Clemson Baseball

These Tigers' biggest priority is getting healthy this summer

July 1, 2019

Clemson baseball is looking to fill some big voids before the next season begins, mainly in part due to the departure of Grayson Byrd, Kyle Wilkie, and Logan Davidson.

After a disappointing end to the 2019 campaign where the Tigers finished .500 in ACC play and failed to make it out of the Oxford Regional, Clemson is going to have to rely more on its youth in 2020. But even through the struggles, it’s important to remember that the Tigers were without two fairly reliable assets - Kier Meredith and pitcher Spencer Strider.

It feels like just yesterday we met with Meredith, who will be a junior this season, before the season began in January. He suffered a shoulder injury his freshman season after already dealing with another injury before he stepped foot on Clemson’s campus.

“This is the first time I have been healthy in a long time,” Meredith said. “Opening Day I'll be out there, ready to go.”

The speedy sophomore had much to prove, but was only able to play in nine games after only playing in 13 games his freshman season due to yet another injury, this time in his quad where we saw him say he “felt a pop.” Meredith, who was batting .318 before the injury last season, can’t catch a break.

But it’s not just Meredith who couldn’t catch a break. Monte Lee felt good about his pitching staff all season, but he would’ve felt better if he had his veteran starter Strider.

Before the season could begin, Strider tore his UCL in his throwing arm during warmups before a practice. Strider missed the entire season after Tommy John surgery and is currently going through rehab.

Strider was named a freshman All-American after a year in which he struck out 70 batters in 51 innings, had a 4.76 ERA in 22 appearances, and had an overall record of 5-2.

© David Grooms/Clemson Sports Talk
Spencer Strider hopes to return at 100% after spending the entire season on the shelf this past year.

“It’s adversity. It can come at any time,” Strider said when he spoke of the injury.

Strider wasn’t the only pitcher who missed the entire season due to injury. Freshman Carter Raffield is in the same boat as the two are currently going through a 10-12 month process to get their throwing arm back to normal.

Raffield was ranked the No. 49 freshman in the country, and No. 13 freshman in the ACC, according to Perfect Game. At his season wrap-up sit-down with the media, Lee updated the status of the injured Tigers.

Carter Raffield and Spencer Strider are both here along with Kier Meredith,” Lee said. “Those guys are staying here this summer and are all on programs to get them healthy. 

“Kier is here all summer just working out, rehabbing, just trying to get his body ready for the fall so that he can hopefully be able to practice the full fall with us and see what he can do,” Lee added.

“Carter and Spencer, it’ll be January before we get a chance to get those guys on the mound facing hitters, so it’s going to be a little while for those two guys. The fall will be very important for those two guys as far as their throwing program, their lifting routine, those types of things. Just trying to get them back to 100 percent, but it’ll be January before we really know the extent of will they be ready when the season starts based on the nature of the Tommy John surgery.”

Meredith could be a utility player, but would mainly be used in the outfield. That’s the area where Clemson has three experienced players who could all move around. 

“Kier is here all summer just working out, rehabbing, just trying to get his body ready for the fall so that he can hopefully be able to practice the full fall with us and see what he can do,” Lee added.

Lee is hopeful that Meredith will be able to get a medical redshirt from the previous season. He has not received an official word yet, but the anticipation is that he should gain another year of eligibility.

So even though Clemson has some shoes to fill in the infield, a priority this offseason is to get these three players healthy - and keep them healthy.

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