Baseball: 2005 Starters

Baseball head coach Jim Morris enters the 2005 season in his 12th year at the University of Miami. In pre-season polls the Hurricanes were ranked second by Collegiate Baseball and fifth by Baseball America. The season begins on February 1 as the Hurricanes host FIU at 7:00.

Things can change between now and next Tuesday, but here are the current starters by position according to coach Jim Morris.

2005 STARTERS

C Eddy Rodriguez, Sophomore, .231, 0 HR 6 RBI 0 SB or Alex Garabedian, Freshman
"It is still a battle behind the plate with Eddy and Alex," Morris said. "Eddy probably has a little bit of an advantage on him—of course he has a year of experience. Both of them are playing really good."

1B Danny Valencia, Sophomore, .338, 8 HR 36 RBI 0 SB *at UNC-Greensboro

2B Paco Figueroa, Senior, .373, 3 HR 19 RBI 18 SB

SS Roger Tomas, Sophomore, .339, 0 HR 16 RBI 4 SB

3B Ryan Braun, Junior, .335, 10 HR 45 RBI 21 SB

LF Jon Jay, Sophomore, .368, 6 HR 56 RBI 19 SB

CF Danny Figueroa, Senior, .325, 3 HR 28 RBI 40 SB *2003

RF Brendan Katin, Senior, .283, 6 HR 24 RBI 5 SB

DH Gaby Sanchez, Junior, .316, 7 HR 47 RBI 7 SB

SP Cesar Carrillo, Junior, 12-0, 2.69 ERA 113 IP 91 K

CL Danny Gil, Sophomore, 8-0, 3.03 ERA 38 IP 49 K or Jon McLean, Junior
"Gil is not throwing as well this spring or fall as he did last year when he had an All-American year," Morris said. McLean is a sidewinder with a funky motion that screws up hitters. They are fighting it out for that closer's role."

ON THE BENCH

Walter Diaz can play both middle infielder positions and possibly third base…Danny Robitaille has primarily been playing third base…Patrick Feeny is a walk-on outfielder that will be primarily used as a defensive replacement or as a pinch runner…Kevin Santiago is a walk-on catcher that will be the team's bullpen catcher.

TEAM NOTES

· The team found out on Friday that Andy Bennett, a junior college transfer, will have to have knee surgery and will be out about a month. He is expected to return early-to-mid March.

· DH Gaby Sanchez & RHP Marcelo Albir were suspended on Friday for violation of University policy. The length of their suspension is unknown.

· OF Danny Figueroa is re-cooperating from his shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the 2003 season. He is not full-speed as far as throwing. If he is unable to regain his strength, look for his brother Paco Figueroa to take his spot in centerfield.

· Depth with position players will be a concern this year for the Hurricanes and they can not sustain the five injuries and two players who were kicked off the team like they had to do 2004 if they plan on returning to the College World Series.

· RHP Cesar Carrillo and IF Ryan Braun both could be selected in the first round of this year's draft. If they are selected, they would be the first Hurricane teammates drafted in the first round since 1982. Alex Fernandez (1989) was the last pitcher to be taken in the first round and Pat Burrell (1998) was the last Hurricane drafted in round one.

STARTING ROTATION

With Carrillo as the number one, the other three spots are open between Brandon Camardese, Vince Bongiovanni, Dan Touchet, Chris Perez, and Ricky Orta.

"If they all come out equal here we will probably go out with the older guys," Morris said.

Sophomore Chris Perez has impressed his teammates and coach Morris in the off-season. Last year he had a 7.71 ERA and recorded 30 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.

"Perez may have as good as stuff as anyone on our team," Morris said. "He is guy that throws in the 90's with a good, hard breaking ball—one that will bend your knees. He has to throw the ball over the plate and locate a little bit better. Perez has great stuff and is going to be a great pitcher for us."

Although Morris lets pitching coach J.D. Arteaga handle the pitchers he does tell them one thing.

"I tell our pitchers, what does pitching have in common with real estate? Location, location, and location," Morris said. "With pitching you have to: 1) hit your spots; 2) have movement; and 3) have velocity). Velocity is not number one like a lot of people think. Bottom-line is that good hitters are going to hit any pitch in the middle of the strike zone."

ALUMNI GAME

The annual alumni game is Saturday, January 29 at 7:00 pm. Among the alumni team members is Alex Cora, who will be making his return to campus for the first time since he finished his career as a Hurricane in 1996.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com.

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