Just when TCU thought its pitching staff was completely healthy for the first time in more than a month, another setback has hindered the Horned Frogs.
TCU's most dominant and reliable pitcher this season, Kyle Winkler, will not pitch this week at the Mountain West Conference tournament to rest his arm due to some tenderness. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said Winkler is not injured, and would have likely pitched if the NCAA Regional tournament started this week. Winkler (8-2) pitched at New Mexico last Thursday, holding the Lobos to three hits and no runs in 4 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Winkler skipped his previous start to rest his arm. Winkler leads the team with a 1.40 ERA in 90 innings pitched this season.
Top-seeded TCU (40-15) opens the MWC tournament at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Tony Gwynn Stadium against the lowest-seeded team to advance from Tuesday's first round. Matt Purke (5-1) will start for the second time since developing shoulder soreness April 16 at San Diego State. Purke had four strikeouts in three innings last Thursday against New Mexico before Winkler took over on the mound. The 10th-ranked Frogs' usual Game 3 starter Steven Maxwell (5-0) has not pitched since developing biceps soreness April 24. He threw batting practice Monday, but his availability for the MWC tournament is questionable. Andrew Mitchell (4-1) is slated to start Thursday and Erik Miller (6-6) will likely start Friday.
-- Stefan Stevenson