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Tony Vitello Updates Status Of Tennessee Star Third Baseman

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball’s offense has been fantastic this season and particularly good the last two weeks where they’ve combined to score 61 runs in its last six SEC games.

The most impressive part of it is that the Vols have done it without star third baseman Billy Amick who had an appendectomy just over two weeks ago.

The recovery has sidelined one of the SEC’s best hitters but there’s a possibility he could return to the field this weekend as Tennessee prepares to host defending National Champion LSU at Lindsey Nelson Stadium this weekend.

“I think so,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said on whether Amick could return this weekend. “I mean, he hasn’t gotten to the point where he’s taken a bunch of swings yet. The defensive part is ahead of the offensive part. You’d like to at least be able to put him on the weekend roster, so it’s an option if he gets to that point.”

Amick traveled to Auburn last weekend for the Vols’ three-game series against Auburn but wasn’t on Tennessee’s active roster.

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Vitello said that the Clemson transfer would meet with team doctor Chris Klenck following Tuesday night’s win over Alabama A&M. While Amick is getting closer to returning to the field, Tennessee isn’t looking to be rash in trying to get its star back on the field.

“It is still halfway point,” Vitello said. “All these games are valuable, but it is still halfway point of SEC play.”

A big reason why Tennessee doesn’t have to speed up Amick’s recovery is because of how well the Vols’ offense has been while Amick is out. Particularly the versatile Dalton Bargo.

Bargo, who Vitello called Tennessee’s Ben Zobrist, is spending most of his season in the outfield or at designated hitter but moved to third base the last two weeks and is consistently producing at the plate.

“You’ve got other guys playing well, and you also look to your right, and you’ve got guys where you’re like, ‘Man, I think this guy could get it down for us, but other guys are [performing],” Vitello said. “I mean, you’ve got other guys that are anxious for those opportunities and are taking advantage of them. I think we’ve got some capable guys, so there is no point in rushing him back.

It is nice to know … I mean, to lose a guy like that … I don’t think we have a best player, but at times he’s been our best player on both sides of the ball. So to lose him like that and be able to win some games has been huge.”

In those six SEC games, Bargo is hitting seven-of-22 (.318) with four home runs and eight RBIs while also playing strong defense at the hot corner.

First pitch for Tennessee baseball’s (27-6, 7-5 SEC) weekend series against LSU (22-12, 3-9 SEC) is at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPNU is broadcasting the game.

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