Tuesday, April 20, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 27
Michigan centerfielder epitomizes 'team' player, leader
Michigan first baseman Bryan Besco and the rest of the Wolverines will travel to
Grand Rapids to play Notre Dame at Old Kent Park today.
'M' looks to buld
oniM, wee k en 1ftd win Ls
BY TRACY SANDLER i DAILY SPORTS WRITER
They call him Buh. It seems like a routine-
enough nickname for Michigan centerfielder
Brian Bush, but looks can be deceiving.
It began, because it's short for Bush, and that's
what the older guys called him. But it's developed
into a name with a little more meaning.
"Everyone on the team gets a little extra excite-
ment when they hear the word 'Buh'," said
Michigan senior pitcher Ryan Kelley.
The excitement comes from the way Bush plays
the game - a feeling felt throughout the dugout.
"He loves to create and make things happen,"
Michigan coach Geoff Zahn said. "When he hits
what would normally be a routine single, the
whole team knows that if the outfielder bobbles
the ball, Brian is going to end up on second. He
always looks for ways to take advantage of the
So far this season, Bush is doing just that. He is
currently leading the team in batting with a .366
average. In addition, he has hit eight doubles, four
triples and four homeruns. He has stolen eight
bases in 12 attempts, and defensively, Bush has a
957 fielding percentage.
"This season I've been given a chance," Bush
said. "I haven't had to split time, and I can go
without pressure. Instead of worrying about get-
ting the position, I know when I wake up that I'm
going to be in the lineup."
Bush's starter status has not come easily. His
senior season has been his most productive as a
Wolverine due to a tremendous amount of hard
work and dedication.
"He's developed a little each year," Zahn said.
"He's made a lot of improvements, and the things
he's worked on have come to fruition - getting
jumps on the ball, running down balls and catch-
ing balls against the wall.
"Offensively, we've always wanted to hit more
to the right side, and he's doing that now. He can
pull pitches inside. He's a much more complete
and a much smarter player."
Bush has also developed into a leader both on
and off the field. During games, he has become a
clutch player both in the field and at the plate.
"In crucial situations, we can always count on
Buh," Kelley said. "Defensively and
offensively, he always comes up with
the big play. As a pitcher, I can always.
count on him to save my butt. He plays "If I'm
hard every pitch." back a
In the dugout and in the clubhouse be the
the Wolverines look to the senior to me. HE
pick them up when things are not going for ev
so well, or when they just need a lift. On the
"He's one of our vocal leaders,"
Kelley said. "He'll talk about not keep- pit
ing our heads down. The younger guys
look up to him, because he brings fun
and a good sense of humor to the team. ----___
"Away from the field, he'll always
back me up. If I'm in a back alley, he'll be there
for me. He'll battle for everybody on the team."
With the aforementioned good sense of humor
comes a few small superstitious habits.
Michigan centerflelder Brian Bush began playing baseball when he was five. He now leads a talented group of
Michigan seniors hoping to marshall the Wolverines into Big Ten contention.
4V eoff Gagnon
y Sports Writer
s Michigan baseball coach Geoff
ahn made it clear early in the sea-
n that his team's intentions for this
year were unwavering.
"We want to win the Big Ten,"
Zahn said last month.
"That's our primary concern and
r ly one of our biggest goals. If
yQur aim is anything less than its
A month later, that objective has
tto change. But as things have
began to fall into place midway
,tough the conference season, the
p _Iverines have
,developed a clearer
.tnse of what it might
And after this week- Who:
end's redeeming split Michigan vs
with second-place Dame
Minnesota, Michigan Where:
knows that reaching Old KentPa
the Big Ten's top spot Rapids
not be out of When: 31
retch despite suffering
:,sgries of setbacks. Notable:
"This weekend's Dame is cur
wins kind of gave us a 1 in the Big
boost," Outfielder Conference,
Trio~n Alcaraz said.
"After coming out
strong against Minnesota we kind of
g~ot back the confidence we may
t vb lost after losing to Oakland last
"oday, Michigan will look to build
a n'21-19 mark and the momentum
generated by the weekend wins over
the Gophers as they battle Notre
Dame in a non-conference meeting.
Second place in the Big East last
season, Notre Dame enters today
contest with a 14-2 conference
record, boosted by Sunday's come-
from-behind win over Boston
c addition to giving Michigan a
ch" ce to face a tough non-confer-
ence opponent, the venue for today's
mnateh- up is something the
_WQlyerines say makes tnem look tor-
,Wgrd to today's game even more.
,, 'he game is being played at Old
Kent Park, home of Detroit Tigers'
Cksss A affiliate the West Michigan
W itecaps. The neutral site affords
;both teams a chance to experience
.amenities of a professional park.
"I'm really looking forward to
playing there," Alcaraz said.
"Its really a great place to play a
game, I played there once when I
was a sophomore. The field is well-
cared for and its able to hold a lot of
fans. It's just a fun environment."
If playing in Old Kent Park will be
fun, playing against the Irish won't
be as enjoyable in all likelihood.
And though Michigan enjoys an
all-time 69-36 series lead over Notre
Dame, they'll be expecting a fierce
Irish squad today.
"We haven't seen them this year
but they are tough," Alcaraz said.
"They are usually a
A very good team and this
year their right up there
Whatever the out-1
Notre come of today's contest,
Michigan will be
allowed a ten-day+
k Grand reprieve from play
before resuming confer-
ence play against
'm' Michigan State on April
ently No. And that break could-
East n't have come at a better
time said Alcaraz.
h" We're going to go
hard against Notre
"Sometimes if I'm hitting well, I won't shave,"
Bush said. "If I showered before and after break-
fast and then have a good game, I'll do the same
thing next game. When I have a good game, I try
to do the same routine. If I have a bad game, I'll
switch it up and do something different."
Although he feels he leads more by example,
Bush admits that he and the other
seniors do what they can to keep
team morale high.
n a "All of our seniors have some kind
ey, he'll of role," Bush said. "We're hoping
e for the younger guys will take a liking to
ll battle how we reflect on the team and do the
ybody same when we leave."
eam. Aside from physical strides, Bush
Ryn Kelley has also grown mentally. He knows
er, Michigan that if he spends all his time worry-
aseball team ing about what went wrong, he won't
perform as well on the field
_ - _ __ _ "You can't play baseball without a
mental edge," Bush said. "I've
learned in college and in summer leagues, through
a variety of coaches, how to take baseball as a fun
sport. You have to take each mistake as a learning
experience, instead of dwelling on what's gone
"One of my strengths as a player is my adjust-
ment to adversity. If I do something bad, I know
that the next day I'll do whatever I can to fix it."
Bush began his baseball career at the age of
five, after playing in the backyard with his father
and realizing that he had a good arm.
"My parents always preached organized sports
to us, because it kept us out of trouble," Bush said,
"I've always liked that it's a team sport with indi-
vidual pressures as well.
"You have to perform for the team and for your-
self, and the challenge is amazing."
Apparently, the challenge has facilitated a
tremendous appreciation, as well as a tremendoui
love, for the game of baseball.
"The greatest thing about Brian is he just love.
to play," Zahn said. "He brings exuberance to the
field. He takes extra bases, and he does it with a
flair. He loves to show off his speed, and he loves
to compete. He really enjoys the game."
For Bush, baseball is something to enjoy. It is
not supposed to be a chore.
"I go out and have fun," Bush said. "Baseball's
about fun. If it's not fun, that's when it will destroy
We're Gridlocked Witout Your Help!
Dame and then use the ten-day layoff
to regroup and refocus," Alcaraz
"It'll be nice to have that time to
heal up some injuries and rest a little
before getting back into the swing of
The rested and recuperated
Wolverines will return from their
hiatus to face intra-state rival
Michigan State in a game that is dif-
ficult for Michigan to take lightly.
Despite stumbling to a ninth-place
finish in the conference a year ago
with an 8-16 mark, Michigan State
narrowly missed sweeping the
Wolverines in their season series.
And with even more on the line
this season, the Fourth-place
wolverineshave their sights set on
the upset-minded fifth-ranked
"That's a game that obviously is
very important," Alcaraz said.
"Its one we tend to get up for a lit-
tle bit more, we not about to come
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