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East pitcher overcomes health scare to lead team

By jhornberg
March 31, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.

Victoria East's Matthew Longoria throws a pitch during Friday night's game against Gregory-Portland at Riverside Stadium. ANGELI WRIGHT/AWRIGHT@VICAD.COM

Matt Longoria fought through searing pain throughout last season.

Slated to be the No. 2 starter, he started having shoulder problems set in, to a point where it forced him from the mound.

Worse, no one - not doctors, not trainers - knew exactly what it was.

And the pain persisted. He didn't find out until the fall what it was.

"I went to MD Anderson this year to find out what it was," said the senior pitcher for Victoria East. "Last year, I thought it was tendonitis, but the pain never went away."

It wasn't.

According to Longoria, they said it was a tumor in his shoulder. Fortunately, it was benign, and the senior pitcher for East has been pain free this season.

"I still have it, but they don't know exactly what it is, and it's not affecting my throwing," he said. "So, I just stayed off the mound and going through day-to-day treatments."

The growth is still in his shoulder. Doctors, Longoria said, are monitoring it to make sure doesn't pose a risk.

"I'm just going to keep getting treatment," he said. "If it gets too bad, I'll go back and get something done with it."

His plan is to deal with it for now.

"But my plan is to finish out this season pitching and playing third base."

And he's done so with gusto this season, leading the team in ERA at 1.95, with a 2-2 record in five starts this season. He's batting .393 in 21 games this season, driving in 21 RBIs for the Titans.

Most of all, he's taken on a leadership role. The senior is a three-year letterman, one of four seniors with experience from Memorial on the Titans. Coach Wes Kolle said he has turned to those players, and particularly Longoria, to set a good the example.

"He's a bulldog out there on the mound," Kolle said. "He gives us a chance to win out there. He lets the defense play behind him."

Longoria is just glad the worst is behind him. Of all the things he expected, potentially dealing with cancer as a teenager wasn't one of them.

"It was really scary," he said. "Going to MD Anderson at age 17, 18 years old isn't what I'd expected growing up.

"Finding out it wasn't cancerous was a big relief."

After dealing with a health scare of that magnitude, all Longoria wanted to do, he said, was play again.

"I wanted to be back on that mound," he said. "I wanted to be helping the team out and to get that win every time we play. Not for me, but for my team."



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