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Tennessee Baseball Pitcher Having Arm Surgery On Tuesday

AJ Russell pitches against LSU in the SEC Tournament // Photo via UT Athletics Kate Luffman

Tennessee right-handed pitcher AJ Russell is undergoing Tommy John surgery on Tuesday morning, GoVols247’s Ben McKee first reported and multiple sources confirmed to RTI on Monday night.

Russell has battled forearm soreness for much of the season. He first dealt with the soreness during the Ole Miss series and it reared his ugly head again after he returned to the mound for two brief appearances during the SEC Tournament.

The sophomore right-handed pitcher was not active for either the Knoxville Regional or Super Regional and Tony Vitello shared last week that Russell was unlikely to pitch again this season.

Tommy John surgery is an elbow surgery that is extremely common for baseball players— particularly pitchers. With young pitchers throwing with higher velocity, most end up having the surgery. Timetable for a return to the mound varies but is most often between 12 and 18 months. That means that Russell could miss the entirety of the 2025 season after missing most of the 2024 season.

More From RTI: Tennessee Baseball’s College World Series Schedule

Russell has traveled with Tennessee’s team all season despite being inactive for most weekend series this season and plans on traveling with the team to Omaha for the College World Series.

“It’s kind of Coach Russell or Coach AJ for now kind of as Billy did for a couple weeks there,” Vitello said last week. “And I don’t mean make light of health or anything like that. I mean he’s still involved in practice and things like that right now, but he’s kind of assumed a role in the dugout where he takes on some other duties and to me I enjoy being around him.”

A highly talented right-handed pitcher, Russell started the season as Tennessee’s Friday night starter and dazzled in the Vols’ season opening win over Texas Tech.

Russell’s original injury looked debilitating to Tennessee’s staff at the time it occurred. However, Frank Anderson’s staff has made serious improvements over the course of the season thanks to a number of pitchers including AJ Causey, Aaron Combs and Zander Sechrist.

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