Two Alabama baseball pitchers are continuing to make their way back this preseason after returning to the mound in 2018.

Redshirt sophomore Garret Rukes and redshirt junior Brock Love each had their 2017 seasons cut short by Tommy John surgery on their elbows, but were able to pitch last spring. This year could be another step forward for them.

“You know Rukes, his return last year was abnormal, how quickly he was able to get on the mound and show pitchability,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “Brock’s was more normal and I think, at times, Brock felt like he was behind because Garret was ahead of where he should be.”

Love was sidelined in March 2017 before having surgery; Rukes followed two weeks later. Despite being injured later, Rukes returned and started 13 games last season, including all 10 SEC weekends. He pitched 30 total innings with a 3.60 earned run average, striking out 24 while giving up 26 hits and 14 walks. Rukes is one of just three lefty pitchers on the roster, which should provide him with a role either as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Love dealt with other injuries in 2018 and was slower to return, making just six appearances for 8 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow an earned run, striking out 10. He threw just 1 1/3 innings against SEC opponents.

“It was good for Brock to get out on the mound this year, good for him to have some time out this summer, and good for him to get in a routine this year,” Bohannon said. “Brock, arguably, has some of the best stuff on our team and he’s an older guy with big stuff that could have a big impact for us this year. He’s going to pitch a lot.”

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