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Sindelar is facing lost year

Surgery knocks out the Springstead grad.

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


Bobby Sindelar always knew he was indestructible. Just like every other teenager, especially those who have competed in sports at a high level.

A former Springstead High pitching standout and a redshirt freshman for the Florida Gators, he learned the limits of his invincibility one day last summer, when that smoldering burn in his left shoulder became something more than a bother.

"It got to the point when I went to throw I was in a lot of pain," he said. "I couldn't throw it 100 feet without dropping to one knee."

Sindelar, 19, attempted to rehabilitate the shoulder with exercise under the supervision of team trainer Dave Werner, but when it continued to "feel real awkward" he was scheduled for an MRI.

"(Pain) had started started midseason last year," Sindelar said. "I tried not to pay attention, but it got worse. It just grew.

"Some can pitch with it, but will have discomfort, depending on the way you pitch. The way I pitched, I couldn't."

The MRI image was clear. Sindelar had a slight tear of his rotator cuff and a loose shoulder capsule. He had surgery on Nov. 27 to correct the problems and is now rehabilitating the shoulder.

The injury caught Sindelar off guard because he considered himself a "rubber-armed" pitcher in high school. He was named Sunshine Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, third team all-state, All-Suncoast second team and first team All-North Suncoast as a senior, when he finished 7-3 with a 2.60 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 772/3 innings.

Sindelar's lost season is more frustrating because he did not play at all last season. He participated in drills with the Gators and dressed for home games, but was not used and eventually red-shirted.

He's still a familiar face around McKethan Field, but now he's seen more in the training room than in the dugout.

"The hardest part is losing contact with the team," Florida coach Andy Lopez said. "Right now we're all kind of focusing and playing five days a week and he can't be part of that aspect."

Lopez said he had expected Sindelar to compete for time in the bullpen this season. Now he'll watch Sindelar's rehab just like the three other Gators who suffered season-ending injuries last year.

"We know it's going to be a full-year deal," Lopez said. "I know he's nowhere near throwing the ball right now."

Sindelar said he could begin tossing sometime in mid-April, or in a worst-case scenario mid-August, "depending on how the body takes the surgery."

Anticipation of that next pitch, and whether it will drop him to his knees, is in his mind.

"If I don't come out of surgery okay, then we have to go see what we can do next," he said. "It was like the coaches told me: get surgery, get the arm back in shape and see you next year."

Lopez said Sindelar will be automatically granted a medical redshirt year by the NCAA, but Sindelar is not sure whether he wants to spend six years in Gainesville.

"We'll have to discuss it," he said.

For now, Sindelar concentrates on tedious exercises and tries not to think about the season he thought he would be having for the Gators.

"I guess you have to have heart and determination to come back, and I think I have them," he said. "I'll come out if this."

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