Auburn baseball has been without its’ most crucial arm for over two months.
By being last season’s only returning weekend starter, Joseph Gonzalez was expected to be Auburn’s ace for the weekend rotation in 2023. However, he has only made one start this season, which resulted in a 6-1 win by the Tigers over Indiana on Feb. 18.
Since then, he has battled shoulder issues that have kept him from pitching any further this season. Wednesday, head coach Butch Thompson provided an update that Auburn fans were hoping not to hear.
After showing signs of progress, Gonzalez’s shoulder soreness has returned. With just four weekend series’ remaining, Thompson feels that it is important to focus on getting Gonzalez back to 100% playing shape, meaning that Gonzalez is expected to be shut down for the remainder of the season.
“For (Gonzalez) it was the last 10 percent,” Thompson said this week of Gonzalez. “It was kind of a carbon copy of ramping him up the first time. Trying to get him ready and doing it a second time. I don’t see how he can get back in the timeframe of the regular season. We’ll get Joseph back to the docs.”
Gonzalez has been working with the acclaimed Dr. James Andrews in an effort to get back into his form. Thompson also shares that the inability to play has been challenging for Gonzalez mentally.
“I think (Gonzalez) knows what he means to the ballclub. You have to continue to realize how much these guys love to play the game,” Thompson said. Working on this since opening day, I think it’s been hard on him. The first time he was frustrated. The second time he was kind of broken from a spirit standpoint.”
The Tigers prepare for a battle this weekend at No. 3 South Carolina. Thompson has revealed that Tommy Vail will get the nod on Friday night, while Christian Herberholz will pitch on Saturday. Sunday’s starter will be announced later in the series.