Miami Hurricanes pitcher Andy Suarez was set to make his second start of the season Friday night in a matchup against rival Florida Gators at Alfred McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
But the staff ace was out before the game even started, scratched from the lineup after a potential oblique strain during his pre-game bullpen warmup.
In an odd turn of events, Gators right-hander Logan Shore was also pulled from the game due to injury after only nine pitches.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where both starting pitchers were out within five minutes,” Hurricanes head coach Jim Morris said.
Suarez will visit team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan on Monday, according to Morris, but until then, no one is sure of the extent of the injury.
“Hopefully everything will be good and he won’t miss too much time,” Morris said.
Last summer, Suarez was selected 57th overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2014 MLB Draft. Just a few rounds later, Washington selected Suarez’s center fielder and Hurricane teammate Dale Carey.
Analysts around the game figured it was a foregone conclusion that Suarez would sign. After all, he didn’t sign when he was drafted out of high school, and he tore his labrum soon after. Plus, Washington offered him almost a million dollars.
Nonetheless, Suarez told Morris the week before the signing deadline that he would be returning. Morris, as surprised as anyone, expected Suarez to sign even after his pitcher alerted him of his intentions to stay at Miami.
“We got a big break with Suarez deciding to come back,” Morris said. “He’s No. 1 in our rotation, and he turned down more money than any other player in the draft. I’m happy to have him back.”
The decision to return was not always clear for the Hurricanes starting pitcher.
“The first few weeks after I was drafted, I didn’t know [if I was coming back],” Suarez said. “Probably a week before the deadline, I had a feeling I would be coming back.”
Last year, Suarez compiled a 6-3 record with a 2.95 ERA and led Miami in innings pitched. He also struck out 87 batters while only allowing 15 walks. His two-fold combination of accuracy and durability was attractive to pro scouts, and also earned him third-team All-ACC recognition.
Suarez, who is a redshirt junior, will graduate this spring with a degree in criminology. Being able to graduate from UM played a role in his decision.
“I’m glad I am back. I am graduating this year, so it’s a win-win for me,” he said.
This season, Suarez has returned to Coral Gables as the undisputed ace of the pitching staff. Suarez, a built 6-1 left-handed pitcher, is the only returning member from last year’s rotation.
While some have doubted his decision to return, this is not Suarez’s first time ignoring the allure of professional play.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Suarez, who pitched locally at Christopher Columbus High School, in the ninth round of the 2011 MLB Draft. People around the Blue Jays organization expected Suarez to sign; yet, he did not.
Suarez was a three-time All-Dade First team pitcher, two-time All-Florida First team pitcher, and a consensus top pitching prospect in South Florida following his senior campaign at Columbus.
Suarez opted for school instead of dollars and decided to suit up in green and orange for the University of Miami.
Now, Suarez has again spurned the pro ranks in order to return to Coral Gables. This year, Suarez leads a team featuring preseason All-Americans Zack Collins and Bryan Garcia and tantalizing talents like Willie Abreu.
“We are excited about the club,” Morris said. “We have a unique combination of talent this year.”
Lyssa Goldberg and AJ Ricketts contributed to this report.