Rounding the Bases with Scott Silverstein
If there is a feel-good story for the Virginia baseball team this season, it is that of Scott Silverstein. The junior left-handed pitcher was a high-profile recruit coming out of high school, but injuries derailed his early career at UVa. He was limited to just batting and playing in the field as a freshman and after shoulder surgery a year ago, he did not play at all as a sophomore. His rehab has been a long, arduous process, but Silverstein is finally starting to see some positive results. He received his first game action on the mound for the Cavaliers on Feb. 27 vs. East Carolina, firing a scoreless inning. This weekend Silverstein will be in the bullpen as Virginia travels to fourth-ranked Clemson. He sat down recently to discuss his road back to the mound and many other issues.
You didn’t step on the mound in your first two years at UVa. Tell us about the injury that kept you off the field.
Silverstein: Coming out of my senior season throwing less than 10 innings I knew something was wrong. I thought I could just wait it out but Coach [Kuhn] called me and said maybe the doctor should look at it and scope it out so we did. The doctor said if he found something he was going to fix it, and sure enough he found a type two slap tear of the labrum. Once I started throwing I never really had any good days. They always tell you it’s going to be up and down but I never really had much up. I had it injected with cortisone and that gave me a little bit of success, but then it kind of dipped back down. I took a whole summer off, got another cortisone shot and didn’t really have much success then. When I got back to pitching I felt good, took a week off, pitched again and didn’t feel so good. The last time I pitched I knew I needed to have it done again. That was devastating.
Your second surgery was with Dr. Andrews – a big name in sports medicine. Did you feel good going into your second procedure knowing he was working on your shoulder?
Silverstein: Dr. Andrews trained under Dr. McCue so that’s how I got in to see him and I was definitely fortunate to get to see him. The first time I was down there I worked with Brandon Webb before his surgery. I already knew [Dr. Andrews] was a big deal, but after that I had an idea that this was going to be something special. I definitely was confident going into it. It was just tough being confident knowing that nothing is guaranteed, especially after the first surgery.
Did your time away from the mound allow you to be a student of the game?
Silverstein: I picked up a lot. There was a lot I didn’t know about pitching and about the evolution of the game from high school to college. There were a lot of little nuances in pitching that I didn’t know, a lot of little situations that I hadn’t thought of before I had a chance to sit back and watch others do first.
Did you pick up on those nuances from watching other guys on the hill or just working with Coach Kuhn?
Silverstein: He is definitely a good professor of the game. I got to sit back and watch my peers play every week – guys like Danny Hultzen, Andrew Carraway and Matt Packer – and going to Omaha and getting that experience and getting to watch them perform and handle that kind of pressure with people watching and in front of the cameras. Seeing how they went about their business was definitely helpful.
How did it feel to return to the mound against East Carolina?
Silverstein: It’s been a while and I was itching to get back out there at my first opportunity. I was definitely nervous. It was something I’d never had before. I’d never pitched in a college game. I never had that kind of build up before a game. It was so long in the making. I was definitely shaking a little bit and definitely nervous but I was just happy to go out there and throw strikes.
Baseball players tend to be superstitious people – especially pitchers. Do you have any superstitions?
Silverstein: I try to stay away from it because then if it doesn’t work there’s nothing to do. I just try to feel good and if I can start feeling good it will fall into place for me.
Do you have a favorite pregame meal?
Silverstein: I try to eat pasta the day before a game. I don’t know if you’re supposed to or not, but I like it. I like to eat chicken, and JPJ has decent food.
Are you looking forward to any particular series this season or are you taking it one game at a time?
Silverstein: I am looking forward to Clemson – my first opportunity to hopefully be on the docket for an ACC series. That will be exciting after sitting back and having to watch for so long. Finally getting the chance to pitch against a team in our conference would be awesome.
The ACC is a tough baseball conference. What do you expect out of Virginia in league play this year?
Silverstein: I think we will do well. I think we have really good team in all areas. We can definitely pitch. With our defense we are throwing guys in every different position and everybody is coming through for us. Our offense has been scoring runs left and right. It is just a matter of time before we can finally put solid innings together every inning of every game. I expect big things from this team.
You don’t spend ALL your time on the field. What are you studying?
Silverstein: I am an American Studies major. I like history and particularly American History and that’s the basic route for it. I don’t know if I will try to teach. I guess we will have to see what happens.
Rumor has it that you and Danny Hultzen goof around and prank each other with some regularity. What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled on him?
Silverstein: We joke about taking some of his equipment because he’s a little superstitious and try to hide it from him. We definitely wrestle a lot – sneak attack wrestling. We have broken a few couches in our apartment which is unfortunate and cost us a bit of money.