Saluki outfielder battles arm injury in fight for playing time

Saluki+outfielder+battles+arm+injury+in+fight+for+playing+time

By Thomas Donley, @TdonleyDE

While the SIU baseball team has had a revolving door at the corner outfield spots, sophomore outfielder J.C. DeMuri has been playing through an arm injury for most of the season. 

DeMuri said a weakened back muscle has affected his left shoulder and bicep tendons, rendering him incapable of throwing at full strength.  

“I try to make the throws as best I can,” he said. “But it really limits how far and how hard I can throw the ball.” 

Advertisement

DeMuri first experienced the injury last summer while playing for the Springfield Sliders of the Prospect League. He re-aggravated it in SIU’s season-opening series at TCU, making a throw from the right field corner to second base in an 11-0 loss Feb. 15. 

He said the recurrence of the injury has been frustrating.

“It’s not very fun to put in so much work and have the same injury hold you back,” DeMuri said. 

He works out with trainer Ryan Schneider every morning, exercising with resistance bands and light weights to work his arm back to full strength. He said the injury took a few weeks to heal in the summer, but the recovery process has taken longer this spring because he has been playing through it. 

Although DeMuri throws left handed, he bats right handed — a rare combination in baseball. He said the injury does not affect his swing much. 

As one of seven Salukis to start in the outfield this season, DeMuri has played in 18 games this spring, starting 13 of them. He is batting .208 with one home run and seven RBIs. DeMuri has three hits in his last 23 at-bats, dating back to March 7.  He went 2-for-4 in his last start April 7. 

Eleven of DeMuri’s starts have come in the outfield. When healthy, assistant coach Ryan Strain said DeMuri can be a good defender, but his arm injury hampers his effectiveness. 

Infielders have to venture farther into the outfield than normal to cut his throws off. Strain said the Salukis cannot change their defensive positioning to compensate for this, and as a result, DeMuri has seen his playing time diminish.

“We can’t shorten him up just because his arm’s bothering him,” Strain said. “We just have to play him straight up, and that’s why sometimes he’s in there, and sometimes he’s not.” 

Sophomore center fielder Dyllin Mucha said he keeps DeMuri’s injury in mind when the two are playing alongside each other in the outfield. 

Strain said DeMuri’s attitude has been as positive as possible when dealing with a nagging injury. 

“It’s never easy when you get hurt,” Strain said. “He’s trying to work through it. I know he’s frustrated because it has taken a while. He’s handling it the best you possibly can.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

Advertisement