, with the latest one coming Saturday morning before the USC series finale. He is also slated to throw in Tuesday's intrasquad game.

Even though he's feeling fine throwing in practice right now, the senior knows that it's not exactly what it's like to throw in a game anyway. Just four days before that horrible outing against EMU, Troupe pitched against a South Korean team in a scrimmage for an inning, and looked great.

"It's just not the same adrenaline rush as when you get in the game," Troupe explained. "I guess I tried to do way too much, and my arm was angry, and it got shocked, and it was letting me know that it just takes time."

That adrenaline rush may be coming sooner rather than later for the reliever. As long as things go as planned on Tuesday, Troupe will be available to pitch this upcoming weekend against Arizona State.

"I'm cleared to go physically and mentally," he confirmed. "Mentally is never going to be the issue with me. I just like to compete, and if I go down, I'm going down with everything I've got. You won't see me on the mound babying it or taking pitches off. Mentally I am there, and physically I am extremely confident that I'll be there too."

"I'm not going out there throwing 6-7-8-9," Troupe joked. "If we need a few outs, or a big righty-on-righty situation. I love big situations. If there's a time where I need to get one out, bases loaded, whatever, backs against our wall...I'm making sure Lopez knows I want to get in there."

If this is really the weekend Troupe comes back and is effective, that would be some kind of timing, and he knows that as well.

"Not only does it feel good I finally get to pitch, but it feels good that THAT'S the weekend I get to pitch."