ST. LOUIS – Nick Vichio barely got to enjoy his freshman year of college baseball before bad news struck.
Vichio, who graduated from Glenbard East in 2013, noticed discomfort in his throwing arm in the fall, but pitched through the pain to make his debut for St. Louis University during the spring season. The right-handed hurler later discovered he tore his labrum and is currently rehabbing after surgery in early May.
He is taking off the whole summer from baseball activities and is currently going to physical therapy three to four times a week. Doctors told him that he should be able to return to action right around the start of the spring season in mid-February.
Vichio still managed to make nine relief appearances and had a 5.40 ERA with four strikeouts, four walks and 19 hits allowed in 13 1/3 innings. He had a 1-0 record.
"It was definitely cool getting to travel on planes to the different games," Vichio said. "It was a lot of fun, a lot different from high school. Harder, but it was fun."
The Billikens enjoyed plenty of success on the field, going 34-21 overall and winning the regular season title in the Atlantic 10 by going 18-7-1 in the conference. SLU went 2-2 in the A10 tournament, failing to make the postseason.
Vichio missed the end of the season, making his last appearance April 6 at St. Bonaventure. In that outing he gave up three runs on four hits while recording just two outs, a sign that something was wrong.
"I actually got hurt right at the beginning of the year in the fall, but I played through it until it got so bad that I couldn't play through it any more," Vichio said. "It was a big difference. I couldn't really last as long. I couldn't really throw more than one inning without feeling like my arm was falling off. I was throwing about 10 miles per hour slower."
In the shoulder, the labrum is a cuff of cartilage that provides support in the joint. Since the shoulder has a wide range of movement compared to other joints in the body, it is susceptible to injury and labrum tears are not uncommon among pitchers.
Having never had any arm problems before, Vichio didn't know what he was feeling or what to do. He received some advice from coaches and older players on the Billikens that had gone through similar injuries.
Vichio hopes to avoid redshirting this upcoming season, but it remains a possibility if the rehab process doesn't go as planned. Returning to the field is his top priority at the moment.
"My definite No. 1 goal is getting back to next year so I'm not going to have to redshirt," Vichio said. "I want to be able to play most of the season."
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