By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball is getting one of its veteran arms back in the fold as it moves forward in Big 12 Conference play.
Senior pitcher Alex Phillips has started two games on the mound since returning from an elbow injury that kept him out for a month and a half.
Phillips made his return on March 20 against Dallas Baptist University, pitching two innings and giving up zero runs to pick up the win for the Bears.
Phillips said finally being able to help out the team is rewarding.
“It always feels good anytime I can get a zero for my team,” Phillips said. “That’s the reason I’m here. I love being out there, helping my team as much as I can. I finally get back out there and see the support my teammates are giving me, its a great great feeling.”
The Nacogdoches native appeared in 17 games last season, starting eight of the games and going 4-3 as a starter with a 5.83 ERA.
Phillips said this injury was nothing serious, but did hinder him from performing on the field.
“The right side of the elbow, something funny was kind of happening,” Phillips said. “Every time I would throw the ball, it started affecting me. The doctor said there’s some junk in there that we just gotta clean up, and so that’s what they did. They scoped it and cleaned up a bunch of junk.”
Phillips missed the entire 2016 season at Baylor after having Tommy John surgery following sophomore and freshman seasons at San Jacinto College and Arkansas, respectively.
Phillips redshirted that season, and now as a seasoned veteran, is currently serving as Baylor’s midweek starter.
Phillips said this surgery was much less painful than Tommy John, so getting back to form will take less time.
“I know what to do at this point,” Phillips said. “I know how it’s supposed to feel and how it’s not supposed to feel. This was nothing like Tommy John. Tommy John you’re in that splint for the first six weeks and your arm is hurting all the time. This one I was in the cast for two days. I already had full motion after about a week.”
Phillips started on the mound Monday night in the Bears’ 17-5 win over Prairie View A&M, but gave up seven hits and and three runs in just three innings pitched.
Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez said the more pitches Phillips gets under his belt, the better.
“The biggest thing is we need to get his pitch count up,” Rodriguez said. “He did a good job going three innings for us. It was nice to see him get out there. I think he was up in the 50 or 60 range, so that was really good to see. So now we know that we can put him out there at least for a couple innings in the future, which is gonna be good.”
Sophomore pitcher Cody Bradford said Phillips is a vocal leader, so getting him back in the dugout and on the field will help the team’s morale.
“It adds a lot of hype to the team,” Bradford said. “[Alex Phillips] is a big part of this team. He’s a vocal guy. When he’s healthy and he’s competing out there, it’s fun in the dugout. It’s fun on the field when you hear guys chirping like that.”
The Bears look to pick up a series win over Oklahoma as they face the Sooners starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Norman, Okla.