Tennessee weekend starting pitcher Chase Dollander made his first appearance in over two weeks in the Vols’, 14-1, win over Alabama A&M Tuesday.
“It felt good,” Dollander said. “I’ve been anticipating those for 17 days now, and it feels really good to get back out there. My arm felt good and everything felt really good so that’s all I can really ask for.”
The Georgia Southern transfer relieved Tennessee starter Zander Sechrist with nobody on and one out in the second inning.
Dollander didn’t have any trouble with the Bulldogs in the 0.2 innings pitched in his return. The right-handed pitcher retired Tim Dixon via line out before Dillon Roop lined a single into right field.
The sophomore didn’t allow Roop to reach scoring position, striking out Damian Thomas to end the second inning.
Dollander didn’t come back out for the third inning, throwing just nine pitches in his first outing since returning from injury.
“(Our objective) Was to get 10 or less pitches and to get two outs,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said. “Just to get him out there and in game action, but have him fresh so we can regroup and plan what we want to do that rest of the weekend.”
Velocity wasn’t an issue for Dollander as the sophomore’s fastball sat 96-97 mph. Command wasn’t an issue either as the Georgia Southern transfer threw six strikes and three balls.
Dollander hadn’t pitched in 17 days since Alabama’s Zane Denton lined a pitch off the sophomore’s arm in the first inning of Tennessee’s game two win over the Crimson Tide.
The Vols avoided a fracture in the talented right-handers throwing arm but Dollander had yet to make his return from the deep bone bruise.
Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said Dollander was progressing last week and that they “want to use him” against Auburn. However, Dollander wasn’t on the active roster last weekend against the Tigers.
What have the last 17 days been like for the talented right-hander?
“Awful,” Dollander said. “I wouldn’t say awful. I’ve just really wanted to get back as fast as I can and with the help of Woody (Jeff Wood), our trainer, that has been possible and I really didn’t think I’d be back this early but I’ll take what I can get.”
What Tennessee and Vitello’s plan for Dollander this weekend at Kentucky is still to be determined. The Vols open the three-game series in Lexington on Thursday night. It is the first time this season that Tennessee has played a Thursday through Saturday series.
Vitello said usual Friday night starter Chase Burns will move up a night and start on Thursday night but that the pitching plan for the rest of the weekend is still to be determined. The fifth year head coach did say that Dollander starting was on the table.
“It’s an option,” Vitello said. “I know he’s a guy too — after starts not after relief appearances — you check in with him the next day and sometimes he feels great, sometimes he feels sore so he will definitely start again before the season’s over I can tell you that, but we’ll kind of regroup tomorrow.”
Tennessee and Kentucky open the