Nebraska Baseball Head Coach Darin Erstad held his weekly press conference this afternoon. Out of all the news and notes, here are some storylines to follow in the next two weeks before the season starts.
Erstad said that besides the expected scrapes and bruises from a full week of practice, that the team is relatively healthy. Derek Burkamper is continuing to work his way back from shoulder tightness and could throw out of the pen next weekend.
Jake McSteen and Jake Hohensee are both expected to be back in time for the season opener down in Tempe. Erstad said he would be careful, and not pitch any previously injured pitcher more than one time during a weekend.
Zack Engelken will be out until at least mid-March, as he continues recovering from surgery as well.
With the Huskers playing eight games in the first two weekends combined, expect a number of different pitchers to be used. Erstad cautioned to not read much into the rotation he starts in the first weekend, as he pointed out how much it changed last season.
Paul Tillotson is projected to join the rotation, replacing Burkamper who will work a swing roll out of the bullpen. Matt Waldron and Jake Meyers return to anchor down the last two spots in the rotation.
Erstad has said the Luis Alvarado will get the opportunity to pitch more, as he is very raw but has high potential. Likewise, Ben Miller will get more opportunities on the mound, as the Huskers hope to have a deep staff of relief pitches
Starting Lineup Notes
Erstad made no doubt that he wants his best hitters at the top of the lineup. When asked, he said his preferred lineup starts with Meyers leading off followed by Scott Schreiber, Ben Miller, and Jesse Wilkening.
With the left side of the infield up for grabs, it appears graduate transfer Alex Raburn leads in the competition at shortstop. Erstad praised Raburn’s flexability, saying he could play most positions for the Huskers.
When it comes to third base, junior college transfer Brison Cronenbold appears to have an edge over the competition.
Due to a violation of team rules, Jake Hohensee is ineligible to play the first five games of the season. The specific violation was not disclosed, and occurred last year when he was injured.
Overall, the Huskers head into the year with what Erstad said was his deepest team in terms of talent. Husker Baseball kicks off next Friday, February 17, when the Huskers meet the University of California Riverside Highlanders in Tempe Arizona. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 PM.