February 08, 2012
BERKELEY -- Just a few notes from Cal baseball practice on Tuesday, as the Bears continue to move ever closer to the opening of the 2012 season.
On Saturday, Matt Flemer went five innings and threw 64 pitches as he continues to stretch back out into a full-fledged starter. Flemer was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 closer last season, going 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA and six saves (eighth in Pac-10) in 30 relief appearances (sixth in the conference). He fanned 41 hitters with only eight walks in 39.1 innings, using mainly a fastball and a curve. This year, he's added some of his old pitches back into his repertoire from when he came to Berkeley as a starter out of El Cerrito (Calif.) St. Mary's.
Flemer will be stretched out to 80 pitches during Saturday's Fan Fest scrimmage. Senior side-arming righty Stephen Pistoresi is also scheduled to pitch.
In other starting rotation news, lefty Justin Jones said his arm felt "amazing" after 2.2 innings last week in his first live action since a nerve issue in his left biceps sidelined him after his start in the Santa Clara Super Regional against Dallas Baptist more than seven months ago.
Jones will likely take the hill on Feb. 17 against Pacific in the season opener, but should only go about four or five innings.
Freshman All-American Kyle Porter is well on-track to start on Sunday, but, to hear him tell it, he's ready to take the Saturday slot from Flemer.
"Disregard what Flemer tells you," Porter laughed as he left the field, after asked if he's ready for next Sunday. "Publish that just to piss him off."
Porter has been working on using his legs more during his delivery, and to take pressure off of his shoulder. He should be seeing an up-tick in velocity this season.
Expect the mid-week starting slots to go to two freshmen in crafty lefty Chris Muse-Fisher and Keaton Siomkin.
Another newcomer also making a big impression is Mike Reuvekamp, out of Diablo Valley College. Reuvekamp came in as a catcher, but the 5-foot-9, 150-pounder has shown a lot of versatility in spring practice, playing all over the infield. His teammates describe him as "scrappy," and it's hard to argue. He doesn't hesitate to get dirty, and he has plus hands while turning double plays from third, short and second. Along with stud freshman Chris Paul, he could wind up as the go-to utility man on defense.
Paul once again showed off his athleticism at all four infield positions, working in behind starting third baseman Mitch Delfino, at first behind starter Devon Rodriguez and Jacob Wark and at second behind Tony Renda. Paul showed great range at both second and short, and a plus arm from all over the diamond. While at third, Paul made a nifty backhanded pick and then a strong off-balance throw while falling away from second to turn the double play.
Wark -- who will see a lot of time with the No. 1 offense once spring football rolls around -- has tremendous power and is becoming smoother with the leather. He has been coming out early to the field to work with coaches all spring to make up for the time he'll lose to spring camp, and could wind up being the starting designated hitter by the time all is said and done.
Rodriguez has also shown a lot of improvement with the leather, and is much more sound defensively than he was last year. The Big Cat is showing a lot more quickness and range in practice lately, and has made several big plays up the line.
Sophomore catcher Andrew Knapp will likely start the season as the regular designated hitter, but also worked in with the outfielders. Knapp has a plus bat from both sides of the plate, so getting that bat into the lineup as regularly as possible will be a top priority. When not in the outfield or at DH, Knapp will spell two-time All-Pac-10 catcher Chadd Krist behind the dish.
In the bullpen, look for Logan Scott to close this season, with Joey Donofrio and Michael Theofanopoulos.
BearTerritory's projected Opening Day lineup:
Tony Renda 2B
Darrell Matthews CF
Chadd Krist C
Devon Rodriguez 1B
Mitch Delfino 3B
Chad Bunting RF
Vince Bruno LF
Andrew Knapp DH
Derek Campbell SS
Danny Oh OF
Chris Paul IF/OF
Paul Toboni 1B/OF
Michael Theofanopoulos RP/IF
Jacob Wark 1B/DH
Mike Reuvekamp C/IF