The baseball team’s redshirt junior looks to make full comeback.
In his collegiate career, redshirt-junior pitcher Dan Moller said he has learned not to take playing baseball for granted.
With a 6-foot 3-inch, 180-pound frame, Moller established himself as one of the better power pitchers in the Atlantic Ten Conference during his first two years in a Temple uniform.
“Being on the mound more in a collegiate setting definitely made me feel more comfortable out there,” Moller said. “I started to gain more confidence with every start.”
Moller was primarily a starter in his first year going 3-6 with a 6.62 ERA before taking on relieving duties on top of starting in his sophomore year. By Fall 2010, he was preparing for his third season with the Owls after playing during the summer.
“I played well in summer ball that year and I came back to Temple feeling really confident,” Moller said. “During fall training, I started noticing some arm trouble. I figured it was typical soreness and I took a week off.”
What Moller thought to be soreness in his left arm turned about to be a setback of a much higher degree.
“I picked up a ball and started to throw about a week later,” Moller said. “I noticed shooting pain in my elbow. I went to get it checked out just to make sure there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with it.”
The news Moller received was about as bad as it gets. He had a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, the injury that often requires UCL reconstruction, otherwise known as Tommy John surgery.
“I had two options,” Moller said. “I had the option of either rehabbing and missing my junior season, or getting the [Tommy John surgery] and redshirting.”
Moller took the latter option, and would spend the next year rehabilitating his elbow.
During Summer 2011, Moller participated in two hour physical therapy sessions four days a week, not knowing when or if he would ever compete competitively again.
“The rehab was tough,” Moller said. “The entire time I kept focusing on that light at the end of the tunnel in getting back to pitching someday. After going through all of that work, it’s satisfying to be able to get back on the mound.
By Fall 2011, Moller was back to throwing regularly again and had been progressing well. However, it was then when he started to hit a plateau.
“There was a time in the fall where I was kind of stuck at the point I was at with my progression,” Moller said. “I had improved before that, and I was stuck for a while.”
“I was concerned that this was going to be it,” Moller added. “I started to get a little worried, but I stuck with the program and kept doing rotator cuff work, and soon I got my velocity back up to where it had been before the surgery. I started to feel strong again around January of this year.”
Now as a redshirt junior, Moller is back pitching with the Owls. He is 0-3 with a 12.83 earned run average in five appearances thus far in his 2012 campaign. Despite the statistics, Moller is keeping a positive stance when looking at his season and progression thus far.
“I’m not a big numbers guy,” Moller said. “I don’t really pay attention to statistics or anything like that. I’ve had a few bad outings so far, but I feel good health-wise and I’m just trying to keep that up. If I stay healthy, I know I’ll be fine.”
Despite a rough start to the season, Moller has been putting in quality innings as of late. In his latest start against Binghamton on March 18, Moller wemt four innings gathering five strikeouts and allowing four earned runs.
“I’m starting to really feel strong now,” Moller said. “When I throw consecutive innings, I don’t feel the pain that I used to feel. I don’t feel as tired in a game and I’m getting more and more comfortable again. I’m pretty much back to where I was before.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.