Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Catcher waiting for OK
Arkansas catcher Jake Wise throws to first during the third inning against Auburn Friday, April 25, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Final exams have ended at Arkansas for the spring semester, but senior catcher Jake Wise still has some tests he needs to pass to play against Texas A&M this weekend.
Wise, who sustained a concussion in a collision at the plate at Ole Miss last Saturday, will undergo more tests and meet with doctors today in the hopes he'll be cleared to play against the No. 20 Aggies tonight in the opener of a three-game series at Baum Stadium.
"I've always played through injuries since I've been here, but with the brain it's a little different," Wise said. "They take it a little more serious than a sprained ankle or a hurt back."
Wise, who has played in 185 games for the Razorbacks with 156 starts, will undergo some computerized tests and work out to see how he responds mentally and physically.
"I had a little setback early in the week, but since then I've been fine," Wise said. "I've just been trying to take all the tests I can and move as fast as I can, but not too fast, because you've got to follow the protocols."
It may not be determined until shortly before the 6:35 p.m. start whether Wise is cleared to play tonight, although Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said he hopes to know by about 1 p.m.
Backup catcher Blake Baxendale, who started two games at Ole Miss in Wise's place, is doubtful to play against Texas A&M -- except for possible pinch-hitting duties -- because of a hamstring injury he sustained last Sunday. Van Horn said freshman Alex Gosser, who the coaching staff has planned to redshirt, will start tonight if Wise isn't able to play.
"Really, where Jake is at right now, I think everything is good," Van Horn said. "He just needs to be able to swing the bat, bounce around, run without any issues.
"I think he passed everything for the most part, but the other day after he worked out ... it bothered him a little bit. So they had to wait another 24 hours. [Today] will be two-and-half days later, so we'll see how it goes."
Van Horn said earlier this week Gosser would play only if Wise suffered a season-ending injury, but that stance changed because of Gosser's insistence that he wants to play.
"It's a tough call for me," Van Horn said of possibly taking the redshirt off Gosser so late in the season. "If I was going to do that I probably would've done it 20 games ago.
"We've been fighting it. It's just strange the way it's all gone down, but we've got to try to win and he wants to play. So that's what we have to do if that's what we need to do."
When Wise catches he has the freedom to calls pitches, with input from pitching coach Dave Jorn, and he's thrown out 20 of 40 runners attempting to steal and has picked off five runners.
"If we don't have Jake there, then Coach Jorn will probably be calling the game, and we trust him," said Arkansas sophomore right-hander Trey Killian, who is starting tonight. "He always calls the right pitch. So as pitchers, we're just going to go out there and do our job and try not to worry about the catcher behind the plate."
Gosser has traveled with the Razorbacks on road trips and done a lot of catching in the bullpen and during practices, Van Horn said, to become prepared to play if necessary.
"It's baseball," Van Horn said. "Just play."
Wise said he's been impressed by Gosser in practice.
"He's good, he's really solid," Wise said. "If he gets the chance, he'll do fine. He's ready to go."
TEXAS A&M AT ARKANSAS
WHEN 6:35 p.m. WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 30-20, 11-13 SEC; Texas A&M 30-19, 12-12. TICKETS Reserved $12. General admission $10. RADIO Razorbacks Sports Network statewide network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings. INTERNET www.arkansasrazorbacks. com PITCHING MATCHUP Texas A&M: Daniel Mengden (RHP, 4-6, 3.78 ERA). Arkansas: Trey Killian (RHP, 2-8, 2.42).
Sports on 05/09/2014