FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas baseball team may open the 2013 season without two of its veteran pitchers.
Arkasnas coach Dave Van Horn said Randall Fant (hamstring) and closer Colby Suggs (strained muscle) have missed practice time because of injuries this preseason. Van Horn announced the injuries during the team’s baseball media day festivities, but said the Razorbacks have enough depth without them.
Van Horn didn’t rule out Suggs, who hasn’t pitched for 10 days because of the strained muscle in his rib cage. But Trent Daniel will replace Fant in the starting rotation. The senior will start against Western Illinois on Feb. 17, while Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin will take the mound Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“I don’t know if he’ll be ready for the first two weekends,” Van Horn said of Fant’s hamstring injury. “I don’t want him to aggravate it, and I feel the same way with Suggs. I’m not going to rush him, either. We’ve got a lot of pitchers.”
Suggs has received multiple preseason All-America honors after going 7-1 with a 1.38 earned run average out of the bullpen last season. Suggs said his injury wasn’t a problem any longer, but was not being rushed back to make sure it heals.
“I’m pretty much over it,” Suggs said. “I’m just ready to get back on the mound and get going again and getting ready to start the season off.”
If Suggs doesn’t pitch during the opening weekend, Van Horn said closing games will be a group effort. He mentioned transfers Jalen Beeks and Thomas Altimont, redshirt freshman Landon Simpson and sophomore Chris Oliver as candidates.
Arkansas also will open the season without freshmen Colin Poche and Adam Meyer, who have been suspended for three games because of last month’s arrests for shoplifting. But Van Horn said the Razorbacks should have enough pitching.
“I'm not concerned about it at all,” Van Horn said. “If we were in league play, I'd be concerned, but better now than later.
“Hopefully these guys will get healthy and will come back even stronger."
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau