Baseball News And Notes

On the heels of getting swept at Fullerton to open the season, it's been a busy week thus far on the Farm for the baseball squad. In this week's "News and Notes," read about Tuesday's practice game against rival Cal. Plus, a potential position change for a veteran player, injury updates, and much more.

On occasion, the Stanford Cardinal will participate in practice games against local rivals Santa Clara and California - two clubs with head coaches that were once assistants under Mark Marquess.  The point of these games is for hitters that may not have received many at-bats during the weekend contests some playing time.  Plus, it allows the pitchers who saw little or no action the past weekend to pitch an inning or two to stay fresh.  Tuesday afternoon was one of those days at Sunken Diamond as the Cardinal, fresh off of getting swept by Cal State Fullerton, took on their conference rival California.

Stanford came away with the victory in the practice contest knocking off the Golden Bears by a 7-3 score in a standard nine-inning game.  The Cardinal had a more experienced lineup on the field as the likes of Brent Milleville, Ryan Seawell, and Adam Sorgi participated in the game in an effort to get back to 100%.  Seawell (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Toby Gerhart (2-for-4, 3B, RBI) led the offensive attack.  Brendan Domaracki's RBI double into the right center field gap in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Stephen Brown to break a 3-3 tie.  Stanford went on to score three more runs in the frame to take control of the contest.

California   0 0 0  0 1 1  1 0 0   -   3   5   4
Stanford     1 1 0  0 0 1  4 0 X   -   7   9   2

Stanford           POS   AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Toby Gerhart        CF    4   2   2   1     0   0
Joey August         1B    4   0   1   0     1   0
Brent Milleville     C    4   0   0   0     0   1
Ryan Seawell        3B    3   0   2   2     0   0
J.J. Jelmini        SS    4   0   1   0     0   2
Stephen Brown       2B    3   2   0   0     1   0
Jeff Whitlow        RF    3   1   1   0     1   0
Brendan Domaracki   LF    3   1   1   1     0   0
Randy Molina        DH    3   1   1   1     0   0
Adam Sorgi          DH    3   0   0   1     0   0

E: Jelmini, Brown
2B: Domaracki
3B: Gerhart
SF: Seawell
HBP: Brown
SB: Gerhart, Jelmini

                    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Erik Davis         2.0   1   0   0   1   1
David Stringer     2.0   1   0   0   0   2
Kyle Thompson      2.0   3   2   2   3   0
Cory Bannister     2.0   0   1   1   2   1
Blake Hancock      1.0   0   0   0   0   0

Both Seawell and Milleville played the entire game after each sat out at Fullerton over the weekend.  Seawell had been participating in intrasquads in the week prior to the Fullerton series (only as a hitter) and now looks ready for actual game action.  The senior is running well and had a number of nice at-bats on Tuesday with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly. 

Milleville, unlike Seawell, was not hitting during intrasquads just prior to the Fullerton series (back injury).  His timing at the plate still looks a bit off although he did drive one fly ball to the edge of the warning track in left today.  Milleville has been playing the field for over a week now, but has just now returned 100% with his participation as a hitter.

Michael Taylor, Sean Ratliff, Austin Yount, Brian Juhl, Cord Phelps, Grant Escue, and Adam Gaylord did not play during Tuesday's game because of their regular playing time last weekend.


POSITION CHANGES - A NEW THIRD BASEMAN?
Seawell raised some eyebrows with his presence at third base during infield drills at Monday's practice and apparently it wasn't a one-day experiment as the senior was back at the hot corner for the entire practice game on Tuesday.  The move is an intriguing one, obviously.  Seawell was an above-average center fielder during the second half of last season getting excellent jumps on fly balls.  The thought was that Seawell, who also did it with the bat as a junior (.313 AVG), would return to the position this season.  Now it appears the coaching staff may be seriously looking at a move to the infield.

One of the reasons is surely the number of leg injuries (muscle-related) Seawell has endured since the summer.  Various injuries cut his summer short up in Alaska and prevented him from playing during most of Fall Ball.   Then during just the second preseason intrasquad game, Seawell suffered a hamstring injury which forced him to sit out last weekend in Fullerton as he continued to recover.  The injuries now seem behind Seawell, but a move to third base, where there is far less running than center field (or even left) could prevent a new injury - especially in the short-term. 

In addition, there is some very nice outfield depth for the Cardinal right now.  Sean Ratliff has emerged offensively and doesn't appear to be leaving the starting lineup any time soon.  Ratliff has also proven he can play a capable center field.  And while Seawell or Ratliff could certainly play left field as well, that would force the likes of Toby Gerhart, Joey August, and Brendan Domaracki to the bench. 

Another reason for a position change could be the slow recovery with Adam Sorgi's shoulder.  Sorgi still isn't ready to play shortstop and even some action at third base seems unlikely this weekend.  That leaves a hole on the left side of the infield and Seawell could fit in nicely there.

Seawell was a shortstop in high school, so playing on the infield isn't completely unfamiliar for the Menlo Park native.  He handled all of his chances flawlessly during Tuesday's game including coming in nicely on a bunt and throwing out a runner at first.  Based on observations the last two days, Seawell certainly has the arm for third base and has made nothing but accurate throws so far.  Where he may struggle is with the glove and his foot work.  Still, for playing a new position, he's looked good over at the hot corner and thus don't be surprised if you see Ryan Seawell's name at third base in the coming games.  Now that he's healthy, his bat is just too good to stay out of the lineup.

One other position change of note is August seeing action at first base during Tuesday's game.  Since Jason Castro went down with an injury a few weeks ago, August has worked out at first base from time-to-time.  A natural corner outfielder, August looks solid over at first and provides the coaching staff with another option at the position.  Milleville, Grant Escue, and Randy Molina have been playing the position in Castro's absence.


CASTRO IMPROVING
Sophomore first baseman Jason Castro continues his recovery as the East Bay native is no longer wearing a cast on his right, throwing hand.  He's not yet taking batting practice on the field, but Castro has been seen throwing lightly and swinging a bat on the side over the last two days.  While Seawell and Milleville should be in-line to make their season debuts this weekend against Fresno State, Castro is still not ready - although definite improvement has been made in the last week.


SURPRISE HITTING LEADER
Sophomore infielder Cord Phelps was the surprise hitting leader at Fullerton thanks to his 5-for-12 (.417 AVG) effort at the plate.  The switch-hitting Phelps started 28 games last season, but managed just a .196 average with no extra-base hits in 92 at-bats.  Versus the Titans, in addition to leading the club in batting average, Phelps connected for four doubles - an impressive feat after nothing but singles a year ago.

Phelps started all three games at third base, but a move to shortstop could be in order this weekend if Seawell does in fact get the nod at third.


BY-THE-NUMBERS
With a short-handed offense, the Cardinal held their own at Fullerton last weekend scoring 20 runs in the three games (6.7 AVG) while hitting .272 as a group.  Last season, Stanford averaged 5.6 runs per game while possessing a .286 team average.  Two players (Taylor and Juhl) hit home runs.

The pitching was terrible across the board as the staff allowed 29 runs to the Titans for a 10.50 ERA.  Stanford owned a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the seventh inning on Sunday before seven pitchers combined to allow 11 runs in the frame as Fullerton took a commanding lead. 


WET WEATHER AHEAD
The schedule for this weekend's series against Fresno State could definitely change due to expected wet weather.  Heavy rain is in the forecast for the Palo Alto area starting Wednesday through Saturday.  The series-opener is scheduled for Friday night at 5:00 P.M. with the games on Saturday and Sunday slated for 1:00 P.M.


ON DECK
The Cardinal will look to bounce back this weekend when they host the Bulldogs for three games at Sunken Diamond.  Stanford was swept by 14th ranked Cal State Fullerton last weekend losing games 11-5, 6-5, and 12-10.  Fresno State, an NCAA Tournament participant last season, dropped two-of-three games at home to San Francisco in their season-opening series last weekend.