Monday, March 2, 2009

A big catch

By Barca Blog - Call it a premonition, but head coach Tim Corbin decided to work redshirt freshman Aaron Westlake at catcher last December. A corner infielder, Westlake had never played the position in his baseball career.

After Andrew Giobbi broke his hand Friday (causing him to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks), the Commodores were in need of an every day catcher. Curt Casali had already moved to first base prior to the season due to an arm injury.

Westlake stepped into the situation and played error-free ball on Saturday and Sunday, both victories over Vermont.

“I can’t give him enough credit," Sunday starter Nick Christiani said. "He’s only been catching for a few months and I feel very comfortable with him back there. He’s done an excellent job considering the circumstances. When your top two catches go down, a lot of teams wouldn’t have the depth to have a guy back there that did the job that he did.”

Corbin was also complimentary of Westlake's performance at catcher.

"He’s got a very good disposition for the game and that’s why he’s able to do what he does," Corbin said of Westlake, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday after hitting .667 (10-for15) in five games last week. "He seems to relax behind the plate and has good skills as far catching the ball and he sits in there nice and has good flexibility. You can tell he’s new because he’s a little bit twitchy but he’s not bad at all."

Now that Westlake has changed positions for the time being, other players have offered their services behind the plate if needed.

"(Joe) Loftus and (Joey) Manning say they want to do it now, too," quipped Corbin. "When someone’s hurt, it's any way into the lineup I guess."

With Giobbi out, Loftus did start at DH Saturday and Sunday, going 3-for-6 with two RBI, a run and two walks.

"I like Joe swinging the bat," Corbin added. "He’s confident. He’ll be in the lineup and will be one of those guys that’s going to hit pretty big for us. I like his approach at the plate."

Fans can read more about how Westlake's career was almost in jeopardy last season in David Boclair's article from early February.

The Commodores (5-3) will entertain Lipscomb Tuesday (4 p.m. CT) followed by a four-game home series with Illinois-Chicago starting Thursday. For tickets, call (615) 322-GOLD or click here.

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