Aug. 2, 2005
By Jay Hinton
Deseret Morning News
Pat Overholt can't afford to be complacent.
A lapse in his regimented workout and preparation routine could send him back down a difficult road he's already traveled. And for him, once was enough.
Overholt, a 2002 graduate of Brighton High, completed his freshman season at Santa Clara University in 2003. Less than two months later, while playing in the Alaska Summer League, he delivered a pitch and heard something pop in his elbow.
"I threw a pitch and knew something wasn't right," said Overholt, who was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team after compiling a 4-4 record with a team-high and freshman school record 10 saves. He also posted a team-low 3.00 ERA.
"It's a humbling experience. I was an all-American and then I went to Alaska and had six saves in two weeks. It was probably the high point of my career, and then it happened," he said. "It shows you how baseball injuries can humble you."
Overholt, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, saw three doctors and had numerous X-rays taken, but they were unable to notice the ligament tear.
He rehabbed his right elbow for seven months in preparation for his sophomore season at Santa Clara.
"Deep down I knew something was still wrong," he said. "I thought I was getting better, but once I went out and was pitching in the game I had the same feeling but worse."
It was during a simulated game two weeks before the season began in 2004 that the elbow went out again.
Overholt finally saw Dr. Lewis Yocum -- a surgeon renowned for his ability to perform ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, better known as Tommy John surgery -- and he immediately saw the tear and operated two weeks later.
"It was really scary," he said. "Even though the surgery is good, there is a 15 percent chance it won't work. That was the toughest mentally for me."
Eleven months, one to eight months earlier than expected and even recommended, Overholt was back on the mound.
His velocity was down, his confidence brittle and his numbers were inflated. He went just 2-7 with two saves while posting a 5.09 ERA for the Broncos.
Although his numbers were up, they were still good enough to attract the attention of the Philadelphia Phillies, who drafted the closer in the 22nd round of the June 2005 draft. They made him an offer good enough for him to forego a year in the Cape Cod League and his final two years at Santa Clara.
"It's always been a dream to get to the big leagues," he said. "They say the younger you are in the system and playing against the best players you have the best shot of getting to the big leagues."
Currently at Batavia (Low-A) in the New York-Penn League, Overholt is 0-2 with a 2.95 ERA and two saves. He's in the Top 20 in the league in strikeouts with 35 in just 21 1/3 innings, but that number is tops among non-starters. All of his 12 appearances have been in relief.
He's walking just one batter for every six strikeouts, which is a sign that his velocity back up to the mid- 90s and his control is returning.
"To this day I'm doing some of the same rehab procedure when I was a month-and-a-half out of surgery. Sitting in a training for 19 months is something I don't ever want to happen again," he said.
Still, the scar on his right elbow is a reminder to remain firm in his resolve.
"It's starting to feel like I never had it done. It's back to where I was originally," he said. "At the same time, whenever I say to myself or think I don't have to work as hard, all I have to do is look down at the scar and see the road that I have traveled."
Pat Overholt bio
Full name: Patrick Thomas Overholt
Birthdate: Feb. 8, 1984
Height: 6-1 Weight: 195
Bats: R Throws: R
High School: Brighton '02
College: Santa Clara '05
Professional: 22nd round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in the June 2005 draft