Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls pitcher Derrick Stultz finds success three years after major shoulder injury

After missing the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Bulls senior Derrick Stultz is 7-1 with a 3.39 ERA: “When you’re out that long, you’re appreciative of what you have.”

Joseph Garnett Jr. | Times (2008)

After missing the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Bulls senior Derrick Stultz is 7-1 with a 3.39 ERA: “When you’re out that long, you’re appreciative of what you have.”

TAMPA — There is pitching on five days' rest, occasionally on four days' rest. And for USF's Derrick Stultz, there is pitching on 1,000 days' rest.

The Bulls have gotten a boost from two pitchers making comebacks. One, Stultz, a senior right-hander, missed nearly three years after tearing the labrum in his shoulder in May 2009.

"For me to be back on the mound, it's just huge for me," said Stultz, a graduate of Wharton High who received a degree in interdisciplinary social sciences last week.

"I had setbacks. It just wasn't healing the way we wanted it to. Somewhere, it just clicked. The rehab changed, and I was back. When you're out that long, you're appreciative of what you have."

Stultz missed all of 2010 and 2011 but started making progress last summer. After going 9-7 with a 3.84 ERA in his first two seasons, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is 7-1 with a 3.39 ERA. His rise has coincided with the Bulls' — 30-18 (13-8 and tied for fourth in the Big East) after two straight losing seasons.

"I think this is, by far, the best all-around team … we've had here," said Stultz, 23, set to start Saturday against Connecticut in Game 2 of USF's final home series of the season. "We've really connected well as a team. We're more of a family than we've ever been."

Stultz was not alone in his rehab.

The Bulls' top pitcher, senior Andrew Barbosa, missed nearly all of last season after elbow ligament replacement surgery (aka Tommy John surgery). Barbosa is 6-4 with a 2.29 ERA that's third in the Big East. Having two reliable veterans in the weekend rotation has been a blessing for the Bulls, coach Lelo Prado said.

"Derrick's … been solid for us," he said. "He put a lot of effort into his rehab this summer and fall. He knows this is his year to get a chance, and he's throwing the ball good. We're fortunate that he came back; that he's healthy."

Stultz's first game back came Feb. 19 against Minnesota. In 2⅔ innings of relief, a conservative first test, he earned the win, allowing three hits and an unearned run. He admitted he felt the same nervousness he felt as a freshman making his first college pitches four years earlier.

Stultz made one more relief appearance, going 3⅔ innings on Feb. 25. He made first start March 3, earning the win against Savannah State by allowing three hits and one unearned run over six innings.

Stultz credits his resurgence to second-year pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. Hernandez came to USF after 31 years of pro experience, including as the Rays pitching coach in 2004-05. Stultz said Hernandez was "fantastic" in building back his arm and confidence, and Prado said the key was being patient.

"The thing Chuck did was really took his time with him," Prado said. "Another guy might have come in and said, 'You're going to pitch now.' He took his time with him; rehabbed the right way."

Stultz's physical recovery has run parallel with an overall maturation over the long absence from baseball. He calls himself "a new man," someone who has weathered the "mental beatdown" of a multiyear rehab process and emerged as a better person. Prado says he sees a realization of the potential he saw five years ago when Stultz signed.

"When everybody counted him out, I always knew there was a chance that Derrick could still become the pitcher I thought he could become," Prado said. "He's grown up in the classroom and out on the field. He's a great kid. He's a laid-back kind of guy.

"But I thought if that light ever hit, look out because you'll get what we're seeing right now."

USF Bulls pitcher Derrick Stultz finds success three years after major shoulder injury 05/10/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season

    Footballpreps

    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  2. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  3. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  4. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  5. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]