Healing and Hoping

When you're sitting at home this week from a conference tournament like the baseball Rebels are, you try to draw on any and all positives you can. That's what the Ole Miss players have done and continue to do.

Like healing up a bit and getting back to as close to 100 percent as a few days from intense competition will allow.

"It gives the guys that are banged up a few days off," said sophomore infielder Alex Yarbrough. "It's a few days without practice (early in the week), and without having to put the body through more wear and tear. Also we get to work on some of the things we need to in more of a practice environment instead of games."

Matt Smith is one who is using this time to get better. He is trying to get his left/glove hand healed up from a broken bone in his middle finger and subsequent surgery the first week of May.

"It's good, a lot better," the fifth-year senior outfielder said of his situation. "I'm still just (working on) strength and stuff like that. It feels a lot better. I've got all my motion back. Strength-wise is the only thing I've got to work on."

Smith said at Arkansas his hand was still giving him some problems, which was to be expected so soon after surgery.

"Some of the swings didn't feel as great as others," he said. "I guess you could say, yeah, it hurt. It didn't feel great, but nothing too out of the usual."

Smith said Hoover was obviously one team goal, but the time away from games is beneficial to health and well being.

"Definitely," he said. "Being able to rest is going to help everybody. That's good for anybody later in the year."

Jake Morgan is another who can clearly use the time off. The veteran closer continues to try to get back as close to normal as he can following weeks of shoulder problems and pain.

"Just a lot of discomfort, didn't have a good feel," Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said of Morgan not being available for the last two games of the regular season at Arkansas. "He couldn't really control either of his pitches. Just did everything he could. But he could not get ready to get in the game."

Bianco said he agrees with the players that some time off can be beneficial at this point in a season.

Alex Yarbrough
Bruce Newman
"It's a positive if you talk about physically," he said of missing the Southeastern Conference Tournament. "There's something to be said about resting. It was a long season. It was 14 weeks. Lot of guys nicked up. Even the guys that aren't, it gives those guys an opportunity to get their legs back under them."

Smith said the Rebels are trying to stay the course, so to speak, as they prepare for whatever Monday brings – hopefully the news they want to hear.

"We need to stay in the swing of things, let the pitchers get the innings," Smith said. "We need to see the pitching. You can't hope to get into postseason and not practice and not play. Just pretty much do the same things and work hard and stay hopeful."

Bianco said there has been a plan of action as they look toward Monday.

"We've taken several days off, to give them a little bit of a break," he said. "We intrasquad (Thursday, Friday and) Sunday. We'll throw all the pitchers a big enough load that they don't throw just an inning or two, that they're ready for next week to start and go deep into a game. Certainly for the position players it's important to get live at-bats and to stay sharp."

Yarbrough said the Rebels were disappointed not making Hoover, and they hope to offset that with being able to play in the NCAA Tournament next week.

"I think we've all gotten over that," he said of the fact that they didn't advance to the league's tournament. "It really hurt that day and a couple of days after that. But we've all come to terms with it and realized that all we can do now is focus on getting better and trying to get in a Regional."

He admits to not knowing nor having a feeling one way or the other.

"I really have no idea," Yarbrough said. "Coach Bianco went over a lot of scenarios about RPI and stuff with us. I wish I knew. I wish we had a better grasp on it. But we really have no idea."

Bianco said being in Oxford this week is certainly not where they wanted to be.

"The truth is we'd rather be somewhere than we are right now," he said.

As for next week, they hope to be somewhere else as well.

OM Spirit Top Stories