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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Perry up for ‘Challenge’

    Tonights starter Ryan Perry hurls a pitch to the plate in Arizonas 7-5 win (in 12 innings) over Northern Colorado Sunday at Sancet Stadium. In 10 pitches, the righty struck out the first and third batters he faced, while forcing the second to ground out.
    Tonight’s starter Ryan Perry hurls a pitch to the plate in Arizona’s 7-5 win (in 12 innings) over Northern Colorado Sunday at Sancet Stadium. In 10 pitches, the righty struck out the first and third batters he faced, while forcing the second to ground out.

    In an ideal world, Ryan Perry wouldn’t be pitching tonight. He’d be taking the day off in preparation for his start this weekend.

    But as Arizona baseball’s right-hander learned just before the season, things rarely go according to plan.

    After an outstanding fall practice that saw Perry labeled as the staff’s best arm by UA head coach Andy Lopez – “”If you just look at him, you kind of drool, because he’s 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. He just looks like a big-league pitcher,”” Lopez said – Perry was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he broke his left elbow a week before practice for the 2007 season began in early January.

    “”It was tough, because I wasn’t able to throw for a while; I wasn’t able to condition,”” Perry said. “”I was basically laying down for the first month and a half.””

    Now, as Perry (0-0) prepares for his start against No. 16 ASU in the second annual Challenge at Chase in Phoenix tonight at 6:30, he’s working his way back toward normalcy.

    “”I feel (fine) bodywise, but arm-strength, I really don’t,”” the sophomore said. “”I definitely can’t go as long as I have in the past.””

    After missing the first five weeks of the season with the broken arm, Perry returned to start against Hawaii-Hilo March 13, giving up one run on three hits in two innings of work.

    “”If you just look at him, you kind of drool, because he’s 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. He just looks like a big-league pitcher.””
    – Andy Lopez,
    baseball head coach

    Then against Morehead State March 20, he started and went 2 2/3 innings, this time surrendering two runs, striking out six.

    In his most recent outing Sunday versus Northern Colorado, Perry struck out two and got another batter to ground out in relief – all in 10 pitches.

    “”The hard thing for Ryan right now is Ryan Perry is going through the month of January in March,”” Lopez said. “”In January, you have three weeks to just come out and throw to get ready to pitch in February. He’s having to do it in March, during the course of the season.””

    Until Perry’s throwing arm is fully up to pace, he’ll remain on a pitch count. Against the Sun Devils, he’ll go 50 pitches in order to save him for the Oregon State series this weekend that opens Pacific 10 Conference play for both teams.

    “”We’re trying to bring him back as quickly as possible, but at the same time, there’s a delicate balance of bringing him back without hurting him,”” Lopez said.

    The head coach has high hopes for Perry. Though he wouldn’t directly say it, Lopez hinted that should Sunday starter David Coulon continue to struggle, Perry could find himself in that role.

    “”David knows he’s got to be a little bit more consistent,”” Lopez said. “”We’re getting consistent starts out of our first two guys (Preston Guilmet and Brad Mills). … We need to pitch well three days in a row, not two out of three.””

    A strong fall and early going of his season has helped to push Perry’s confidence that he just may be the guy to provide that third day of good pitching.

    “”My slider is way better than it was last year. Last year, I don’t even know if it moved,”” Perry said, a smile working its way out.

    “”We’re trying to bring him back as quickly as possible, but at the same time, there’s a delicate balance of bringing him back without hurting him.””
    – Andy Lopez,
    baseball head coach

    “”I’m definitely seeing myself becoming more of a dominant pitcher,”” he added. “”But I don’t think I’m dominant yet. I’m still working toward it.””

    Arizona (21-6) meets its in-state rival in a non-conference game for the second time this season. On Feb. 27 in Tucson, the Sun Devils (21-8) spanked the Wildcats, 22-8, in a game in which freshman lefty Paul Bargas couldn’t get out of the first inning.

    Bargas, who said he’s thought about that start every day since, is scheduled to throw tonight in relief.

    “”I’m hard-headed. I’m really hard-headed,”” Lopez said. “”He’s got to pitch (today). Even if it’s for an inning, he’s got to go out there.””

    Added Bargas last week: “”I can’t wait until I get to face (ASU) again. Every opponent is just as big as the next, but those guys, I can’t wait for them.””

    Extra bases

    Perry started the inaugural Challenge at Chase last season, which Arizona won, 12-8, behind a grand slam off the bat of former first baseman David Plante in the eighth inning. … Freshman Jason Stoffel is also scheduled to throw for Arizona. … ASU leads the Pac-10 in hitting at .361 with 41 home runs. … The Sun Devils have yet to name a starter.

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