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Arizona baseball: Cody Deason returns to Eugene for first time since being let go by Oregon

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Will he get the chance to pitch against the school that let him go, as well as one of his best friends?

Jason Bartel

The Arizona Wildcats added several players to the baseball roster in July thanks to many factors, the biggest being the entirely new coaching staff coming in to Tucson.

One of those players was freshman right-hander Cody Deason, who was let go by the Oregon Ducks just before he was set to move to Eugene to play college baseball.

Arizona closes out the Pac-12 season this weekend by travelling to Eugene, where Deason hasn't been in nearly two years.

"I'm just excited to get there," Deason said of the trip. "I feel like it's a place where I once was, but guess what, I'm here. I want to go out and compete, and I'm not going to look at it any differently. I'm just going to go out there and play the game I love. I'm not going to make it any bigger than it needs to be."

Why did Oregon decide to move on from a guy who throws low 90's with a nice breaking ball?

"I think what they got into was a draft situation where they didn't have enough money anymore," Arizona assistant coach Sergio Brown explained. "Some guys they were expecting to get drafted didn't, so they were over scholarship so they had to cut loose somebody, so he was the one they cut loose."

Head coach Jay Johnson had already recruited Deason at Nevada, so he built up a nice relationship with the now-available pitcher. Deason, even though he was committed to Oregon at the time, actually sent Johnson a congratulatory text message when he accepted the Arizona job.

"I found out pretty quickly on that one because we'd recruited him at Nevada," Johnson said of how he found out about Deason's availability. "He actually went on a trip to Nevada, and to Oregon, and was actually supposed to come on a trip to Arizona but had committed to Oregon."

"We developed a good relationship in the recruiting process, so once he got a release, he reached out to me pretty quickly."

A player that was part of the Oregon recruiting class Deason was supposed to be in is the Ducks' starting shortstop, Travis Moniot.

The two still talk often, even though they were not able play alongside each other at the college level.

"I talk to him a lot," Deason explained of their relationship. "It sounds like he's loving it up there and that everything's going good, so I'm just looking forward to seeing him play. And hopefully I get to face him and shut him down."

Moniot is hitting just .178 despite starting all 48 games for Oregon this year as a freshman.

You would think that Deason and Moniot played baseball throughout their lives together, but that's not the case at all.

"He used to live in my small town Ojai (California)," said Deason. "Then he moved out about when he was eight years old to Palm Desert. From there we kinda lost contact and through the recruiting stuff we kinda came in touch again, so it was pretty cool."

"Just ever since then we've been the best of friends."

The two were committed to Oregon at the same time, which would have made for a nice reunion.

"We kinda talked about how we would play with each other like we did in Little League," Deason continued. "It was a cool little process. It wasn't the whole reason I committed there in the first place, but it had something to do with it I would say."

Deason was used as the Sunday starter in the Utah series on April 3rd, but since then, he has only pitched 2 1/3 innings in four appearances, giving up six earned runs in those games. The last time he saw the mound was April 29th at USC.

"It's not good, but I'm a freshman so I'm looking for time," he said about not being used lately. "I mean, sometimes you fall off the rankings, and you just gotta find a way to get back up there. I mean, I've got two more years to do that, so you've always gotta look forward."

"I'm just trying to keep my mind straight," he continued. "Keeping everything focused, locked in. Just practice better, get my reps in there. I'm going to make it game-like in practice."

Even though he hasn't pitched in a while, his experience at the college level already will be valuable moving forward, possibly even later this season.

"If we're going to get to where we want to get to, whether it's getting into the fourth or fifth game of a Regional, those guys in the back end of the bullpen are going to have to step up and do something, and now we've got a freshman with (22 1/3) innings," Coach Brown said of having someone like that available come postseason time.

It would be a nice story if Deason got to pitch against George Horton and Oregon, especially if he was able to put a few zeroes up on the scoreboard. At the very least, he'll get to see his good friend Moniot, and be reminded that Tucson has better weather than Eugene anyway. It's supposed to be in the 60's and rainy.

"I get to brag a little bit about the Tucson weather."