Surgery sidelines 3 USC baseball players for fall

Taylor Widener led South Carolina with nine saves last season. Allen Sharpe/Aiken Standard/File

Taylor Widener, South Carolina’s closer last season, is one of three Gamecocks baseball players who will miss fall practice after undergoing surgery.

Widener, outfielder Gene Cone and catcher Chris Cullen will miss the Gamecocks’ fall scrimmage season, which opens Friday. Cone had a ligament in his right thumb repaired, while Widener and Cullen, both right-handers, each underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery on their throwing arms. The procedure relieves compression or irritation in the ulnar nerve, which can cause weakness.

Widener and Cullen are expected to be shelved for three months, according to USC, although all three players are expected to be fully recovered when practice for the 2016 season opens in January.

Widener, a rising junior from Aiken, recorded nine saves last season, when he also went 1-5 with a 4.78 earned run average. Cone, a rising junior from Columbia, hit .257 with 12 runs batted in. Cullen, a true freshman, played last season at West Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga.

USC’s fall practice begins Friday with a 4 p.m. scrimmage at Carolina Stadium. Other scrimmages are set for Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. All are open to the public. The Gamecocks went 32-25 last season, missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.