Courtesy Arkansas athletics
Arkansas right-hander Keaton McKinney is still dealing with arm soreness.

Will Keaton McKinney’s injuries end his time at Arkansas?

Eric Bolin

SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at ericwbolin@gmail.com.

Question of the Day: Thursday, March 8, 2018

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Keaton McKinney, Arkansas baseball’s right-handed junior pitcher, was a beast for most of his freshman year. Nagging hip issues ruined his sophomore season to the tune of a 6.66 earned-run average. Arkansas finished last in the SEC.

Between the hip and a developing arm problem, McKinney elected to have Tommy John surgery instead of play in 2017. The issues were so bad, most of us who cover the team wondered what McKinney could bring in 2018, if anything.

But coach Dave Van Horn had McKinney in the starting rotation the opening weekend against Bucknell. Mostly it was to test McKinney out against harmless competition. The junior threw about 40 pitches and left after two innings of work. That was the plan. It had nothing to do with how he played.

However, McKinney did have arm soreness while pitching. It lingered for a couple of weeks. Basically, Van Horn feels it’s no sense to rush McKinney back. Arkansas is in the top 5 in the nation. They are loaded on the mound. The last thing Van Horn needs is force an injured McKinney back to the mound if he isn’t ready. Critics say Van Horn was wrong in letting McKinney continue to make starts deep into his freshman year even after it was clear the hip was a major issue.

Second-guessing is easy, though. Regardless of whether that was right or wrong then, Van Horn, McKinney and everyone involved in the decision to not pitch him now are handling it the right way. When he’s healthy, if he’s healthy, he will return and, Arkansas hopes, he will be the better for it.