Feb. 1, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona baseball team has begun its preparations for the 2010 season with the commencement of official practices.
Practices officially began on Friday and Saturday and resumed on Monday when head coach Andy Lopez and several Wildcats met with the media for the first time. The Wildcats have spent the first few days playing against each other in scrimmage situations to get pitchers and hitters in the swing of things after preseason workouts.
Early season practices will be critical for the Wildcats as they break in as many as 23 newcomers to the roster. It is one of Lopez's youngest groups that he has coached at Arizona, certainly in recent seasons after the Wildcats turned in back-to-back 40-seasons in 2007 and 2008.
Lopez talks to the media
The Wildcats return 12 key members from a 2009 club that finished with a 30-25 record, narrowly missing the postseason for just the second time since 2003. Among the returnees is First Team All-Pac-10 member Bryce Ortega, who will be one of the UA's leaders in the clubhouse throughout the season.
"I know they don't have a lot of experience," Ortega said of the newcomers in the program. "But they've played a lot of baseball and I think they can handle it pretty well. I think the season is going to be a lot better than some people might think."
Bandy, Ortega talk to media
"They're young, but they're real teachable," Lopez said. "I'm excited about them."
While the Wildcats are not showing up in any preseason top-25 polls and their standing in the preseason Pac-10 Coaches poll is yet to be determined, they aren't concerned about what outsiders think. They know that they will receive credit in time when it is deserved.
Until then, the Wildcats are going to continue building towards a 2010 season that they hope will be highly successful.
"They may be just goofy enough to do something nobody expects, which I hope is true." Lopez said of the Wildcats. "I'm having a good time with them."
Arizona opens the season against Utah Valley in a three-game series that begins on Feb. 19 at Jerry Kindall Field.