Baseball opens spring practice

GO CARDINALS <b>Darian Johnson will be looking for a strong senior campaign in left field this season.</b>
Darian Johnson will be looking for a strong senior campaign in left field this season.

Jan. 28, 2013

BEAUMONT - Jim Gilligan appeared in his element on Saturday, taking some time prior to practice to sit down with a number of players outside the home dugout at Vincent-Beck Stadium as the 37th-year skipper prepared for yet another season of Lamar Baseball.

Gilligan, one of the winningest active coaches in the country with more than 1,200 wins, had high hopes for his Cardinal program following a strong fall practice season, and after the first few days of spring practice, he's seen little to dispel that notion.

"It was a pretty good start this spring," Gilligan said. "A lot of guys have improved, especially our pitchers. We've come out with a bunch of guys that deserve a lot of innings this year. So now we're trying to shape our staff. We know we have enough arms and five pitchers that we believe can start. That's what we got out of this weekend. It was a good first week, it really was."

The Cardinals boast a pair of strong returning starters in Eric Harrington and Jonathan Dziedzic, the latter of which was drafted by the Boston Red Sox organization last spring. Five other pitchers will be back from a season ago, and they'll be set to join a strong incoming class.

In the field it appears to be more of the same from 2012, but with one new face as junior college transfer Sam Bumpers has made a name for himself at shortstop. He, along with returners Garret Autrey, Seth Dornak, Darian Johnson, Brad Picha and Jude Vidrine should make for a challenging lineup as the season wears on.



"Bumpers has really been a good pick-up, but we really don't have a lot of new position guys," Gilligan said. "Well, Johnson has moved out to left field from third base, and now there's going to be a battle between V.J. Bunner, Aaron Olivas and Andrew Dewey at second and third base, and that also lets us see how they do with different pitching. We're in better shape than we were last year."

LU will continue its practice season this week, concluding with intrasquad games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, weather permitting.

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