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.
Short stint an option for Beeks
Arkansas starter Jalen Beeks delivers a pitch against Vanderbilt during the first inning Saturday, April 19, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks said Tuesday he hopes to be able to pitch up to three innings in relief this weekend when the Razorbacks play in the NCAA baseball regional at Charlottesville. Va.
Beeks, who has not pitched in a game since suffering a Grade I sprain in his left elbow during a 7-4 loss at Ole Miss on May 3, said he's improved rapidly in the past 10 days.
"It's feeling a lot better," Beeks said. "About a week and a half ago, I couldn't even throw at all. So it's getting better fast."
Beeks said he couldn't give a precise answer for his anticipated workload in the postseason.
" I don't really know," he said. "Probably in relief, two to three innings spread throughout the weekend."
Beeks threw off the mound a little Tuesday and added some flat throwing and long toss to 150 feet.
"He said about one of every five throws he felt a little bit, but he says he feels like he's going to be good to go." pitching coach Dave Jorn said. "I hope you can expect to see him out of the bullpen, maybe a two- or three-inning stint, but I wouldn't want to pitch him more than about 50 pitches."
Beeks said his injury wasn't considered major.
"I didn't have to get any shots or anything like that," he said. "The doctors weren't worried about it. They just said get some rest, that's it."
Beeks has a 5-4 record and a 2.11 earned-run average, tops among Arkansas' starters. Since his injury, the Razorbacks have gone 3-0 in the second spot in the rotation with victories over Texas A&M, Missouri and Ole Miss behind strong performances by Chris Oliver.
Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher was recognized by SEC coaches for his bat and glove when all-conference honors were announced Tuesday.
Fisher was voted onto the all-defensive team and was the All-SEC second-team first baseman. Catcher Jake Wise made the all-defensive team, and outfielder Andrew Benintendi was selected to the all-freshman team.
Fisher, who is hitting .265, ranks third in the SEC with nine home runs. He has 14 doubles and 43 RBI to go along with a .995 fielding percentage.
Benintendi has started 56 games in the outfield and is hitting .282 with team highs of 44 runs and 15 stolen bases. He has a .380 on-base percentage.
Wise, who didn't play in the SEC Tournament with a right hand injury and is questionable for the NCAA regional at Charlottesville, Va., has thrown out 20 of 45 base stealers and has picked off 6 others.
Freshman Alex Gosser, who caught all five games for Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, will stay in the lineup this weekend if Jake Wise is unable to play.
"If Jake is ready to go, he's our captain," Gosser said "So if he's ready, he's ready. If not, I'll be ready."
Gosser played well defensively in the SEC Tournament and hit .267 (4 for 15) with 3 walks.
"The fifth day I felt pretty good, so it actually surprised me how well I held up," he said.
Pitcher Chris Oliver said Gosser has proven he can catch.
"I have no problem with him back there, and I don't think any of the other pitchers do, either," Oliver said. "Him or Wise, either way we're going to be all right."
Gosser's redshirt came off May 9 against Texas A&M while Wise was out with a concussion and Blake Baxendale was out with a hamstring injury.
"I think I've gotten my money's worth," Gosser said. "I hope Jake gets healthy. It's not really about me and how many games I get to play. I'm just here to help the team as much as I can."
Looking for help
Dave Jorn said it's been a challenge to get information on Liberty's hitters.
"We're still in the process of trying to get some reports from some other schools that played them earlier in the year," Jorn said. "It's kind of difficult because most of the three-game series have been on conference weekends, so conference teams aren't going to give up information."
Arkansas pitchers Chris Oliver and Jalen Beeks were teammates with Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher and pitcher/infielder Nick Howard with the Harwich Mariners in the Cape God League last summer.
"I haven't talked to them since the Cape," Oliver said. "It will be interesting meeting up with those guys again."
Sports on 05/28/2014