The 2014 season has certainly been somewhat of a roller coaster for the Arizona Wildcats on the diamond. There's also some stuff going on off the diamond that will throw even more challenges at this team as it tries to return to the postseason.
Joseph Maggi suspended indefinitely
The junior outfielder has been suspended indefinitely from the club due to a "violation of team rules" per head coach Andy Lopez. While Lopez couldn't go into details because of "the legal issues", it does not seem like Maggi will be returning to the Wildcat lineup anytime soon.
"He's indefinitely suspended right now," said Coach Lopez. "I've talked to him, and he understood the situation, and I'm sure he's not happy with the situation and I'm not happy with it. But you're a young guy and sometimes you kind of have to pay for your actions. It's the real world."
"Violation of team rules would definitely cover it."
"We've got a lot of games and we're going to revisit it when we get done with some things. I'm sure we'll revisit it next week."
Maggi was already struggling to hold on to his position in the starting outfield over freshmen Kenny Meimerstorf and Tyler Krause. In nine starts and eleven games before the suspension, Maggi was only hitting .194 with no extra-base hits.
But let's be real, juniors can not be getting into trouble at all, and that seems to be the most frustrating part for Lopez and his staff about this situation.
"You always hope your juniors and upper classmen are going to be productive on the field and be great leaders because that sets a good example for the younger guys, and quite honestly, the head coach doesn't have to wear a black hat all the time. If the juniors and seniors play like juniors and seniors, lead like juniors and seniors, man what a great situation when you have those. I had those in 2012.
When your best players, are your best people, it's really hard to mess that up. As a coach, that's hard to mess up. When your best players aren't your best people or aren't doing the things you want to be done, that's challenging. And when your best people aren't your best players, that's a little bit challenging too.
So ideal world, best players are your best people, and that doesn't mean Joe's a bad person, he's not, he's got to deal with some stuff right now, or we have to clear the air a little bit and get some things addressed, and hopefully that will happen early next week. We couldn't do it now because too many games."
Tyler Crawford battling severe illness
Crawford recorded just one out against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday. Now we have a cause for his struggles on the mound.
"I admire his courage," said Lopez. "But Crawford has lost like 17 pounds in the last ten days. He's got something going. He had food poisoning and that may have led to something else, but he hasn't even been here the last two days while we're trying to figure out what's going on. We're hoping and praying that it's nothing too serious."
"He wanted the ball against Santa Barbara, but his velocity has been unbelievably down, so he's out."
A tough break, and obviously the reason Crawford didn't start against Air Force this week after Lopez announced Austin Schnabel would be the new Sunday starter. Crawford's an essential arm out of the pen, so having him out is a huge blow to the depth of the entire staff.
"He's just sick as a dog right now. They're running some tests and we're hoping the bug just works itself out."
Cody Moffett returns
Moffett did not pitch during the Hi Corbett Classic due to a case of walking pneumonia, but he returned to the mound on Wednesday against Air Force. "He hadn't thrown for the last four or five days," stated coach Lopez on Moffett's status before the Wednesday game.
He's another guy in the running for that Sunday starter spot, and there are still some midweek games remaining against Grand Canyon and Arizona St. that he'll probably be a crucial part of as well.
Scott Kingery goes streaking
Kingery has been unbelievable in the leadoff spot for Arizona. The sophomore now leads the team in batting average by a wide margin at .441, and his on base % sits at .556.
What more could you want? Well, he leads the team in stolen bases (11), runs scored (23), doubles (7), walks (14), hit by pitches (6), sac flies (2), and sac bunts (5).
"He reminds me of David Eckstein when I had Eckstein at Florida," coach Lopez said. "Right now he's getting on base and can run the bases pretty well for us too."
All Hail the King...ery.
Cody Ramer: Unsung hero
Flying a little under the radar this season is sophomore Cody Ramer. After not playing last year due to injury, Ramer has taken over third base from Brandon Dixon and done a stellar job. Just one error so far to give him a .983 fielding percentage, nearly 100 points better than Dixon's last season.
And Ramer's doing it while swinging a hot bat. Now hitting in the two-hole, his batting average sits at .342, but his on base percentage is second on the team at .455. He sort of gets lost in the shuffle in the infield with Newman, Gilbert and Dalbec. Then add Kingery and Zach Gibbons doing their thing out in the outfield, and everyone forgets about Ramer. But he's just there, almost always on base.
Austin Schnabel Sunday status
Schnabel came out of Wednesday's game vs. Air Force after two innings, and felt a little tightness up around his shoulder. Per Lopez, he will start on Sunday if he feels OK.
"I don't need that because we've already lost Crawford and Troupe. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. Towards the end of the ballgame he came up to me and said 'Coach I'm alright, I could've kept going I just felt a little tightness back there' so that was wise on his part to get out."
Nathan Bannister debuts new arm slot
Bannister had a totally different look to his throwing motion this week, and it at least seemed to give him a little more endurance if anything.
"I'd give him about a C," Lopez said. "He's up in the zone, so he's gotta get the ball down in the zone. But he'll be better."
Mat Troupe returns to club after Tommy John Surgery
Last week, Troupe was back out on the field with the pitching staff postgame while wearing a sling after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It's great to see Troupe back around the club and still doing whatever he can to help this team move forward and improve.