By Tiger Rag News Services
BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU freshman pitcher Eric Walker has been diagnosed with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow and will undergo reconstructive surgery, causing him to miss the 2018 season, coach Paul Mainieri announced Thursday.
Walker, a product of Arlington, Texas, helped lead LSU to the 2017 Southeastern Conference championship and a berth in the College World Series, where the Tigers finished as the national runners-up. He is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery next Wednesday in Arlington, where it will be performed by Dr. Keith Meister, the head team physician of the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball club.
“Obviously, the news on Eric’s elbow is very disheartening,” Mainieri said. “First of all, my heart bleeds for Eric as this is not the conclusion to a wonderful freshman year that any of us envisioned. Eric was a rock all year in our weekend rotation and a vital contributor to our SEC Championship, as well as our appearance in the College World Series.
“Had Eric not become hurt, there is no telling how the finals of the CWS could have turned out. He’s an outstanding young man with great leadership ability, and I have no doubt he will meet this challenge in his life as he does every other challenge. He will return to our team better than ever for the 2019 season.”
Walker started 17 games for the Tigers in 2017, posting an 8-2 record with a 3.48 ERA in 95.2 innings. He recorded 23 walks and 78 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .233 batting average.
A Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC selection, Walker pitched LSU to wins in the SEC Tournament championship game versus Arkansas and in the NCAA Regional championship game versus Rice.
“Not having Eric as a veteran returner in 2018 is quite a blow to our team,” Mainieri said. “However, others will get an opportunity and I’m certain (LSU pitching coach) Alan Dunn will work his magic with them, and they’ll step up and help the Tigers win. We will have many outstanding candidates that will develop, and I’m sure we will still have a formidable pitching staff for next season.”