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Shark-bitten pitcher heals from attack

UNF baseball pitcher Clayton Shulz was hospitalized and recieved over 400 stiches after a shark attacked him in South Jacksonville Beach.

UNF baseball player Clayton Schulz is recovering from wounds he received to his left foot from a shark attack July 23, while surfing off of Jacksonville Beach. Schulz suffered cuts through four of the five ligaments on the top of his left foot from the attack. Doctors repaired the ligaments and tendons in surgery the day of the attack. Schulz needed over 400 stitches to initially close his wounds.

Dr. John Harris of Shands Jacksonville Hospital confirmed that it was in fact a shark that attacked Schulz after examining the wounds.

Schulz went back to the hospital Aug. 13 to receive optional skin graphs, which not only will make his foot look better but are also helpful in adding to the healing process.

“He had a choice to either get on or not,” said UNF baseball Head Coach Raymond “Smoke” Laval. “They said if you do, not only will it look better, but it would heal quicker. Well then that was a no-brainer.”

With his recovery going well, Schulz is expecting to start physical therapy as soon as possible. However, he knows he still has a long road to recovery.

Schulz has 10 stitches left and some major cuts, he said. As of now, he can’t walk, but doctors expect him to start putting some weight on it in coming weeks, he said.

The skin graphs should only take two weeks until he can put his foot in a shoe, Schulz said. When he can start putting pressure on it, then physical therapy can start.

Schulz is looking forward to getting back to work and starting therapy so he can start playing baseball again. He said he understands the work he is going to have to put in to get back to the level at which he was, but he looks forward to the challenge.

Despite the injuries he received, Schulz and his doctors feel confident he will be ready to go and fully recovered by the time the 2011 baseball season starts.

“I’m ready to go right now, but I can’t even walk, yet,” Schulz said. “I can’t wait to get out there and start working out. You never really know how my body reacts and how well my body heals.”

Laval also is confident Schulz will be back healthy and ready to go before the season starts.

“It’s just a matter of pain tolerance,” Laval said. “He may be able to even get on the mound here in mid to late October. They said it’s going to hurt for a little while, but they say it’s going to be fine. He’ll definitely be OK in January.”

Schulz, who has been surfing off the coast of Florida for most of his life, said he will not let this attack keep him out of the water. However, he wants to focus on baseball now and worry about getting back to surfing when he is fully recovered and has some free time.

“I’m not going to say that it won’t cross my mind,” Schulz said. “I’m going to focus on baseball and get through baseball season and then worry about that. I’m eventually going to get back in the water and get back to surfing.”

Schulz is a redshirt sophomore pitcher for the Ospreys. He spent the majority of last season coming out of the bullpen. However, he did win his only start of the season. He struck out 15 batters in the 30.2 innings he pitched throughout the 17 games in which he played.

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