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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Defense Decater: Decater’s glove makes him ‘web gem’ threat

    Jake Lacey/ Arizona Daily Wildcat 

baseball versus Loyola Marimont
    Jake Lacey
    Jake Lacey/ Arizona Daily Wildcat baseball versus Loyola Marimont

    After spending his first three seasons with the Arizona baseball team battered and bruised, one might think that Arizona senior left fielder Derek Decater, the team’s primary designated hitter last season, would avoid stepping onto the field at all costs, at least as a preventative measure.

    But after recovering from three surgeries so far as a Wildcat – on his throwing shoulder, a herniated disk in his back and a pulled hamstring – Decater has worked his way back to a spot in the team’s starting outfield after starting 26 games last year predominantly as a DH.

    And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

    “”He’s always been an exceptional outfielder,”” said Arizona head coach Andy Lopez, noting Decater’s nickname is “”Tarp”” because of the way he is able to cover the field.

    “”I’ve always taken a lot of pride in playing defense,”” said Decater, who, save for a slightly sprained ankle, is currently injury-free. “”I’m from Seattle, so I used to watch Ken Griffey Jr. just track down stuff all the time. I always thought that was awesome – just being able to run down a fly ball in the gap that should be a double and taking it away from somebody.””

    He added that although great defensive plays don’t attract as much attention, he’d rather have a “”web gem”” over a long ball any day.

    “”Nowadays, baseball has changed so much,”” Decater said. “”Now it’s all about hitting a home run, hitting a double. It’s all about hitting for power. It just trickles down from the big leagues.

    “”I don’t think defense is really as big as it should be anymore.””

    Decater was part of Lopez’s first recruiting class, the same class as former Wildcats Trevor Crowe, Nick Hundley, Chris Frey and Jordan Brown, who left after their junior seasons for the Major League Baseball draft. Perhaps if his injuries had not been a factor, Decater might have joined them.

    “”When he came here four years ago with that class that just left, he really was having a better freshman year than Trevor Crowe and Brad Boyer,”” Lopez said. “”He looked like the freshman that was going to be the guy that took off. Then he got hurt and he’s been hurt ever since.””

    Decater hit .299 while accumulating four home runs and 32 RBIs during his freshman campaign.

    Lopez said Decater, one of only two seniors on this season’s roster, provides leadership both on and off the field.

    “”I’m always pulling for the older guys – the juniors and seniors, I’m always hoping that they have great years,”” Lopez said. “”You’re really hoping that the juniors and seniors are having a great year because then the leadership just falls into place.””

    Decater, who graduates in December with a degree in physiology, said he’s interested in attending chiropractic school. After all the injuries he has endured, it only seems fitting.

    “”I was like ‘My back sucks. This sucks. I don’t want anyone to go through this again,'”” Decater said. “”Or if things go awesome out here, who knows (what might happen in the draft)?””

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