Baseball, Sports

Returning pitchers get back in the swing of things

Dale Carey, originally from Marietta, Ga., runs the bases during baseball practice on Tuesday, November 1. Daniel Osiason//The Miami Hurricane

Fall practice is underway for the University of Miami baseball team and, as usual, expectations are high for the upcoming 2012 season.

The Hurricanes will return a wealth of talent to the baseball diamond come spring. Included in this group is a pitching staff that could be legitimately considered as the most dominant arsenal of arms in the country.

Miami has the good fortune to return last year’s entire starting rotation, plus an arm from its 2010 starting staff. The talented but injury-plagued Eric Erickson is in uniform and practicing for the Hurricanes at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light field, making yet another attempt to resurrect his career.

“The guys that pitched last year have an edge going into fall practice, but they have to pitch well if they want to be there in the spring,” head coach Jim Morris said. “[Junior Eric] Whaley has been the most impressive guy at this point, but Erickson’s throwing pretty darn good too.”

Erickson, who helped lead Miami to the 2008 College World Series as a sophomore, missed both the 2009 and 2011 seasons rehabbing after two separate Tommy John surgeries. He said he is at full strength and has high hopes for the upcoming season.

“It feels great [to be back]. It feels perfect, actually,” said Erickson, who will be enrolled at UM as a graduate student. “Health-wise and mentally I’m in really good shape right now and I’m just blessed to be back here.”

Morris enters his 20th season as Miami’s skipper delighted by what he’s seen from Erickson in fall practice.

“He’s worked very, very hard over two Tommy John surgeries to get back,” Morris said. “Watching him pitch it just reminds me of Eric Erickson. That’s the best way to put it … it’s fun watching him pitch. He’s had two starts now [in inter-squad-scrimmages]and pitched very well.”

Erickson will compete for Miami’s Friday night slot, a coveted role usually given to the team’s ace.

Fall practice is underway for the University of Miami baseball team and, as usual, expectations are high for the upcoming 2012 season.

The Hurricanes will return a wealth of talent to the baseball diamond come spring. Included in this group is a pitching staff that could be legitimately considered as the most dominant arsenal of arms in the country.

Miami has the good fortune to return last year’s entire starting rotation, plus an arm from its 2010 starting staff. The talented but injury-plagued Eric Erickson is in uniform and practicing for the Hurricanes at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light field, making yet another attempt to resurrect his career.

“The guys that pitched last year have an edge going into fall practice, but they have to pitch well if they want to be there in the spring,” head coach Jim Morris said. “[Junior Eric] Whaley has been the most impressive guy at this point, but Erickson’s throwing pretty darn good too.”

Erickson, who helped lead Miami to the 2008 College World Series as a sophomore, missed both the 2009 and 2011 seasons rehabbing after two separate Tommy John surgeries. He said he is at full strength and has high hopes for the upcoming season.

“It feels great [to be back]. It feels perfect, actually,” said Erickson, who will be enrolled at UM as a graduate student. “Health-wise and mentally I’m in really good shape right now and I’m just blessed to be back here.”

Morris enters his 20th season as Miami’s skipper delighted by what he’s seen from Erickson in fall practice.

“He’s worked very, very hard over two Tommy John surgeries to get back,” Morris said. “Watching him pitch it just reminds me of Eric Erickson. That’s the best way to put it … it’s fun watching him pitch. He’s had two starts now [in inter-squad-scrimmages]and pitched very well.”

Erickson will compete for Miami’s Friday night slot, a coveted role usually given to the team’s ace.

Other candidates for the position include sophomore Bryan Radziewski and junior Eric Whaley, both starters in 2011.

Junior E.J. Encinosa, who started 15 games for Miami last season, will move to the bullpen, presumably to take over closing role. Danny Miranda, last year’s closer, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 MLB Draft. Junior Steven Ewing will attempt to solidify his spot as the Canes’ mid-week starter.

“I think we’re the most talented pitching staff in the nation,” Erickson said. “I don’t think there’s anybody that’s going to throw as well as we do.”

The other big news out of fall practice is the arrival of catcher Peter O’Brien. The former Bethune-Cookman standout was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the draft, but did not ink a deal by the Aug. 15 deadline.

O’Brien opted to enroll at UM instead and is now waiting for a waiver of eligibility from the NCAA for 2012. Those familiar with the situation are confident that O’Brien will be cleared to play for his senior year, but Morris is hesitant to get ahead of himself.

“We’re waiting on the NCAA, hoping that ultimately they’ll rule him eligible to play,” Morris said. “He’s able to practice but he can’t play against outside competition. We’re just crossing our fingers, hoping.”

Regardless of what happens with O’Brien, the Hurricanes have a lot to look forward to as 2012 approaches. While Miami advanced to its NCAA-record 39th-consecutive NCAA Regionals appearance last season, the Canes haven’t reached the College Word Series since 2008.

Anything short of a return trip to Omaha will be a disappointment for this talented bunch.

 

November 2, 2011

Reporters

Adam Berger

Staff Sports Writer


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