Vacancy Filled

A familiar face is headed back to Coral Gables. J. D. Arteaga, who pitched at the University of Miami from 1994-97 and helped the Hurricanes to four consecutive College World Series appearances with a school-record 43 victories, was named the Hurricanes new pitching coach on Tuesday after several days of uncertainty at the position.

Arteaga steps in for Lazaro Collazo who resigned last week on the heels of the Hurricanes being placed on probation over the next three seasons after a 22-month investigation uncovered wrongdoings within the program. Most of the investigation centered on Collazo and a baseball academy he operated.

"J. D. is the perfect person to come in at this point and time," said UM coach Jim Morris who along with assistant Greg Lovelady assisted in calling pitches in last weekend's series against the Citadel. "It's a crucial time in our season and it is a tough time right in the middle of our season for this change to be made. But J. D. is a guy that knows our system, played in our system, knows our players and he is going to command instant respect from our players. He has all the things you could possibly want in the person you are bringing in."

Arteaga, who left the school ranked fifth in strikeouts with 343, had spent the last five years in the New York Mets and Houston Astros organizations. Arteaga went 9-10 with a 4.29 ERA last season at New Orleans (AAA) with the Astros. He won a career-high 12 games as a junior at UM in 1996.

And Arteaga is eager to get back in the dugout with the Hurricanes- even if it meant giving up on a lifelong dream.

"It was a very tough decision to give up a dream (of playing in the major leagues) for a dream job," said Arteaga. "I weighed out both options and the opportunity for me here was just too good. It's an honor to be part of the best program in the country. I felt that when I played and same now that I'm a coach."

Under Collazo, who coached the pitching staff for 17 years before resigning last week, Miami routinely developed some of the best arms and rotations in the nation. Collazo built a reputation for molding young pitchers and making the most out of their potential. Already this season, the Hurricanes staff has a 3.32 ERA and seven victories from their top three starters. Miami finished the 2002 season with a 5.23 ERA.

Arteaga will assume his role immediately and travel with the Hurricanes this weekend when they face the University of Tennessee.

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