Randy Labaut is ready to put an injury-plagued 2018 behind him.
The left-handed pitcher had been near lights out for the Arizona Wildcats to start last season, posting a 1.60 ERA over eight appearances and 33 innings, and was well on the way to helping his team to another NCAA Tournament appearance.
In a start against Washington in March, however, everything changed for Labaut. After throwing 5.2 shutout innings in Seattle, he says he started to feel pain in his left leg. When he woke up the next morning, he could barely walk.
That’s when team trainer Isaac Trujillo suggested that Labaut be taken to a Seattle area hospital to be checked out.
The news wasn’t good: Labaut had compartment syndrome in his left leg, a condition caused by excessive pressure in the muscles that can result in permanent nerve or muscle damage if left untreated. He underwent emergency surgery that day, remained in Seattle after his team returned to Tucson and had another surgery three days later.
His season was effectively over.
“I was just crying when they told me,” Labaut said of the hospital doctors. “My mindset was that I was just going to the doctor, probably going to just get some medication. I couldn’t believe it when they said I had to have surgery. It was a dark place in my life.”
Coming into this season, though, Labaut says that he is physically and mentally stronger than ever and that the injury isn’t going to hold him back as he looks forward to helping the Wildcats get back to the postseason.
“It was definitely tough sitting in the clubhouse and not hearing our name called,” he said, when asked about the disappointment of not reaching the NCAA Tournament. “I try not to think about it a lot but it crosses your mind sometimes, that we were so close and still were left out. But we are taking it as a positive and to know that we need to leave everything on the table.”
Listening to him, it’s clear the lefty has put the disappointment of last season behind him and is hungrier than ever to get to where he wants to be — personally and for his team.
“I’m over it (the injury) and healthier than ever,” he said. “I’m in a good place in my life right now and in my baseball career.”
Labaut is set to be a major part of the Wildcats’ starting rotation in 2019 and is a favorite to be on the mound come opening day Feb. 15 against Massachusetts-Lowell. When asked about Labaut, his head coach’s excitement at having him back 100 percent is palpable.
“Randy is probably our most experienced pitcher,” UA coach Jay Johnson said. “He’s a four pitch guy and because of that and how he can manipulate the ball, he can get through the order a few times, which is what it takes to get deeper into games. We’re really excited to have him back healthy.”
On Friday, Labaut spoke to the media about his injury, bouncing back from last season, the freshman class and how he has tried to become more of a leader coming into this year. His positivity about this season can be summed up by this quote from his media session: “Everything that I’ve been through is not going to stop me from getting to where I want to be in life.”
Watch his full interview here:
More from yesterday’s Arizona Baseball press conference - junior left handed pitcher Randy Labaut spoke to the media for a few minutes about bouncing back from his injury shortened 2018, how the team has handled missing the post season last year and the toughest freshman to get out so farPosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Saturday, January 26, 2019