With the 2010 season just two weeks away, the team has been in full practice mode, taking batting practice and running situational drills inside Mellencamp Pavilion every afternoon since Monday.
IU coach Tracy Smith was quick to compliment sophomore pitchers Blake Monar and Matt Igel’s production down the stretch, but said he is wary of the rest of the rotation at Media Day on Thursday.
“Truthfully, after that point, I don’t know. It’ll take two or three weeks of competition for us to figure that out.”
Of the certainties Smith did mention were sophomore Alex Dickerson in left field, junior Brian Lambert leading off playing centerfield and junior Jerrud Sabourin at first base.
IU lost seven players to the 2009 MLB draft, including four hitters that combined to hit 29 home runs last year. So while the offensive production might not be as high-powered as last season’s, the team is still optimistic about this year.
“It won’t be as powerful, but I really think we’ll have more speed and more contact hitters this year,” Dickerson said. “We’ll have to manufacture runs. I mean, we won’t be a bomb-squad team, but I really do feel we’re going to scrape the runs across, play good defense and win some ballgames.”
Enter sophomore Matt Ernest, who played wide receiver for IU football this past fall. IU recruited Ernest out of high school, but he decided to go the football route. He approached the coaching staff about the possibility of coming out for the team, and he was throwing in the 90s during a tryout. Ernest might be IU’s hardest thrower, and Smith said he could see him in the rotation this season.
“Right now, and what I saw yesterday, he is truthfully as good as we got,” Smith said. “I just don’t know where his arm is going to be at this point endurance wise. His stuff is as good as we have.”
While there is still time before the team heads out to San Diego to play a four-game series against the Toreros, Smith mentioned it could very well take until Big Ten play begins before a consistent rotation is determined.