Skip to main content

Tennessee pitcher AJ Russell to undergo Tommy John surgery  

On3 imageby:Eric Cain06/10/24


Tennessee sophomore right-handed pitcher AJ Russell is slated to undergo Tommy John surgery this week after an injury plagued 2024 campaign, sources confirmed to Volquest Monday night.

The talented 2025 MLB Draft prospect was limited to just 14.1 innings over six appearances with four starts in 2024. He posted an 0-1 record with a 5.02 ERA with 21 strikeouts to eight walks.

“Nothing specific as far as what the next step will be for him, but he’ll be unavailable,” Tony Vitello said last week ahead of super regional play. “So, it’s kind of coach Russell or coach AJ for now, kind of as Billy [Amick] did for a couple weeks there. And I don’t mean to make light of health or anything like that. He’s still involved in practice and things like that right now, but he’s kind of assumed a role in the dugout where he takes on some other duties, and to me, I enjoyed being around him.

“So, for now that’s his task and we’ll see where we get but more than likely [he] would be shut down for the year.”

Russell was not on the active roster for regional play when the Vols cruised with wins over No. 4 sed Northern Kentucky, No. 3 seed Indiana and No. 2 seed Southern Miss to punch their ticket to the program’s fourth-straight super regional appearance.

“No, he is not active and will probably get looked at again. We haven’t fast-forward there, but just based off playing catch, there’s no need to battle the soreness factor, step one. And then step two would be to make sure he’s good to go and should be throwing at all,” the coach said last weekend. “What he did for us on Sunday was great. I think it was obvious though, with his couple of outings, he did give us what – really been what his best version of himself is since Texas Tech. If anything, I think it alleviates the cloud – for these guys too [gestures to players] – not just him but others too. What is and what isn’t. So at least we are on one side of the fence than the other. Everyone knows we’d rather be fully on the other, but at least there is some clarity there. He won’t be active.”

When asked if that meant the hurler would be shut down for the remainder of the season, the coach said, ‘He’s going to get looked at and we will figure that out.’

Russell made his second appearance back from lengthy injury in Sunday’s Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament championship game against LSU – a game Tennessee won 4-3 over the Tigers – when the ESPN broadcast showed athletic trainer Jeff Wood checking on Russell in the Tennessee dugout after the first inning. He wasn’t scheduled to pitch more than one or maybe two innings in the contest. He surrendered a towering 471 foot home run off the bat of Jared Jones in the first inning as the Tigers took an early 1-0 lead after first corralling a pair of quick outs.

The hurler faced five batters, hit a batter and struck out two over 22 pitches during a scoreless relief appearance two weeks ago against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament – his first actin back on the mound. It was his first outing in 60 days after coming back from his second lengthy injury of the season.

It was his first action since leaving the top of the ninth inning in a game against Ole Miss on March 23, spanning a total of 60 days. It was the second lengthy absence of the season for the pitcher, as he also missed a total of 30 days earlier in the campaign as well.

Russell had made just six appearances on the injury-plagued season with four starts over a total of 14.1 innings where he’s surrendered eight runs off 12 hits with 21 strikeouts to eight walks, registering a 5.02 ERA.

No. 1 overall seed Tennessee takes on Florida State on Friday at 7 o’clock eastern time to begin its stint in the 2024 College World Series.

You may also like