Todd Gets The Nod

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas baseball fans still curious about catching a glimpse of Jess Todd on the pitching mound, here's a little advice.

Get there early.

Instead of rocking and rolling out of the Razorbacks' bullpen in the late innings as the team's closer, Todd has been moved back to a more familiar role this weekend when he takes the mound as a starter.

And with Todd fully rested and ready to go after previously battling through a spat with a sore arm, coach Dave Van Horn is wasting no time in seeing what his highly touted transfer right-hander can do in the early innings when he takes the hill today against Kansas in the first of a three-game series at Baum Stadium.

First pitch today is set for 12:35 p.m.

"In a perfect world, we'd like to keep him in the bullpen, but we figured this would happen once or twice during the season," Van Horn said. "So it's better to do it now than later to see how it goes. We're playing Kansas, a quality Big 12 team and they play tough competition, so we'll probably know more about where we're at after this week."

With Duke Welker struggling in each of his last two starts, bringing Todd into the rotation became the next option for the 10th-ranked Razorbacks (10-5). But unlike some last-minute, out of the hat moves, Todd's time as a starter could be the best thing for Arkansas.

At Navarro (Texas) College, the 6-foot, 213-pound junior earned all-American honors in 2006 when he posted an 11-3 record with a 1.39 earned run average, primarily as a starter.

"It's a total different mentality (when you start)," Todd said. "Instead of just running out to the bullpen around the seventh inning to get loose, now you've got a whole morning to think about it.

"It takes a lot longer to get warm. I think I'm on about a 70-pitch count, so it's going to be different. I haven't started since this summer (Texas Collegiate League), so it will be a little different."

Throwing Todd against the Jayhawks (11-5) -- followed by Shaun Seibert on Saturday and lefty Nick Schmidt on Sunday -- could also help the Diamond Hogs better prepare their rotation for the rigors of Southeastern Conference play, which starts next week.

"This is like an SEC weekend this week," Van Horn said. "I can't say enough about Kansas. They are a quality opponent."


Kansas at No. 10 Arkansas

WHEN: 12:35 p.m., today

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Kansas 11-5, Arkansas 10-5

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