Shortstop Shortage?

After troubling Ole Miss through most of 2008, the shortstop position continues to provide storylines as the offseason settles in. All four players associated with the position have question marks, including one letterwinner that is no longer a Rebel.

Sean Stuyverson

The Tallahassee, Fla., native spent one season in Oxford and will not return for his senior campaign. Stuyverson is believed to be heading back to Florida State, where he spent his freshman season, to finish his academic work. The Okaloosa-Walton Junior College transfer hit .233 in 35 games (25 starts) for Ole Miss in 2008 and was plagued by a lowly fielding percentage of .883. Stuyverson was given an opportunity to take the starting spot permanently after Evan Button was injured, but lackluster defense and an inability to produce quality at-bats helped freshman Tim Ferguson come away the winner.

Tim Ferguson

Speaking of Ferguson, the rising sophomore has been hampered by an injured labrum that has gotten progressively worse since the latter part of this past season. The Beaumont, Texas native's MRI was negative, so surgery will not be necessary. Ferguson will rehabilitate the injury and is expected to be 100 percent for fall work, however, that could very well not be at shortstop. Ferguson may be moved to second base or the outfield in 2009 after struggling with throws to first base last year. Ferguson's bat will most likely put him somewhere in the lineup, as he led the team with two triples and sparked the offense, especially late in the season. Ferguson hit .289 in 2008, and the injury doesn't affect his ability to swing.

Evan Button

Button had been billed as the heir apparent to Zack Cozart since arriving in Oxford, but a stress fracture in his back ended Button's 2008 season after just 13 starts. The rising senior should be able to regain the year of eligibility thanks to a medical redshirt. After having to sit out the Sunday contest against Mississippi State, Button was inactive the rest of the season. He attempted to come back at Alabama and at Kentucky, but the injury wouldn't allow it. The favorite if healthy, Button has been able to field ground balls and take batting practice for a couple weeks now. He figures to be full strength for fall camp if no setbacks occur.

Kevin Mort

Mort, who was recently signed out of Rio Hondo Junior College, is a bit of an unknown and must successfully navigate two summer school classes to gain eligibility. Sporting solid numbers but less than stellar offers, Mort will be asked to compete for a starting spot at best and be counted on for quality depth at worst. The rising junior hit .388 this past season for the Roadrunners and fielded at a .935 clip. Before Ole Miss entered the scene, Mort was weighing his options at either Northern Colorado or Lindenwood (NAIA school in St. Charles, Mo.), but the lack of attention appears to be because of the academic issues. Mort could be valuable if Button and/or Ferguson continue to be plagued by injuries.

Extra Innings

Matt Smith will not have surgery on his elbow and is rehabbing the UCL this summer. He will no longer attempt to pitch…Yogi Gunther and Garrett Duff are two others not returning next season...Scott Bittle remains unsigned…Jake Morgan's arm injury isn't as severe as once thought.

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