Make us your home page

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

  1. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has



    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  4. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.