Hogs may get Bigham back soon

Bo Bigham is improving rapidly after sustaining an injury in the season opener, but head coach Dave Van Horn wants to watch him a bit longer.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said doctors have seen Bo Bigham swing a bat and cleared him to play, but the skipper said he may wait a bit before putting the second baseman back in the lineup.

"We are going to look at him Thursday and see how it feels," Van Horn said. "He will travel this weekend to Cal."

Bigham, a key part of the drive to the College World Series last season, sustained a torn labrum to his left shoulder in the season opener 10 days ago. Doctors initially said the injury could keep Bigham out four weeks. Now it may not take him so long.

"Bo is tough," Van Horn said. "He took ground balls before all the games this weekend. He is swinging a bat. He is cleared to play, but I may wait a bit. I want to see him a little longer. I don't know if I'm going to play him just yet.

"This is an injury that when a football player has it, he plays the next weekend. But a football player doesn't have to swing a bat. He's simulating a swing now and is not having any pain. We just want to see more from him."

The Hogs will go with senior T. J. Forrest on the mound Tuesday against Kansas. Game time at Baum Stadium is 3:05 p.m. However, come early if you want to see Forrest. He may not be out there long.

"We've got it figured out who is available," Van Horn said. "We've got a lot of guys. We have guys who can throw 300 pitches. Forrest will be first and will have a limit of about 40. We've got a lot that can throw 30. Now we hope we don't need 300 pitches."

Van Horn said Forrest has impressed in his to outings in the Hogs' 5-1 start.

"T. J. did a great job," Van Horn said. "He's got a new pitch, a cut fastball. It's a little like a slider. It's been outstanding."

As far as others scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Jayhawks, Van Horn said he wasn't set on an order but suggested it would probably be Geoffrey Davenport, Jeremy Heatley, Sam Murphy, James Pratt and DJ Baxendale.

"Baxendale could close if we need that," Van Horn said. "He's done well so far. He looks good in that role. I will also say that he could be a starter, too, if wee need that later this season."

Van Horn said the starting rotation on the weekend at Cal will be Mike Bolsinger, Drew Smyly and Brett Eibner. There is some concern with Eibner.

"He lost feel in his fingers on Sunday," Van Horn said. "He's had trouble with that before. He lost command at one point and he said that was the problem. We think he'll be OK, but we want to watch that."

Van Horn has been pleased with most aspects of the team's play in the first two weekends. But he knows the foes get tougher starting now.

"Kansas is a solid Big 12 team," Van Horn said. "They are picked in the middle of the Big 12, but they've played better than that. They got rained out the last game Sunday so they have a starter they can move into the Tuesday game. We'll see him. And when you talk about Cal, you know they are really talented. They don't play a midweek game so they have everyone ready and rested for us."

Van Horn likes the approach the Hogs have taken at the plate. They have earned 29 walks against only 29 strikeouts, a good ratio.

"Anytime you are even in those two categories, you are doing good," he said. "Then you add in 16 hit by pitchers and you are way ahead. That's an amazing stat."

Van Horn said he had to apologize to the umpire over one hit by pitcher.

"James McCann kicked at one," Van Horn said. "I argued for him and the ump said he just kicked at it. I said he didn't. Later I talked to McCann and he told me, 'Coach, I just kicked at it.' So I apologized for that one. I told the umpire that James had admitted to it."

There was a first for a Van Horn team at Arkansas on Sunday. They didn't have a strikeout. The UA sports information office has researched the last seven seasons, the time Van Horn has been the head coach. It is the only time the Hogs have gone without a strikeout. There have been several instances of just one.

"That's really rare," Van Horn said. "We had a two-strike count 12 times and we really battled. That's going to lead to some runs, putting it in play. We've done well with two strikes so far."

Van Horn said he'll have to find a new first base coach for the Kansas game and maybe early in the Cal series. Assistant coach Chris Curry and his wife Chassity are expecting their first child this week.

"They are going to induce labor Tuesday," Van Horn said. "So someone else is going to have to coach first. It won't be me. I think it will probably be Coach (Dave) Jorn."

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