It's World Series week, so we now cut to the Cal State Fullerton baseball offices--those veterans of the College World Series--to check in on the Titans' fall drills.
They ended Saturday and George Horton, associate head coach, pronounced them a success. The Titans got about as much out of fall baseball as they could.
"We accomplished what we set out to accomplish," Horton said. "Trying to evaluate what we have and what we don't have."
The Titans are deep in outfielders and at catcher. Their pitchers are talented and a year older. They have a solid offensive lineup stocked with left-handers.
"We have more of an abundance of left-handed hitters that at any time since we've been here," Horton said.
What they will put on their Christmas wish list, however, is a request for middle infielders; shortstop Nate Rodriquez and second baseman Jeremy Carr have used up their eligibility.
There is some reason for optimism, though. Two potential shortstops emerged from fall drills: freshmen Jack Jones from Modesto Downey High School and Chris Remala from El Dorado.
And Fullerton is experimenting with moving third baseman Jeff Ferguson to second.
"That's probably the biggest question mark," Horton said. "He's capable, and he showed signs of being able to do it, but he was very inconsistent and inexperienced with some of the techniques.
"We think Jeff is going to be in the lineup. Offensively, he's one of our better guys. He can help the lineup. But he has a ways to go at that position."
Mark Kotsay, a freshman from Santa Fe Springs Santa Fe High, emerged as a left-handed pitching prospect but also impressed the coaches as an outfielder.
"He's a legitimate two-way player," Horton said. "He really played well.
"He is probably more suited toward being a reliever, but the problem is, he's going to be in the hunt as a starting outfielder. It's hard to be a position player and a reliever."
Two other relative newcomers did well in fall camp: pitcher Jose Peraza, a freshman left-hander from Norwalk High, and Jeremy Giambi, a redshirt freshman who was moved from the outfield to first base.
"Jeremy is really doing well offensively," Horton said. "He has a ways to go as far as being a defensive first baseman. But the move seemed to put a little fire under (incumbent) D.C. (Olsen). D.C. really had a good fall."
The Titans begin practice for the season on Jan. 6.
More baseball: The Titan schedule is finished and, once again, they have a strong nonconference schedule.
They open the season with a three-game series at Stanford (Jan. 28-30) and, later, play host to Arizona (Feb. 4-6) and Wichita State (March 22-23). They also travel to Texas (Feb. 11-13) and Fresno State (March 2).
Additionally, the Titans play UCLA four times (twice at home) and USC three times (once at home) and Pepperdine twice (once at home).
The Titans also play host to the Anaheim Hilton and Towers Classic baseball tournament Feb. 25-27, which includes Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and San Diego in the field.
No trials: Sophomore pitcher Jon Ward decided this week that he will skip the U.S. baseball trials next month in Homestead, Fla., because his arm is not ready.
Ward was diagnosed as having a slight tear in an elbow ligament at the end of last season and was examined by the Kerlan Jobe Clinic. Rest, rather than surgery, was prescribed, and Ward didn't begin throwing until Oct. 5.
"He had no trouble at all with the elbow (during all drills)," Horton said. "He had a little shoulder stiffness from not having thrown in so long. Our fear was that he would not be ready and then go back and try to impress and injure himself."
Chad May had another big day over the weekend, throwing for a Big Eight-record 489 yards during Kansas State's 45-28 loss to Nebraska, and it leaves several people at Fullerton wondering:
Is it \o7 that\f7 Chad May?
As the Titan quarterback in 1991, May passed for 1,066 yards over an entire season. That's less than 100 yards a game, and that was for a one-back offense that emphasized passing.
Suddenly, it seems as if Kansas State has Johnny Unitas on its hands. May, a junior from La Verne, has been chosen as the Big Eight's offensive player of the week and is averaging 255 1/2 passing yards per game. At his current pace, May would finish the season with 2,810 yards passing, which would easily surpass Lynn Dickey's school-record of 2,476 set in 1969.
"I didn't think Chad would have that big of a day but, at the same time, he didn't surprise me," Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder said. "I think he's capable of being the quarterback he proved he was against Nebraska 95% of the time."
The men's basketball team has been notified by the NCAA that Division I practices can start on Oct. 30 this year rather than Nov. 1. . . . Associate head baseball coach George Horton picks Philadelphia to win the World Series. "I think the timing is right for them and I think Toronto's had it easy," Horton said. "Philadelphia is the Gashouse Gang of the '90s."