The "Old Arik Hempy" to Debut

With Arik Hempy being worked along towards SEC competition and Mike Cisco's recent struggles, the question was bound to come up. When is Hempy going to regain his spot in the weekend rotation, and is Mike Cisco the guy losing his spot? Coach Tanner was direct when answering both questions on Tuesday afternoon.

No, the NCAA hasn't charged Arik Hempy with obtaining an altered birth certificate. No, he did not lose eligibility. By "old Arik Hempy," Coach Tanner was referring to the Arik Hempy who posted a career 2.93 ERA in the 113.2 innings before Tommy John surgery. He was referring to the Arik Hempy who struck out 114 batters in those 113.2 innings. That's the "old" guy Carolina fans should be seeing soon.

Pitching Wednesday against Furman, Tanner aims to get Hempy back into the weekend rotation soon. When asked if a good performance against the Paladins would lead to a start next Wednesday against Clemson, Tanner responded, "Well, if he's really, really good, then he probably is NOT gonna' pitch against Clemson. We want to keep him in the SEC as much as we can and that would give him an extra few days to prepare for his first league game."

Asked how Hempy is faring against the average Tommy John victim, Tanner looked into his crystal ball a little, "The big picture says that 18 months is the more ideal setting, but it's not gonna' be 18 months. It's been just past a year now, and he's done really well. His rehab has been great. I think we have a chance to see the old Arik Hempy during the second half of the season."

A decision on Hempy's SEC return won't come until after this weekend's series in Gainesville. One decision has already been made regarding this weekend. The Saturday game will not be Mike Cisco's to start. The sophomore right hander has had a rough go of it lately.

"He's definitely not gonna' start. We're gonna' go with somebody else. We'll go Friday Honeycutt, Sunday Cooper, and we'll make a decision who we're gonna' pitch on Saturday," said Tanner.

Continuing his pre-Florida address, Tanner said, "We're not 100% sure. Maybe leaning towards (Will) Atwood. I talked to (Wynn) Pelzer. Curtis Johnson, great out of the bullpen for us, he started in Junior college. We'll make a decision later in the week."

So is Cisco hurt, or did he simply lose the job with the Vanderbilt beating? Tanner seemed unsure, enough to have tests done on him after the pounding, "Ya' know, we don't think he's injured. We did some strength testing on him after his start Saturday. Because he had pitched, you are not going to be as strong on the machines."

Tanner did say that he was thinking about giving Cisco a few days off at the very least before testing him again. Only time will tell, but at this point it's Arik Hempy against Furman Wednesday night, with an eye on Auburn ten days later.

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