Slamming the door shut

CLEMSON - Scott Weismann is back where he expected to be upon his arrival to Clemson in the fall of 2008.

The 6-foot, 190-pound junior from Boxborough, Mass. is back in the bullpen after serving as a starter in the Tigers' weekend rotation.

"Starting was a lot of fun. I did feel comfortable. It just didn't work out," Weismann said earlier this week. "I've just got a lot of confidence right now in the closing role. It's a good fit."

An 18th round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers as a high school senior, Weismann turned down a the professional opportunity for a collegiate career.

As a freshman, he had a 1.23 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with 28 strikeouts in 17 appearances. Opposing batters hit just .206.

Weismann showed promise in his three starts as a freshman and was given a shot as a weekend starter in 2010. In 18 starts (19 appearances), he went 9-2 with a 4.90 ERA in 97 1/3 innings. He retired 73 batters on strikes and issued 34 walks.

The beginning of his 2011 season, however, was rocky. In eight starts, Weismann went 3-4 with a 7.41 ERA. In 34 innings, he gave up 51 hits, recorded 26 strikeouts and walked 12.

"I think my arm just wasn't working as well as it did last year in a starting role," he said.

Despite his start against Western Carolina on April 6--the best of his season--Weismann was moved to the bullpen. He was brought on in relief against Maryland four days later. Since then, he's been used in relief 13 more times.

"It's a quick adjustment to the ‘pen," Weismann said. "Everything just changed quickly."

His ERA ha dropped to 4.94 and he now leads the Tigers with seven saves.

Weismann has a renewed sense of confidence since moving into the closer's role.

"Everything is a tick higher," he said. "The fastball is a little harder. The slider is a little sharper. My splitter has felt good. It's been a good transition."

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett is pleased with the production he's seen from Weismann.

"It's been a good move for him," Leggett said. "I think he feels really comfortable in that position as a closer, coming in late in the game, giving us his effort in a short period of time. He likes it.

"I think he comes to the ballpark on edge, ready to pitch."

Indeed he does.

"As a closer, you've got to stay in every game," Weismann said. "I've had a lot of opportunities so far. I feel like I've been going in every other game. It's good to get as many games as you can, as a reliever like that."

Usually around the fifth or sixth inning, his routine will start with a walk to the bullpen.

"If we're at home, I'll start warming up in the top of the eighth, maybe the bottom of the eighth," Weismann said. "I'll throw a little bit from behind the mound. I'll get on the mound and throw three of each pitch. It doesn't take long. There's not a lot to it."

Leggett said Weismann's emergence as a closer is attributed to both his mental and physical prowess.

"Anytime you're closing a lot of it's mental, because you can have men on base, you can be in crucial situations," Leggett said. "He's come on strong mentally, as well as physically."

Weismann will need to be ready to bring both when Clemson opens NCAA Tournament play against Sacred Heart on Friday night at 7 p.m.


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