Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Beeks could miss 2 weeks
Baxendale, Wise could also miss playing time
Arkansas junior starter Jalen Beeks delivers a pitch against Eastern Illinois during the second inning Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas left-hander Jalen Beeks likely won't pitch the rest of the regular season, Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday.
Beeks, who has started 12 games this season, is being held out of this weekend's series against Texas A&M with soreness in his throwing arm and likely won't pitch next week at Missouri. Beeks is 5-4 this season with an earned run average of 2.11 in 76 2/3 innings.
"I think we're going to give him two weeks rest," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday during an interview on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. "Hopefully we'll make the (SEC) tournament and hopefully get to play beyond that. I think he'll be back if we get into the tournament or possibly into a regional, or possibly a few games into the tournament."
Beeks struggled in his last outing, allowing six runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings at Ole Miss last Saturday. Chris Oliver, who has been the team's Sunday starter most of the season, will start Saturday against Texas A&M and the Razorbacks aren't naming a starter for the series finale.
Beeks isn't the only player who will miss starting time this weekend. Designated hitter Blake Baxendale's hamstring injury will likely keep him out of the lineup, Van Horn said.
Baxendale has been the team's best hitter over the last month. He is batting .290 this season with 21 RBIs and eight extra-base hits.
"When he pulled that hamstring we knew he was probably going to be out for a while," Van Horn said. "I would tell you right now he's questionable for the weekend and will probably pinch-hit."
Van Horn said catcher Jake Wise has yet to be cleared for the weekend series after suffering a concussion last Saturday. Because Baxendale is the team's backup catcher, if Wise can't play Arkansas could opt to play Alex Gosser, a freshman who was supposed to redshirt this season.
"We should know tonight or tomorrow if (Wise) is going to be able to play Friday or if it's going to be Saturday or Sunday," Van Horn said. "It's still up in the air."
Other catcher options include outfielder Tyler Spoon and pitcher Jackson Lowery. Both players caught games in high school and Lowery caught the ninth inning of the Razorbacks' game at Ole Miss last Sunday.
Texas A&M enters this weekend's series hot coming off a series win over LSU. The Aggies (30-19, 12-12 SEC) have a one game lead on the Razorbacks (30-20, 11-13) for fifth place in the SEC West and Texas A&M is only 1.5 games back of third place in the standings.
Arkansas needs to win its final two series of the season to finish at or above .500 in league play and assure itself a berth in the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks are also looking to help their NCAA postseason cause as they are in danger of missing the regional round for the first time since 2001.
"We have to battle through it and find a way to win some games," Van Horn said.