Kentucky baseball’s Collett to return from injury


T.J. Collett sprints to first base during the game against Xavier University on Feb. 20, 0281, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather |Staff.

Hailey Peters

The second-longest hitting streak for any player on the 2018 Kentucky baseball’s roster was held by a designated hitter who was out for the second half of the season. This year, after surgery, physical therapy and training, T.J. Collett is ready to return to the leaderboards.

“I feel like I’m already back,” Collett said about his preparation to not slow down after being out longer than most of his teammates. “I feel 100 percent. I’ve been playing in all the scrimmages this spring and I feel great. The main thing is just getting comfortable again. I’m just doing my thing, and not really thinking about [my injury] too much.”

Collett is a junior first baseman who hails from Terre Haute, Indiana. Out of high school, he was drafted in the 40th MLB round by the Minnesota Twins, but instead decided to enroll at UK and play first base. Despite his position, he mostly appeared as designated hitter for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In 2018, he started in 32 of the first 34 games and stunned the scoreboards with his skill.

“T.J. is back this year after his injury,” head coach Nick Mingione said. “He missed the last 20 games last year and still had 10 home runs. We’re very happy to have him back.”

In the short amount of games at bat, Collett hit .304 with 27 runs. He had a hit in 21 of his first 25 games, and a hitting streak that reached 13 before he had to be out of the game. After 10 multiple-RBI games and nine multiple-hit games, Collett’s fellow teammates were sad to see him out.

“We could’ve really used him there in the end and in the SEC tournament,” said graduate student catcher Marshall Gei. “We’re all happy he’s back and feeling better than ever, and fingers crossed he doesn’t end up hurt again this year. The team’s offense really feels it whenever he’s gone.”

Last season was not the first time that Collett experienced a knee injury. In his first season playing for Kentucky, he was out for the first part of the season as result of ongoing rehabilitation. For that season, he spent his time sitting out as a first base coach to help his teammates.

“It’s funny, I think I’ve played one full season between being in the last 20 in 2017 and being out the last 20 of last year,” Collett said. “I’ve been working a lot on defense and getting back into shape and everything like that, so I think I’m ready and am definitely excited to play the whole time this year.”