Tennessee Utility Man Poised To Return From Injury At SEC Tournament

by -

Tennessee baseball utility man Jared Dickey is poised to return from injury this week at the SEC Tournament with Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello saying Dickey would be active in Hoover.

“He’s doing everything possible,” Vitello said Tuesday. “We took him to cryotherapy, holy cow is that cold. He has a boot he can wear and still make athletic movements. We’ve exhausted everything and he’s really put attention to detail too it and it has all paid off is why I’m telling you. I think he’s in a really good spot right now. So he’s on t he active roster for this tournament. It’ll be 50/50 on decision making if you ask me my opinion on it myself. The other coaches will have input too so we’ll try to pick the best time to do it, but maybe he makes an appearance this weekend. If not I think he’ll be available for the regional.”

While Vitello left it undecided on whether Dickey would make his return this week, the redshirt-freshman posted a hype video on his Instagram Tuesday night implying he is returning this week.

“Guess who’s back,” Dickey captioned the post while giving video credit to Tennessee freshman catcher Ryan Miller.

Dickey was fantastic early in the season, hitting over .600 over two weeks into the season. The second-year Vol earned a role on the 2022 Tennessee team due to his strong hitting numbers, posting a .370 batting average with 16 extra-base hits, seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 34 games.

The Mount Juliet, Tennessee native earned most his playing time as a designated hitter while earning limited reps at catcher and the corner outfield spots.

More From RTI: Tony Vitello Details Tennessee Baseball’s Niche In The SEC

Dickey — who’s lost 70 pounds since arriving on Tennessee’s campus  — first suffered a deep bone bruise in his foot while running the bases against Ole Miss. The left-handed bat earned one pinch hit the week later at Vanderbilt and was available as a bat the next three weekends before re-aggravating the injury. Dickey hasn’t played since game two of Tennessee’s weekend series at Florida in late April.

While Dickey is available this weekend, it could be in a limited — batting only — role like he had between the Ole Miss and Florida series.

“I do think there will be some limitations defensively and baserunning,” Vitello said. “But as we know Jared in the box is a good weapon for us. I think everyone is anxious to see — he’s always smiling so it’s in the dugout, but it was fun to watch him play during that period because of the whole story and who he is. I think the guys are kind of yearning for that a little bit too.”

Tennessee struggled to find consistent offensive production at designated hitter following Dickey’s injury, freshman Blake Burke has seized that role as of late, hitting 10-of-27 (.370) with four home runs the last seven games on his way to earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors.

The Vols are set to open postseason play Wednesday night at approximately 9 p.m. ET, but the first of four scheduled games Wednesday began at 1:45 ET, over two hours after the scheduled start time.

Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.