Flanagan comes back from injury stronger than ever
Quinn Flanagan was dealing through his sophomore season in high school at Corona del Sol High School, as the Chandler native posted a 1.56 ERA over 49.1 innings with 56 strikeouts and six wins earned.
As he was making the first start of his junior season the following year, he felt something pop in his right arm. Flanagan later found out he tore a ligament in his elbow and would have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
The typical rehabilitation time for a baseball player to recover from this surgery is a little over a year. It took Flanagan three years of recovery time before he was able to step on the mound and pitch again.
“Not this long, no,” Flanagan, now an Arizona baseball freshman, said when asked if he thought it would take him this long to get back to full strength. “I knew it was going to take a while, you know? I have to take my time with it, but I wasn’t expecting this many setbacks.”
Almost three years to the day of Flanagan suffering this injury in his junior year of high school, he returned to the mound, this time in an Arizona Wildcats uniform on Feb. 17. He struggled early on, allowing two runs in the first inning, but quickly settled down, throwing three-straight scoreless innings before his afternoon was done. Flanagan finished the game throwing four innings, having allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits with four strikeouts and zero walks.
“I’m really proud of him,” head coach Jay Johnson said that day. “There were some points along the way where you go ‘Man, I don’t know if he’s going to make it back,’ and he just kept working.”
Fast-forward five starts into the season, and Flanagan is quickly making a name for himself as one of the most reliable starting pitchers on this Arizona baseball team. He has thrown 24 innings to the tune of a 1.13 ERA, good for sixth in the Pac-12. He has a perfect 3-0 record, and opponents are hitting just .218 off him this year.
Flanagan is coming off arguably the most impressive performance any Wildcat has showcased this season, throwing a complete game shutout against Utah on March 16.
“Unbelievable. I wanted to cry for him because of how proud of him I was,” teammate Cameron Cannon said following this performance. “He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, and in beginning of fall, if you would have said he was going to be a starter for us, I wouldn’t have believed it. He’s worked his butt off every single day for us, and he’s put in the time and work for us, and it’s showing out on the field.”
There's still a long way to go in conference play, but the redshirt freshman has certainly put his name on the map so far. If the Wildcats want to make another run at the NCAA tournament this season, they’ll likely need Flanagan to continue this type of play.
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