FAYETTEVILLE – Less than a month after suffering a torn labrum in the season-opener, second baseman Bo Bigham is expected to return to the lineup today when Arkansas hosts South Dakota State at 3:05 p.m.
It's the first of a two-game midweek series with the Jackrabbits and the first in a five-game home stand for the No. 14 Razorbacks (8-2) at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas is coming off a weekend in which it took two of three games at California. Bigham saw action in Friday's game, scoring as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and flying out at the plate in the ninth.
"I kind of left it up to him over the weekend and his comments to me were that he would be ready to start and play this week," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He'll either go Tuesday or Wednesday and get a start, and hopefully by the weekend he'll get better and get ready for that LSU series."
Sophomore Tim Carver has filled in admirably in Bigham's absence. The Fayetteville native is leading the team in hitting with a .394 average and hit two home runs in Saturday's win over the Bears. Van Horn said he will likely move Carver back to his natural position at shortstop when Bigham returns, replacing freshman Matt Reynolds.
"He's swinging a hot bat and just brings a lot to the game," Van Horn said. "If we can get Bo healthy and ready to go by LSU, that's what I'm hoping to do. We played Tim at short on Sunday to give him some reps there.
"Matt Reynolds has played well at short and struggled at the plate, though he's been a tough out lately. But we've got to get Tim in there because he's been swinging the bat so well."
Those won't be the only lineup changes in the midweek, Van Horn said, in an effort to give some starters rest and get experience for younger players.
"I'll mix it up a little this week," Van Horn said. "I'll give Kyle Atkins a start. He's been a great base runner for us and can play in the field. I'll try to get Matt Vinson in there a little bit, too.
"I'm sure Monk Kreder will catch one of the ballgames. He did well last week. James did a great job as usual at Cal but he'll probably get a break Tuesday."
It will mark the first time Arkansas has played two games in the midweek this season. After using several arms out of the bullpen at Cal, the Razorbacks will send two new starters to the mound. Senior right-hander Sam Murphy will get the start Tuesday and freshman left-hander Randall Fant will start Wednesday.
Fant, a Texarkana native, was selected in the 21st round of the MLB Draft last summer by the Boston Red Sox. The Texas High product has battled shoulder injuries since the fall and hasn't pitched yet this season.
"He's healthy now and we need to get him some experience," Van Horn said.
South Dakota State is 5-2 on the season. The Jackrabbits scored 59 runs over the weekend in taking three of four games from the Air Force Academy.
"They can hit," Van Horn said. "Even in their losses they're scoring 10 or 11 runs per game, so we're going to have to swing the bats."
Arkansas follows up its midweek series with a three-game series this weekend against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Van Horn said it will be important for his team to respond to its success against Cal by playing well against teams with non-marquee names.
"This is a week set up for bad things to happen for us," Van Horn said. "We have to come out ready to play mentally. We'll find out what kind maturity this team has. We lost Sunday after playing well and had a long travel getting back here and now we're playing teams that might not be from well-known conferences but we've got to go play or these teams will beat us."
Bigham expected to return
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…
These rival helmet color swaps are revoltingSwapping rival teams' helmet colors? It shouldn't have been done, but someone did it anyway.
Post-July 2017 Top 100 Player RankingsWith the July evaluation periods, Nike Skills Academy, adidas Nations and Under Armour's Elite 24 over, Scout's basketball recruiting team has updated the 2017 top 100. DeAndre…
2017 South Region Top 150The stars are lined up in the 2017 South Top 150 and you can see the full pre-season list here...