Arizona baseball

UA baseball: Positions up for grabs as Wildcats continue nonconference play

2014-02-22T00:00:00Z UA baseball: Positions up for grabs as Wildcats continue nonconference playBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

In the Andy Lopez book of baseball, there are three basic steps to success.

1. Have a plan.

2. Get your players ready.

3. Play the right guys.

The third key on that list is already proving to be a challenge for the 2014 Wildcats five games into the season.

Arizona is off to an unimpressive 3-2 start as it prepares to play Alcorn State for three games at Hi Corbett Field starting today. Travel problems forced the UA to change the schedule a second time Friday: The teams will now play at 6 p.m. today, and a doubleheader on Sunday. Start times for the double-dip are 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

When the teams open their series, Lopez will get back to mixing and matching with lineups. He’s also still on a mission to lock down his starting rotation.

“I know I’ve said this before, but I really am still getting to know this team,” Lopez said. “There are a lot of unknowns with this group.”

The combination of Lopez being away from the team during fall workouts, recovering from heart surgery and a couple of younger players pressing their way into the lineup has created some intrigue within the UA.

Here’s a look at three spots that still seem to be unsettled.

No. 3 starting pitcher
  • Who’s in contention:
  • LHP Tyler Crawford, RHP Mat Troupe and LHP Cody Moffett.
  • By the numbers:
  • Crawford and Troupe, both juniors, combined to give up 13 runs in two innings in their first starts of the season. The UA lost Crawford’s opening start 14-5 to Kent State and rallied to beat Utah Valley 8-7 in 14 innings in Troupe’s start.
  • The lowdown:
  • Crawford and Troupe were penciled into the starting rotation to start the season, but that has changed. Right-hander Cody Hamlin, a junior college transfer, had a sterling debut Sunday against Kent State and isn’t coming out of the rotation anytime soon. And James Farris is locked into the Friday night role for now. So that leaves Crawford and Troupe battling for one spot. Crawford bounced back from his rough first start, with a strong effort against Utah Valley on Tuesday and will start this Sunday. Troupe will work out of the bullpen for now, but that could change.
Center fielD
  • Who’s in contention:
  • Joe Maggi and Scott Kingery
  • By the numbers:
  • Maggi is just 2 for 15 in four starts. He’s batting .133.
  • The lowdown:
  • Maggi earned the start in center the first four games but was put on the pine for Wednesday’s game against Utah Valley. Kingery started in center, and freshman Kenny Meimerstorf started in right, where Kingery usually roams. Lopez would like to see what he has in Meimerstorf early in the year, so Maggi’s at-bats may be diminished. Kingery has been solid, starting the season 7 for 20.
Closer
  • Who’s in contention:
  • Tyger Talley, Bobby Dalbec and Troupe
  • By the numbers:
  • Talley has pitched only two innings so far but has already issued three walks and a run.
  • The lowdown:
  • Talley’s three walks are something to watch. Lopez has a tough time with pitchers who can’t throw strikes and certainly will have trouble trusting a closer who is prone to walking batters. Dalbec, the team’s starting first baseman, has pitched 2º scoreless innings, giving up one hit and has closer-type stuff. Troupe could also eventually be a candidate for this job if his bid for a starting job doesn’t work out.

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at 573-4330 or dberk@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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