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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    An All-American workhorse

    Arizona pitcher Preston Guilmet has a love for horses. Seen here with Rosebud, a filly from his horse training class, Guilmet is late to three baseball practices a week so he can spend time learning about his unique hobby.
    Arizona pitcher Preston Guilmet has a love for horses. Seen here with Rosebud, a filly from his horse training class, Guilmet is late to three baseball practices a week so he can spend time learning about his unique hobby.

    For head coach Andy Lopez’ Arizona baseball team, school must come first. Therefore, it’s routine to see players arriving late to the field on any given day due to having late classes. And as long as that is the excuse, it’s fine by Lopez.

    Even when all the class involves is playing with horses.

    Since the team opened spring practice Feb. 1, Arizona’s preseason All-American pitcher Preston Guilmet has arrived to practice late every Monday, Wednesday and Friday due to his enrollment in a class on horse training.

    “”We don’t actually ride the horses,”” Guilmet said of the class. “”We train them, do all of the ground-breaking training with them; saddling and stuff like that.””

    While it may seem strange that the same pitcher that earned a 12-2 record on the mound last season behind an astonishing 1.87 ERA wound up in a horse training class which causes him to be tardy to practice three days a week, it can be assured there was no mistake or scheduling glitch.

    Since his high school days, the 2007 Pacific 10 Conference pitcher of the year has enjoyed the company of horses. Guilmet said the motivation from his ex-girlfriend sparked the interest which has carried on ever since.

    So it comes as little surprise that this is not Guilmet’s first semester in the class. In fact, the right-hander has even had time to develop a bond with the young horse he has been assigned to in the class, Rosebud.

    “”I’ve got an 11-month-old filly, which means a girl,”” Guilmet said with a hint of pride in his voice. “”She’s a good horse. I’ve been working with her since last semester when she was six months old.””

    Unfortunately for Guilmet, his love of horses is lost on his teammates who enjoy taking an opportunity to give him some light-hearted trouble about his unique hobby.

    “”He’s just a weirdo,”” closer Jason Stoffel said jokingly. “”He talks about (horses) a good amount. I’ve never had had a horse, never really been interested in horses. I don’t really know what he’s doing (in the class).””

    Fellow teammate and pitcher Daniel Schlereth said Guilmet’s interest stretches to his home as well where a horse calendar hangs on the wall.

    “”He’s just a geek man, that’s all I can say,”” Schlereth said. “”He’s pretty big time into (horses). I like horses too, but as far as I’ve gone with them is probably just feeding it grass and that’s fine with me.””

    While his teammates might give their ace some grief about his off-the-field activities, no one is questioning what he does on the field.

    Last season, Guilmet posted a Cy Young caliber effort, according to Lopez, in which he marked himself as one of the best pitchers in college baseball and the best pitcher in the Pac-10.

    In addition to his national recognition, Guilmet recorded Arizona’s lowest ERA since 1975 and recorded the most wins since former major leaguer Scott Erikson in 1989 (18).

    “”Last year he had an ‘S’ on his chest like he was Superman,”” Lopez said of Guilmet’s performance. “”There were several times last year he was on the mound in the ninth inning with a 1-run lead or throwing a shutout. He had an ERA of 1.78 in college baseball, that’s pretty special.””

    Lopez went on to add that he does not expect nor will the team require Guilmet to give the Wildcats a repeat performance.

    In Guilmet’s first appearance on Feb. 22 against Georgia, the junior was far from perfect, giving up four earned runs – eight total – through four innings en route to his first loss of the year.

    “”Definitely not the start the team or I hoped (for),”” Guilmet said. “”But we got plenty more weekends to come and we’re gonna get better.””

    Whether or not another All-American season stands on deck for Guilmet, Lopez said all he wants from his right-hander is to “”be a strong Friday night guy.””

    So this Friday, after he finishes his training with the filly, Guilmet will trade his boots for metal spikes and head to the pitchers’ mound where he will do what he does best: play ball.

    Since the Georgia game, Guilmet returned to his usual super form the past two Fridays by winning both of his starts while pitching 15 innings, allowing only two earned runs and 10 hits and striking out 23 batters.

    “”Preston’s as good of a guy as I’ve ever had in terms of paying attention to details and getting ready to pitch,”” Lopez said. “”He had a rough first outing but I have no doubt that (his performance) will turn around.””

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