Hogs Close to Baseball Opener

Arkansas pitcher Shaun Seibert is coming back from Tommy John surgery. The junior righthander should make a start in the weekend series against Wright State.

The Arkansas baseball team is beat up right now heading into Friday's season opener with Wright State. Game time Friday is 3 p.m. with games also set against Wright State at 1 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Logan Forsythe and Shaun Seibert are both doing well after surgery and will be in the lineup this weekend. Forsythe, the Hogs' team leader and best player, will play third base and hit in the middle of the lineup. Seibert is scheduled to start on the mound, probably Saturday.

Seibert underwent reconstructive surgery to his pitching elbow last March, the famed Tommy John surgery by Birmingham, Ala., doctor James Andrews. Seibert's bullpen sessions have been strong and he's regaining a lot of his velocity from before surgery.

"He's throwing well in bullpen and he deserves to be out there," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's ahead of schedule. He's not even 12 months out from surgery and he's done very, very well. His pitching motion is actually better than before."

Other pitching starters on the weekend will likely be true freshmen James Mahler (Friday) and Kendall Korbell (Sunday). Coaches said not to read anything into the sequence of starters just yet.

They will start based on the rotation of their last bullpen sessions, not based on filling out the rotation as in one to three. Dallas Keuchel is likely to be first out of the bullpen, but coaches will look at a lot of pitchers this weekend.

Sean Jones, who perhaps would have opened the season in center field, is out for another five to six weeks with a broken hand after getting hit by a pitch last week in a scrimmage. Tim Smalling and Casey Coon are both day-to-day with sore shoulders. Smalling hurt his non-throwing shoulder diving for a line drive. Coon's shoulder injury is to his throwing side. Both could play this weekend.

Van Horn said the Hogs would make it through despite the bumps and bruises. On media day Monday, he concluded, "We'll be alright." He said all pitchers will be on a pitch count of no more than 60, although he wants to see a lot of a deep pitching staff.

Van Horn didn't provide a batting order, but he did run through the possible starters position by position. Forsythe will anchor the lineup at third base. Junior transfer Scott Lyons is the likely starter at shortstop. Senior returnee Ben Tschepikow is the probable starter at second base, unless he platoons with Smalling there based on Wright State's pitching.

There are three candidates at first base led by returnee Aaron Murphree. Red-hot hitter Jacob House, a true freshman, joins Andy Wilkins, another true freshman, as two other candidates at first. Murphree also could see action in the outfield. Junior transfer Ryan Cisterna will be the starter at catcher.

Junior transfer Chase Leavitt has won the rightfield job in the outfield. With Jones out, returnee Wayne Hrozek is the likely starter in center field. Coon, if he is healthy, will start for the second straight year in left. Wilkins is among those likely to see action as the designated hitter this weekend.

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