Baseball News & Notes

The Cardinal are roughly one-third of the way through the regular season. Expectations were high for this young club coming into the season, but the team got off to a slow start dropping two early series'. But that's all in the past now, as the hitting has picked up and the pitching has been solid which has led to four consecutive series wins. Read on for all the latest news and notes, plus some interesting injury tidbits.

Random Notes:

* Carlos Quentin has taken over the team-lead in batting average at .378.  The junior rightfielder has only one homer, but has hit seven doubles, walked 18 times, has an on-base percentage of .515 and has stolen six bases, all team-highs (tied with Hall for the SB lead).

* Quentin is one of 16 players on Baseball America's National Player of the Year watch.

* Sam Fuld is hitting .351 since his 0-for-14 start to the season.

* Stanford's team batting average, which was in the .270 range just a few weeks ago, is all the way up to .314.  The 2002 Cardinal hit .318 as a team.

* John Mayberry, Jr. has certainly lived up to the hype thus far.  The freshman first baseman will bring a 14-game hitting streak into the ASU series, is batting .371 on the season, has hit five triples, and has 17 RBI.

* Danny Putnam has emerged as a big-time hitter in the middle of the lineup after getting limited playing time as a freshman.  He's second on the team with a .377 batting average while he's clubbed four homers and driven in 19.  Putnam was the seventh highest ranked player in the annual top 100 lists prior to the start of his senior year (behind Chris Carter, Billy Paganetti, Mark Jecmen, Donny Lucy, Moses Kopmar, and Steve Papazian), but an unbelievable senior year of high school (was named the California High School Player of the Year) and now this outstanding start to his sophomore campaign has vaulted him to the top of the sophomore class list, in terms of on-field performance (Carter is a very close second when you consider how well he played the last month of last season).

* John Hudgins is now 13-2 as a weekend starter dating back to March, 2002 when he was first placed in the starting rotation.  The junior righthander is first in the conference in strikeouts and innings pitched, tied for fourth in wins, and sixth in ERA.

* Freshman Mark Romanczuk is tied for league lead in wins with five.

* Six freshmen - Mayberry, Jr., Romanczuk, Matt Manship, Kodiak Quick, Chris Lewis, and Jed Lowrie - have made significant contributions thus far in 2003.  Some of the numbers these players are putting up are pretty amazing when you consider that it's very rare for freshmen to play this well at such an early stage in their careers.  Consider John Mayberry. Jr's early success.  By comparison, Sam Fuld and Carlos Quentin didn't get off to nearly as hot a start to their careers (Quentin was hitting around .320, Fuld in the low-.200's entering Pac-10 play in 2001).  Donny Lucy was hitting .276 heading into conference play last season.  You have to go back to Joe Borchard and his freshman year of 1998 to find a player who's was playing this well to begin their Stanford career.  Joe was hitting around .400 in late March of 1998.  In addition, John Gall in 1997 got out of the gate hot as he started from Day One and hit over .370 his freshman year.  Looking over the last ten seasons, I'd have to put Borchard, Gall, and Mayberry, Jr. in the top tier of players to start their careers this well with the bat.  Not bad company for Junior to be in.  One other note regarding the freshmen and specifically Mark Romanczuk.  You have to go back to Kyle Peterson's magical season of 1995 (when we went 14-1) to find a freshman pitcher that has started so well in terms of win-loss record (Romanczuk is 5-0).

Injury News:

* Good news on the injury front for Stanford ... sophomore Chris Carter is playing in intra-squad games now, both hitting and playing in the outfield.  In Tuesday's intra-squad game, Carter went 4-for-7 at the plate with four of his hits being singles.  Three of the four hits were hard line drives or ground balls while one was a bloop hit to center.  He also filed out to deep left in one of his AB's.  His swing doesn't look like it's all the way back yet as we grew accustomed to seeing a very powerful hack from Carter last year.  He's still swinging pretty hard though and you can't argue with a 4-for-7 game.

* Tim Cunningham threw on the side on Tuesday (not a bullpen session just played catch with another player).  That's a good sign as he had been unable to throw the past few weeks because the broken finger was on his pitching hand.

* Billy Paganetti threw a bullpen session on Tuesday as well.  Paganetti has been out for the last month with a sore arm, so this also was good to see.

Tuesday's Intra-squad Game:

* Drew Ehrlich, Kodiak Quick, Mark Jecmen, Jeff Gilmore, and Jonny Dyer all threw in the intra-squad game on Tuesday.  Quick continued to look very good with two easy shutout innings.  Jecmen walked a few batters in his three innings of work, but gave up only one or two hits and didn't allow a run.  He wasn't in complete control out on the mound, but looked better than he had been pitching in games.  One guy who really stood out Tuesday was freshman righthander Jeff Gilmore.  Gilmore has thrown in two games this year and hasn't allowed a hit in two innings of work.  In the intra-squad game, Gilmore fired four scoreless innings.  He doesn't blow you away with anything, but has good stuff and was locating well, for the most part.  I could see Gilmore getting some action on Tuesday's nights in the near future and he has all the looks of someone who will be a very solid reliever during his time on The Farm.  Jonny Dyer, on the other hand, was a hit around a bit during his three-inning stint on Tuesday. In terms of the hitters, there was nothing really spectacular.  Jonny Ash had three or four hits as he's really swinging it well right now.

* It will be interesting to see where Carter is put in the lineup once he gets back in there.  Against right handers, we may see Coach Marquess put Chris back in the leadoff spot where he was so effective last season.  A real underrated part of Carter's game is his ability to get on base as he's got a great eye and draws lots of walks.  Traditionally, Marquess has not been afraid to use one of his better power hitters in the top spot (Craig Thompson in 2000 and Chris O'Riordan in 2001 and 2002) so we may see Carter slide back into the leadoff position.  If he does, I would imagine Fuld stays at #2 and Hall moves down to #7.  That would be quite a lineup.  Against lefties, Carter may be in the lineup, but further down in the order (with Hall leading off), or Chris may not even be in there.  If he's not, Donny Lucy may get some starts at catcher with Garko shifting to DH.  Incidentally, Lucy has been suffering from a bad hamstring but was behind the plate for a lot of the game yesterday and also beat out an infield single against Cal last Sunday.  Another good sign for one of Stanford's walking wounded.

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