Performing well during preseason camp and just a week until the start of the season, the New Wilmington, Pennsylvania native was hit by the injury bug once again. Sliding into third base during an intra-squad scrimmage Whiting suffered an injury similar to the one that sidelined quarterback Brian Brohm for a few games last fall.
Surgery and a steel pin placed into his left thumb threatened to bench Whiting, but a meeting with U of L head coach Dan McDonnell prior to the start of the season gave him the confidence to play through the injury.
"He just stressed that he had all the confidence in me and that helped me get my confidence back up," said Whiting, who had the pin removed from his thumb nearly a week ago. "I came out playing my game, a lot of small ball and using my speed to my advantage."
Blessed with speed that would make any athlete envious - he's clocked 4.3 40-yard and 6.3 60-yard times - Whiting used that to his advantage while at the plate and on the base paths.
"Speed kills," said Whiting. "Coach Mac has helped me use my speed more this year. He's been teaching me about bunting, working on my running game, getting on base and stealing bases. It's hard to defend against speed."
Whiting has played in all 12 games this season and is leading the team with a .457 average and has excelled under the aggressive base-running of a McDonnell coached team.
"He fought through the first few weeks and he's playing like he hasn't missed a beat," said McDonnell. "He has to be one of the fastest kids in the country."
Averaging more than a steal and a half a game, Whiting is quickly approaching his career best 26 stolen bases, as well as the U of L single season record of 30. In only 12 games, Whiting, who has a .568 on-base percentage, has stolen 19 bases.
"It gets to a point where it's unstoppable," said McDonnell. "I coached a young man who stole 84 bases in a year and what happens is that teams will start to concede and won't even worry about him. Some teams will figure out that it's not worth stressing out over and will let him run and just try to get the hitter. He's in that type of class."
While the Cardinals hold a 7-5 record heading into the weekend, Whiting believes that this year's squad - the first under Dan McDonnell - is one that will challenge for the Big East Conference title.
"I feel like we have a great squad this year," he said. "We've lost a couple of one-run games, which could have gone either way. We could easily be 10-2 right now. We have guys that can hit for power, guys that can hit for average and we play great defense. I think we have the best infield in the nation."
Whiting credit's the first year head coach for his, and the team's, improved play.
"He's my kind of coach," said Whiting. "He's taught me a lot and he always stays positive with us. He's a guy that you really want to play great for and play hard every day."
Cardinal Classic Weekend
The University of Louisville, the 2006 Big East Tournament runner-up, will host the Cardinal Classic this weekend at Jim Patterson Stadium. Beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Sunday, the Cardinals will welcome California, Indiana State and Kent State to the Derby City for the round-robin event.
"Once conference play starts it's a three-game series every weekend, so this is our last opportunity to create what we call a regional," said McDonnell. "This is great preparation for our kids, so we are really excited about the weekend."
"I like it a lot and Coach McDonnell always talks about a tournament atmosphere and that's what this will be like," said Whiting. "It will be like a regional atmosphere because we'll be playing a different team every day. It's going to be exciting and we hope that we can get a sweep this weekend."
The weekend schedule has California facing Kent State to open the tournament on Friday at 11:00 a.m., followed by the Cardinals taking on Indiana State at 3:00 p.m.. Kent State and Indiana State will meet Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and Louisville will host Cal at 3:00 p.m.. On Sunday ISU will play Cal at 10:00 a.m. with the Cards and Kent State closing the tournament at 2:00 p.m.
Admission to all regular season home games at Jim Patterson Stadium is free.