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Friday, Dec. 8
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Unable to pitch, Monar contributes in batter's box


There’s a good chance IU coach Tracy Smith never dreamed before the 2010 season that his ace pitcher would be contributing from the batter’s box instead of the pitching mound.

But because of a throwing arm injury, sophomore pitcher Blake Monar might be seeing a few more appearances at the plate for the Hoosiers (10-10) as the team takes on the St. Francis Cougars at 3 p.m. Friday and Taylor on Saturday.

Monar began the season with high expectations as the team’s No. 1 starter. Last year, he struck out 59 batters while posting a 5-3 record to go with a 4.64 ERA — all of which earned the Rockport, Ind., native a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

He managed one start this season, a rough 3.1 inning outing in the season-opener at San Diego that led to a sore throwing shoulder for the southpaw.

The diagnosis on Monar’s shoulder was eventually labeled as a strained rotator cuff, and he’s yet to return to the mound.

“I’m progressing,” Monar said after Wednesday’s 17-8 win against Xavier. “I should be long-tossing next week. I have a progression the doctor gave me, and hopefully I can get back on the mound.”

The time off hasn’t extinguished the competitive fire in Monar but has left him searching for ways to continue contributing to Smith’s team.

“I went into his office, and we just talked about how I could help the team,” Monar said. “I told him I think I could help us at the plate.”

That thought wasn’t a stab in the dark for Monar, as he led his high school team two years ago with a .644 batting average from the left side of the plate before getting drafted in the 26th round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.

Smith then started putting Monar in the lineup, having the sophomore occasionally pinch-hit in six games this season. Wednesday’s game was Monar’s best, as he pinch-hit in the seventh inning for sophomore designated hitter Josh Lyon, going 2-2 with 3 RBI in the DH slot that has struggled for the Hoosiers this year.

“Our DH position going into today has not been good,” Smith said Wednesday. “We’re going to find someone to stick in that spot that can protect Sabourin and Dickerson, because right now we’re not getting that.”

Junior first baseman Jerrud Sabourin and sophomore left fielder Alex Dickerson lead the Hoosiers in hitting, and a consistent batter in the DH spot behind them in the lineup could lead to more runs for the Hoosiers.

After Monar’s work in the late innings of the Xavier game, Smith said there’s a good chance Monar will find a few more at bats this weekend.

“Clearly, we hope we get him back on the mound, but we don’t know if that’s going to happen,” said Smith. “But, yeah, I could see him working in there a lot more now.”

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