Rainy Day Practice

The baseball Rebels roamed Wednesday where the football Rebels usually practice when the weather is not up to par. Inside the IPF.

At least the pitchers did. The rest of the team was hitting in the batting building at the baseball stadium.

Not surprisingly, all media eyes were waiting on Scott Bittle to enter the door, but he wasn't among the early arrivals for practice. Then he walked in.

He held his glove, dangling by his side, in his left hand. He tossed his keys to the turf with his right.

Certainly the big story for the Rebels prior to this weekend is Bittle's arm, namely that important right one. The one he pitches so effectively with. The one opposing hitters dread seeing wind up. The one that was sore Sunday which kept him off the Auburn mound.

"Day to day," said Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco, encouraged with Scott's progress, but mentioning it might actually be Sunday before they decide if he pitches in game three of the weekend series against Mississippi State here.

"We'll take it day by day," echoed Scott. "I'm always getting ready for the next outing."

What appeared to be a situation that could lend itself to moving Scott to the role of Saturday starter has changed a bit. Some have already begun to mention that you would likely want Scott to pitch in either the first or second games of a Hoover or a Super Regional. That way you don't have the opportunity to go 0-2 and never have him start.

But Sunday at Auburn in pregame warm-ups put that on hold for a bit.

"Where (Scott) was, he's been doing very well," Bianco said of the senior RHP who moved to the Sunday starter role for the LSU series in late March. "We really didn't want to break that routine and didn't want to push him and give him one less day."

But now there are other considerations, and the coaches work through them, along with Bittle and the trainer and doctors.

"Pitchers get sore arms sometimes," Bianco said of when he might be ready. "It's really kinda up to how (Scott) feels."

And it may be Sunday before we know for sure, at least for the upcoming series against the Bulldogs.

The other two starters are set against MSU (21-26 overall, 6-17 SEC). Sophomore LHP Drew Pomeranz will go Friday at 6:30 p.m., while senior LHP Brett Bukvich will start Saturday at 3 p.m.

As for Phillip Irwin, the junior RHP who is out of the starting weekend rotation for the first time in a long time, Bianco said Irwin is working to get back to his old self.

"He met with Coach (Carl) Lafferty today, and they went over some things, not major things but some things that aren't allowing him to get the ball where he normally gets it," Bianco said. "Phillip's a tremendous control guy, able to throw three and four pitches, since he's picked up a slider. It was really his most effective pitch at Auburn. He struck all three guys out with it in the first inning.

"His curve ball-strike percentage was way down," Bianco continued. "If he had to throw a fast ball for a strike against Auburn, it was up in the zone and that's not him. When he was effective earlier in the year, he was down in the zone. He could throw his curve ball at will for strikes. And he's got to get back to pitching like that."

The Rebels, 36-13 on the season and tied for first place overall in the Southeastern Conference at 16-8, along with LSU and Florida, will try to practice outside Thursday as a whole unit, weather permitting.

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