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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sedbrook’s status uncertain for baseball season opener

    February is the month to answer questions for the Arizona baseball team, and one player’s status remains a question mark as the Wildcats open their season against Gonzaga this afternoon at 4.

    Infielder Colt Sedbrook, last year’s leading hitter, has been dealing with personal issues that weren’t resolved as of yesterday afternoon, said UA head coach Andy Lopez.

    “”I sure hope (he can play), but I really don’t know at this time,”” Lopez said.

    Sedbrook’s absence would leave a hole up the middle of the infield that would likely be filled by true freshman Kevin Rodland at second base, meaning Arizona would boast a three-freshman infield with Rodland alongside shortstop Robert Abel and Erik Castro at third base.

    In his 25 years as a head coach, February has been the month for players to establish themselves as starters or reserves for Lopez.

    “”You get a chance to see some guys and find out where they are, and can handle the roles that they’re, A, given and, B, want,”” Lopez said.

    “”Some guys say ‘I want to be a starter.’ Well, OK, that’s nice, but now you’ve got to go out and prove that you can do it.””

    As for the rest of the question marks, the majority revolve around a rotation that is far from set in stone.

    Right-hander Preston Guilmet, last year’s ace toward the end of the season, will again toe the mound on Friday nights this spring after a stellar fall, and early practice in January.

    “”Last year broke the ice and built the confidence, and it gave me an idea of what’s coming, and what I got this year,”” Guilmet said.

    Guilmet’s joined by a pair of lefties, Daniel Schlereth – last year’s closer – and Brad Mills, who will throw Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

    But the trio will be pushed by right-hander Mike Colla and lefty David Coulon, who started a combined 13 games between the two of them last season, and will start Arizona’s mid-week series next week.

    “”That whole thing is still full of competition,”” Lopez said of the rotation.

    “”And I say that from a standpoint that we have a situation where we’re lucky right now – and I think we will be as the season wears on – (because) there will be four or five guys that will really compete for … four spots, because it’ll be the closing role, too.””

    For now, that closing role vacated by Schlereth belongs to right-handed freshman Jason Stoffel out of Agoura, Calif.

    “”Stoffel wants to close … and he’s got good stuff,”” Lopez said.

    Slowed by a recent bout with bicep tendonitis, Schlereth is a surprise addition that Lopez called the team’s best pitcher during fall practice.

    “”Schlereth pitched so doggone well in the fall, we wanted to see what he would look like in a starting role,”” Lopez said.

    Just a year removed from a season in which his longest appearance was five innings, the Lone Tree, Colo., native said he’d need to change his approach on the mound as he transitions from closer to starter.

    “”I think that mentality is the same, but as far as going deeper into games and just coming out of the bullpen and firing for the eighth- and ninth-innings, it’s a lot different,”” Schlereth said. “”Hopefully I can stay relaxed and just go as long as I can.””

    Mills, meanwhile, led the team in wins with six last season.

    “”I’m going to throw like a Friday-night guy on Sunday, or Saturday, or whatever, and that’s what all our pitchers should try to do,”” he said.

    Together, the trio is part of a deep Arizona staff when it comes to starting experience.

    “”We’ve got a lot of guys that can throw, and when it comes to pitching, I’m not really worried this year,”” Guilmet said.

    Added Schlereth of the staff’s depth: “”It’s unbelievable. It’s like night and day from last year. … The sky’s the limit, I guess, with us.””

    Like Arizona, the Bulldogs feature a converted closer in their rotation, righty Brandon Harmon, who starts this afternoon.

    Clayton Mortensen, a right-hander, will throw Saturday, and Sunday’s starter is still yet to be determined, but will be between righties Cory Powell and Bobby McEwen.

    Friday’s game starts a streak of eight in ten days for the Wildcats, with a mid-week series against Utah Valley State starting Tuesday and a weekend series against New Mexico Feb. 9-11.

    “”We’re real sick of playing each other just in intrasquads,”” Mills said. “”It’s good to get an enemy in here and compete a little bit.””

    Extra bases

    Because of inclement weather, the Wildcats only saw the practice field twice this week, but still hit in their covered batting cagesevery day.

    Said Lopez: “”In a real funny way, it may be kind of a blessing. We’ve had a couple of the younger guys just be a little worn-out arm-wise. … They needed a day off.””

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