July 25, 2013
Former Lima Locos left-hander Garrick Whittle keeps moving forward.
At this point, he’s learned to have faith and take it one day at a time.
It was just two years ago when Whittle was a sophomore at Morehead State that he discovered a small lump on his back.
He wasn’t going to worry about it, though.
Then, the lump started to grow.
It turned out to be a tumor, which needed to be removed.
After the surgery, he heard from his father, who had spoken to the doctor.
It was cancerous.
Whittle continued to pray with his family that all would turn out for the best.
His doctors in his hometown of Danville, Ky., recommended that his second surgery should be at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati. This surgery would check for aggressive cancer cells. If they were found, there would be a line of chemotherapy treatments.
Nothing was found.
“They went in and couldn’t find a single cancer cell in any of the tissue they took out,” Whittle said. “It was a blessing that it hadn’t spread at all.”
That spring he returned to the Morehead State mound and worked his way all the way to the No. 1 spot in the rotation as a junior.
His success carried over to the Lima Locos last summer. He went from the Locos’ bullpen to the rotation and pitched well in both roles.
He finished 1-1 with a 2.22 ERA. He had 25 strikeouts in 24 innings.
This year Whittle returned to the Eagles for his senior season. He was in line to be one of the top lefties out of the Morehead State bullpen.
Whittle made three appearances this spring before he went in for his two-year checkup in April.
“I got a call and had two lumps in my left lung,” he said. “My first thought was, ‘Don’t let me go through this again.’ It was overwhelming at first with all I went through two years ago.”
When Whittle heard the news, he quickly returned to his dorm room.
“The first thing I did was hit my knees and pray,” Whittle said. “At that point, I got a call of peace. God said it would be O.K. He worked it out last time. It would be all part of His plan.”
Whittle would need surgery to remove the lumps. That ended his season after only six appearances.
On April 29 this year, he had the two lumps removed from his lung at the University of Kentucky Hospital.
He was told it didn’t look good.
“Based on the scans, it was probably cancerous. In my mind, I was expecting the worse,” Whittle said.
Then, the news came back.
The lumps were not cancerous.
It turned out it was an infection.
“It was a blessing,” Whittle said.
Whittle then applied for a medical red-shirt year to play one more season of baseball.
The NCAA denied his request to play at Morehead State because one of his six appearances came just past the midway point in the season.
He then applied to the NAIA for a medical red-shirt year.
Two weeks ago, his red-shirt final season was approved. He was accepted to play his final season at NAIA Union College (Ky.). Union’s assistant coach is Daniel Furuto, Whittle’s head coach with the Locos last summer.
Whittle will also play with his brother, Casey, at Union. Whittle will graduate from Union with a computer science degree. He then plans to return to Morehead State to graduate with a math degree.
“Wow,” he said. “I look back on everything and now I can play with my brother. It was God’s plan.”
Whittle is a competitor and is passionate about baseball, but he said there’s a bigger plan for his returning to the mound at Union.
“God gave me this story to share it,” Whittle said. “That’s what I plan on doing. That’s my first priority. … With everything I’ve been through, baseball is not number one. Now I want to give people hope.”