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March 27, 1984 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-27

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The Michigan Doily - Tuesday, March 27, 1984 - Page 9

MICHIGAN

BASEBALL

'84

Blue barbecued in

mu

J

By CHRISTOPHER GERBASI
in 1983, Michigan's baseball team
roared through March like a lion, win-
ning eleven of their first twelve games
on the way to one of the school's most
successful seasons ever.
On this year's spring trip to Edin-
burg, Texas, the Wolverines played
more like lambs, stumbling to a
3-7 start.
THE DIFFERENCE? Pitching,
fielding and a tougher spring schedule.
Several key players from the '83 team
that went 50-9 and finished tied for thir-
d at the College World Series are gone.
Many graduated, and others left school
to sign professional contracts.
Second baseman Jeff Jacobson
graduated and third baseman Chris
Sabo skipped his final year to sign with
the Cincinnati Reds. Outfielder Fred
Erdmann also graduated and Dale
Sklar, a regular in centerfield last year,
left school when his parents moved to
California.
The most important losses, however,
are in the pitching ranks. Coach Bud
Middaugh lost two starters in Rich Stoll
and Dave Kopf, and his best reliever in
Tim Karazim.
HEADING INTO the spring trip,
Middaugh knew that pitching would be
a problem area, as well as the open in-
field and outfield positions. Deciding
who would fill those positions was dif-
ficult because with inclement weather
early in March, Middaugh didn't get a

'M' hopes to rebound
from shaky '84 start

chance to look at his players outside.
"In an inside situation, it's hard to
determine how far the players have
come from last fall," said Middaugh
earlier this month. "It (the team's suc-
cess) depends on how fast the young
kids come along at second, third and
the outfield, but it still stems around
pitching. But we're going down there
(to Texas) to compete, not to ex-
periment. We're going down to win ball
games."
Well, winning ball games wasn't easy
in Edinburg. Michigan gave up nine, 10,
11 runs in some games. Pitchers Casey
Close and Dave Karasinski got off to
shaky starts, losing their first two
decisions. Left-handed starter Gary
Wayne was also battered in his first ap-
pearance.
THE BEST PITCHING performance
so far belongs to sophomore Scott
Kamieniecki, who tossed a four-hitter
and struck out nine in a 5-3 win over
Bradley.
The pitchers, however, have not been
helped much by the players backing
them up, as the Wolverines' fielding has
been atrocious. At one point, they

committed 15 errors in a three-game
.span, a figure no little league coach
would be proud of.
The infield suffered a setback when
slick-fielding shortstop Barry Larkin
sprained his ankle last week. He missed
the last several games of the trip.
Hopefully, the injury is not a sign of a
sophomore jinx for Larkin. As a fresh-
man, Larkin hit .352 and was named a
pre-season All-America by the
Baseball America magazine this year.
"IT'S A BIG thrill, but that's pre-
season," said Larkin. "I just have to go
out and prove myself, first to myself
and then to my teammates." Indeed,
Larkin was proving himself, getting off
to a fine start at the plate before the in-
jury.
WHILE HITTING hasn't been a
problem for the Wolverines, it hasn't
been much of one for their opposition
either. Michigan has had to face teams
such as Miami of Ohio, which made the
Mideast Regional last year, and Maine,
which went to the World Series in
Omaha.
The Wolverines obviously have some
kinks to work out before they can start

i exas
thinking about returning to Omaha.
"I don't like the term "rebuilding,' "
said Middaugh. "I like to go out and
compete every year. But we've got
young people at strategic positions and
they're going to have to play like
they've been here to get off to a decent
start."
MIDDAUGH DOESN'T feel any ad-
ded pressure to repeat last season's
performance and in fact, looks forward
to the challenge.
"We've got two new infielders and,
really, a new outfield, and I like that,"
he said. "That's fun for me because I
enjoy the teaching part of it. They're
still ranking us high and that's nice for
recognition, but you've got to go out and
get it done, and there's so much to teach
and to learn."
Based on the spring trip, there's still
some teaching and learning to be done.
The Wolverines will first have to get
through the Big Ten East competition,
which Middaugh regards as stronger.
Last year, Michigan won their division
with a 13-2 mark before sweeping
through the Big Ten Playoffs and the
Mideast Regional.
"Last year, we were dominant, but I
don't think that exists this year, said
Middaugh. "But I go on the premise
that I don't care too much about the
competition, I care about the team. The
goal is still the same."
And that goal is another trip to the
World Series.

Michigan coach Bud Middaugh discusses the finer points of the game with an
umpire in a contest last season.

THE INFIELDERS:
Hayjward sizes up first base

THE OUTFIELDERS:
Rookie Huffman inherits CF

LARKIN TERESA
By GARY EFFMAN
"Who's on first? What's on second? I don't know.
.third base."
When Abbott and Costello tried to fugure out what the
infield would look like, they produced one of the classic
routines of American vaudeville. When Michigan
baseball coach Bud Middaugh goes about this task, it will
be a more serious affair, one that could prove to be a
major determinant of whether Ann Arbor baseball fans
will have something to smile about this season.
THE WOLVERINES return today from last year's 50-9
season with pre-season All-American shortstop Barry
Larkin and first baseman Ken Hayward, the only retur-
ning members of last season's major league infield. Gone
are third baseman Chris Sabo (a second-round pick of the
Cincinnati Reds) and second baseman Jeff Jacobson, who
is in the Baltimore Oriole organization.
Competing for the two open spots are C.J. Beshke, who
backed up Jacobson at second last season; Mike Watters,
who Middaugh hopes to move to the infield from right
field; and newcomers Matt Siuda and Danny Teresa.
Currently, Middaugh lists the starting infield as
Hayward at first, Beshke at second, Larkin at short, and
Siuda at third. But he is quick to point out, "It's just so dif-
ferent when you're inside. You want to be fair with all
your players and until we get outside it's hard to see who
should start where."
Siuda, a freshman, will have to .make the transition
from shortstop (where he played in high school) to the
"hot corner." Siuda (pronounced shoo-da) chose to attend

BESHKE HAYWARD
Michigan despite being drafted in the ninth round by the
Pittsburgh Pirates and despite the presence of Larkin at
shortstop.
"I knew they had Larkin here so I wasn't expecting to
play short," said Siuda. "I did play at third a little in a
summer league getting ready." 'Siuda added that so far
playing third has been "a lot easier" than shortstop.
Second base may provide Middaugh with a tough choice
between Beshke and Teresa. "It's pretty close between
C.J. and Teresa," said Middaugh. "Teresa has looked
good, but I'd like to start out with someone who's been in
the program a few years."
THE THIRD question mark in the infield quiz game is
the status of Mike Watters. Middaugh is hoping to use
Watters as a second baseman but, as he explained, "Wat-
ters has only been out of a cast for seven weeks, which he
had on his catching hand for six months, and I don't think
he's had enough time in the infield."
With the loss of Jacobson and Sabo, sophomore Larkin
has assumed the role as infield leader. Though Larkin
admits that there is uncertainty in the infield, he is op-
timistic.
"It was rocky at first, but it (the infield) looks pretty
good right now," said Larkin. "We're working well
together and everyone's popping the ball to first. Siuda
has been playing sold and C.J. is a scrappy player."
Middaugh and Larkin seem - to be echoing the same
point-though the infield is not set, the team does have
plenty of talent to cover the positions. It's a simple case of
only time will tell.

CLOSE WATTERS
By CHRISTOPHER GERBASI
Dan Sygar, Fred Erdmann, Dale Sklar-these 1983
regulars are gone now as the Wolverines feature a
revamped outfield in 1984.
Sygar and 'Erdmann both graduated following suc-
cessful senior years; while Sklar, who the Wolverines
were heavily counting on for two more seasons, left school
when his parents moved to California. Sklar may transfer
to USC or attend a junior college next year.
DESPITE THE LOSS of the big names, however, the
group competing for the outfield spots is not completely
unfamiliar to Michigan baseball fans. Sophomore Mike
Watters started this season in rightfield and saw plenty of
action last year, when he hit .322 with 24 RBI.
Watters, however, may eventually be moved to second
base, if he recovers from a injury to his throwing hand.
Watters' right hand had been put in a cast at Christmas
which wasn't removed until just before the season started.
Coach Bud Middaugh didn't feel he was quite ready for
the infield, but said he'll play there at some point this
season.
Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Casey Close will see duty
in leftfield, that is, when he's not on the mound.
"THE MORE I pitch, the less I'll play the outfield and
vice versa," said Close. "I've been swinging the bat well
and working on my pitching real hard, I want to establish
myself in both. We'll just have to wait and see how it
goes."
Close cracked homeruns in each of his first two games
in Texas this spring, equaling his last year's total.

Replacing Sklar in center will be Rob Huffman, a
freshman from Hamilton, 0, who has impressed Middaugh
so far this season. Sophomore Chris Gust will also
challenge for the position. Gust had only 21 at-bats last
year.
ALL THE OUTFIELDERS will get a good look early in
the season, since Close will frequently pitch, Watters may
switch positions and Huffman is inexperienced.
"We're going to put them in competitive situations,"
said Middaugh. "We'll play a lot of people in those
positions and I'm going to wait as long as possible on
decisions."
Junior Jeff Minick and sophomore Kurt Zimmermann
saw considerable action on the spring trip. Minick will
sometimes play in right. Zimmermann may play in the
infield as well as the outfield.
NEITHER GOT very many at-bats last year. Minick hit
.421 in 19 plate appearances during the regular season and
Zimmermann was 4-for-10. This year both slammed a
couple of homeruns on the spring trip. For Zimmermann,
the first homer was his first collegiately.
Dan Disher, a sophomore pitcher, may also play some
outfield. Disher hit .356 last year.
Also competing for a spot is freshman Greg Rolston,
from Flint, and of course, the versatile performer, Chuck
Froning. Froning, a senior, hit .330 with 16 RBI in '83
while playing a number of positions.
A long range possibility to play the outfield is current
shortstop Barry Larkin, who would be a natural in center-
field.

F

I

0

/'IT

By GAR
Baseball is a sir
nine players on2
certain position o
shortstops, pitche
fielders, and cat
is Chuck Froning
Froning has be
baseball as a "u
from position to1
gaps caused by in
"I'M NOT A
starter, but I ca
needed," said th
,Ohio. "Since Ive be
played every pos
time or another
field."
In 1983 Fronin
starting position.
Michigan, plato
hitter spot wit
Casey Close.
"I was pretty
DH and Casey ca
lefty pitching ag
Froning, a three-
MANY PLAY)
about the lack
time; Froning do
"I think I cam
that I wouldn

ning: nuc
RY EFFMAN
mple game: There are Ten All-Academic squad. He batted .288
a team each taking a in 104 at bats while striking out only
on the field. There are four times.
ers, leftfielders, right- THOUGH FRONING is not the type
chers...and then there of player who grabs the headlines, last
season he did manage to get his face on
come what is known in every major Detroit television station
utility man," jumping when he knocked home the winning run
position, filling in the in the bottom of the ninth in Michigan's
ijuries and slumps. 1-0 victory over Iowa in the opener of
single-postion-definite the Big Ten playoffs.
n play anywhere I'm The win was one of many that
e senior from Sidney, propelled Michigan into the College
en here at Michigan I've World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
ition in a game at one Froning spoke enthusiastically about
r...except for center- the tournament.
"The (College) World Series is.
g came as close to a definitely what everyone is gunning
as he's ever gotten at for," said the 6-0, 175-pounder.
oning at the designed "Everyone caters to the players and
h pitcher/outfielder the teams...It's the big event of the year
in Omaha and it's fun having the
much the lefthanded spotlight on the team."
ame in when we had a UNFORTUNATELY FOR Froning,
gainst us," explained his performance at the Series was
year letterman. below his par.
ERS might get bitter "I hit the ball hard a few times," he
of consistent playing said, "but still it was a disappointing
esn't. Series for me going hitless."' Froning
e to Michigan knowing also had the dubious distinction of
't have a starting making the final out with men in

i
/

k- of-all-
most memorable and disappointing
game of my Michigan career," he
commented.
Froning hopes that this season, his
last in a Michigan uniform, will give
him another chance to show the folks of
Omaha what he's really capable of.
However, Froning realizes that chance
may not come. "It's so early we're (the
Wolverines) untested. We're a very
young team and we lost a lot of great
players, but Coach Middaugh always
brings in the talent."
ALTHOUGH FRONING enters this
season accustomed to his role as
- - - am - - - - --se am m ..

trades
Michigan's all-purpose man, he was
quick to explain, "That doesn't mean I
haven't been going out every day trying
to earn a starting position because I
don't mind the playing time at all."
Regardless of this year's performan-
ce, Froning is happy with his four years
at Michigan. "Coach Middaugh brought
me here to play baseball, but it's also
given me a chance to go to a great
school and make some good contacts."
And who knows? With the almost
complete depletion of last year's out-
field, Fisher Stadium fans may yet hear
the words, "And now in centerfield for
the Wolverines - Chuck Froning."

ma m m m

- m mN

r TMHE
FREE
Medium Soft Drink'

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