Junior right-hander DJ Baxendale and sophomore right-hander Ryne Stanek will start on Friday and Saturday for the No. 4 Razorbacks, but the decision on a third starter for one of the nation's deepest pitching staffs won't be made until next week.
Junior left-hander Randall Fant is a likely candidate, but is suffering arm fatigue, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
"His arm's a little bit tender so we're just going to take it easy with him for a little bit," Van Horn said. "We were going to go with (Barrett) Astin but we sure like him out of the bullpen. So I don't know who we're going to throw yet."
If Fant isn't available, sophomore Brandon Moore appears to have the best chance to start the third game of the series. The 6-foot-3 Van Buren native posted a 4-1 record with a 3.45 earned run average in 17 games last season.
A new face behind the plate
Replacing James McCann at catcher will be a tough task.
However, sophomore Jake Wise, who is expected to start at catcher on Friday, had the chance to learn behind the three-year starter and continues to receive some advice going into the season.
"I think Wise learned a lot from McCann last year," sophomore pitcher Barrett Astin said. "McCann has been in here in the offseason working with (the catchers), and I think they'll be good."
While Wise looks to have the starting job sewn up going into the season, freshman John Clay Reeves will compete for starting time behind the plate, especially in the midweek.
Helping alongside McCann is another former Arkansas catcher. Brian Walker is in his second season as an assistant coach for the Razorbacks and has helped mentor those on campus.
Bleeker back with Hogs
After hitting a home run in a NCAA Regional match-up against Washington State as a freshman, Derrick Bleeker left Arkansas at the end of the season.
After a season with Howard Junior College in Longmont, Colo., Bleeker has returned to Fayetteville to play with the Razorbacks for his junior season.
"It looked like he was going to go to North Carolina, but last minute he decided he was coming back here," Van Horn said.
While at Howard, Bleeker pitched 12 2/3 innings, striking out 14 batters and recording two saves. He did not pitch much his freshman season with the Razorbacks, even though Van Horn recruited him to do so.
"When Derrick got here, he didn't want anything to do with that mound," Van Horn said. "We couldn't get him to hardly go to the bullpen. He wanted to hit."
With the depth at pitching for this Arkansas baseball team, it is unlikely that Bleeker will do much pitching this time around, either.
"He's been swinging the bat extremely well the last few days. Physically, he's a big kid and we'd like for him to be an intimidating force at the plate," Van Horn said.
"On this team, I don't see him pitching a whole lot. Right now, we're working him more in the outfield and a little bit at first base. We want him to hit and play some outfield because he's probably one of our top-three outfielders defensively."
Arkansas has a pair of returning position players battling injuries heading into the final week of the preseason.
Junior third baseman Matt Reynolds suffered a hip injury while fielding a ball during a scrimmage last Sunday, while junior outfielder Matt Vinson suffered a back injury while lifting weights.
Van Horn said both players are undergoing treatment and should be ready to play by the series opener against Villanova.