Pomeranz Is Ready

Drew Pomeranz has been waiting a long time to pitch this year. Almost two weeks into the season, he'll finally get that chance Tuesday as the Rebels host Arkansas State at 6:30 p.m.

(This game with the Indians was originally scheduled for Jonesboro. But the game was moved to Oxford because wintry conditions left the ASU field in less than favorable shape for a game at this time.)

Suspended the first weekend because of a team rules violation several months ago, Pomeranz said he was all set and ready to pitch game two of the TCU series Saturday. And then it was postponed until Sunday.

"I was ready to play," he said. "I was in the clubhouse eating a sandwich. They came in and said we're not playing. I was like ‘crap.' And then we went to eat after the game, and it had stopped. I was like, maybe we could have gotten it in."

Even when reminded how cold and damp the conditions were Saturday evening, Pomeranz said he was still disappointed.

"I wanted to pitch bad, man," he said.

And he still does. After being snowed out Sunday, in what would have been his first start of '09, he can't wait to get out there.

"I'm definitely ready to throw," the sophomore left-hander from Collierville, Tenn., said. "Hopefully we'll get the one in Tuesday."

Certainly for the Rebels, they hope that's the case. They need to play – and win – games, now standing at .500 six games in.

But there's more to it than that. Pomeranz needs to pitch in a game. He is one of the weekend starters for the Rebels. And after he starts Tuesday night, he'll start again Saturday against Vermont – weather permitting, of course.

Pomeranz will be on a pitch count against the Indians, and Coach Mike Bianco said he won't go all that long.

"We've got to get him out on the field," Bianco said. "He will likely go about three innings. Then we'll bring in Phillip Irwin. Depending on how he feels, he will go about three to five innings, because he will have another day (of rest before he starts Sunday against Vermont.) We'll keep the rotation for the weekend as it was supposed to be this past weekend."

That's junior RHP Aaron Barrett Friday night, Pomeranz Saturday, and Irwin, a junior RHP, Sunday. He also said senior RHP Scott Bittle will pitch against ASU.

"He has to throw at least one inning," he said of the Rebs' closer. "This is all kinda pre-rehearsed because those guys all didn't throw (against TCU)."

Pomeranz didn't pitch much in the fall either. He was battling a health issue.

"I feel fine now but I had pneumonia in the fall for about two months," he said. "It was miserable. Then I started getting back in shape. I pitched bullpens when we got back for the spring (semester)."

In a way, Pomeranz said the longer layoff from pitching, especially lately, has made him feel even more ready to go physically.

"It kinda almost helped me pitching this late," he said, "because now my arm is definitely in good shape and I'm ready to throw."

Last season as a true freshman, the talented 6-foot-5, 230-pounder made 17 appearances with 11 starts, 71.1 innings with a 4-3 record and a 4.16 ERA. He struck out 81, walked 30, and allowed 76 hits. He had a team-high seven wild pitches and also hit five batters.

He says he knows much more about pitching at this level now than a year ago.

"I came in here last year not realizing how much you need to hit your spots," Pomeranz said. "In high school you can get away with throwing balls hard anywhere, and people swing and miss. I definitely found out last year that a big thing is you need to keep it down with velocity. So this year I definitely have a better understanding of what I need to do on the mound."

He thought until Monday that first start this season would come in Jonesboro. Now it comes at home Tuesday night.

"Either way, it doesn't matter," he said of the locale. "It's just good to be getting started."

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