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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Keeping the Pace

    Losing nine players to the MLB draft left the Arizona baseball program filled with holes entering the 2009 season. But it also opened the door for several less prominent players to play important roles.

    Outfielder Hunter Pace has done just that.

    At the end of last season – one that he spent the majority of behind future draft picks T.J. Steele and Jon Gaston – Pace had started only seven games, seen only 21 at-bats, and carried a .143 average with zero RBIs.

    In the absence of the two juniors who opted to sign professional contracts over returning to Arizona, UA head coach Andy Lopez decided to give the 5-foot-10 now-senior outfielder a chance this season.

    Through the 19 games in which Pace has played, Lopez has looked pretty smart. Pace has recorded 12 RBIs and scored 15 runs while maintaining a batting average of .404 – good for second highest on the team behind first baseman Dillon Baird, .438.

    “”Hunter (Pace) has been doing a good job of slowing things down,”” Lopez said. “”He’s a senior and he understands that he has to hit and play at his own pace. He doesn’t go up to the plate all helter-skelter and as a result he’s been helping us out, getting a lot of hits.””

    Pace has spent the majority of his playing time in center field – a position occupied last season by Steele. With a perfect fielding percentage, he has been filling the shoes of the current Houston Astros minor-league prospect nicely.

    One of the characteristics which makes Pace both effective defensively and on the base paths – he is second on the team in stolen bases with eight – is his speed.

    The senior said he considers his quickness his main weapon and thus far for Arizona, it has been paying off.

    “”I take a lot of pride in (my speed),”” Pace said. “”That’s what has always helped me be successful so I’m just trying to work more and more with it and see where it takes me.””

    Former Wildcats Perry, Crowe named to MLB opening-day rosters

    Come opening day of the 2009 MLB season, the Arizona baseball program will add two more to the list of players in the major leagues, as former Wildcats Trevor Crowe and Ryan Perry have been named to the opening-day rosters for the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, respectively.

    According to reports from USA Today, Perry’s notification came in the form of an April Fool’s joke as Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland told the 22-year old he was being sent down to the minors before voicing the key words, “”April Fools.””

    Perry will find his place in Detroit’s bullpen after an impressive spring training in which the right-hander saw 10 2/3 innings of work, giving up only one earned run, striking out 11 and ending the exhibition season with an ERA of 0.89 – second lowest on the staff.

    “”He’s obviously really special and we’re all excited for him,”” said UA catcher and Perry’s former teammate Dwight Childs. “”It’s cool to see a close friend like that make it and especially an ex-teammate. He’s got a live arm and shows real fast-ball dominance and that’ll make him real successful.””

    Perry was one of two Arizona pitchers to be drafted in the first round, alongside left-hander Daniel Schlereth who is currently in the Arizona farm system.

    After several rough outings as Arizona’s third starter, Lopez moved the junior to the bullpen where he quickly excelled, going 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA in relief.

    “”I think some guys, if you give them time to think, they make the game too big,”” Lopez said of Perry. “”When I gave (Perry) a start when he was here, he was pretty average. But when we brought him out of the pen he was really something special.””

    The other former Wildcat making the opening day roster is Crowe, who was called up after the Indians were forced to place outfielder David Dellucci on the 15-day disabled list with a calf injury.

    Crowe will serve as the team’s fourth outfielder after a spring training in which the three-year Arizona letter winner hit for a .289 average with a home run and three RBIs.

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