TCU's Luken Baker smashes his first home run of 2017
TCU first baseman Luken Baker had surgery last week on his left arm and won’t play again this season, coach Jim Schlossnagle said Monday.
The Horned Frogs hoped Baker could return for some action in the NCAA postseason, which begins Friday with the regional round. TCU is hosting the Fort Worth Regional, which includes Virginia, Dallas Baptist and Central Connecticut State.
Baker has been out since May 12, when he was hurt in a collision at first base during a game at Oklahoma. His left arm suffered a hairline fracture, a ligament injury and muscle tear.
“We were holding out hope that we could maybe put together something, or the doctors could, but certainly the injury was far worse than originally expected,” Schlossnagle said. “The No. 1 thing that I told Luken’s parents, I told Luken and we told our doctors is whatever the best thing is for him long-term, for his career, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Baker, a sophomore from Spring, was hitting .317 with a .528 slugging percentage, .454 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 40 walks.
He did not accompany the team to the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City last weekend so he could spend the week in Fort Worth rehabbing and consulting with the team doctor, Schlossnagle said. Ultimately, the decision was made to perform surgery.
Baker attended Monday’s watch party for the NCAA selection show with his left arm in a cast and sling.
“We missed him in Oklahoma City, but he’s been there every step of the way,” catcher Evan Skoug said. “He really inspires and encourages this team. He’s going to be around us. He’s going to be in the dugout. He’s going to be fighting the fight with us, just not on the field.”
Baker was hurt in the eighth inning of a series opener at Oklahoma, when a baserunner ran into his arm as he reached back for a catch. Baker lost the ball, grabbed his arm, and a run scored to tie the game. TCU won the game in the next inning and is 6-5 and averaging 5.8 runs in 11 games since.
“The bottom line is scoring runs,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s never easy. It’s easier when he’s in there. But we’ve been able to put together and play good offense without him there. The biggest thing we have to do is pitch and catch the baseball. That’ll be the challenge this weekend.”
Fort Worth Regional
No. 11 Virginia vs. Dallas Baptist, 3 p.m. Friday
No. 7 TCU vs. Central Connecticut State, 8 p.m. Friday