Arkansas opens the 2013 season against Western Illinois at 3:05 p.m.
And the first game of the season will include some unexpected news.
Junior Dominic Ficociello will not play today because of a strained oblique. Ficociello was originally scheduled to make his debut at second base for the Razorbacks, but Jacob Mahan has been penciled into the starting lineup. Mahan will bat eighth today, while first baseman Eric Fisher slides into the cleanup spot in Ficociello's absence.
We'll check after the game on Ficociello's availability for the rest of the weekend.
First pitch is scheduled for 3:05. Projected temperature at game time is 40 degrees.
Below are the starting lineups for both teams and today's pitching matchup:
Arkansas (0-0): LF Matt Vinson, CF Jacob Morris, RF Tyler Spoon, 1B Eric Fisher, 3B Brian Anderson, DH Willie Schwanke, C Jake Wise, 2B Jacob Mahan, SS Brett McAfee
Western Illinois (0-0): 2B Brent Turner, CF Dan Dispensa, 3B Jameson Henning, 1B Steve Kedroski, LF Erik Maki, SS Travis Stafford, C Manny Reyes, RF Neil DeCook, DH Nate Ewing
Pitching Matchup: Arkansas – RHP Ryne Stanek; Western Illinios – RHP Nick Smith
A couple other notes before today's opener:
• Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said starting pitcher Ryne Stanek will be on the mound for 70 to 80 pitches today, although the total can be altered. The same goes for Barrett Astin and Trent Daniel the other two starters this weekend. "It depends on the weather or if it's an easy 70 or 80 or if it's out of the stretch all the time then they won't last that long," Van Horn said Thursday.
• The availability of closer and preseason All-American Colby Suggs is to be determined this weekend. Suggs has been dealing with a muscle strain in his rib cage and coach Dave Van Horn would like to rest him if possible. But Van Horn didn't rule him. "He is probably available but I don't know if I am going to pitch him yet," Van Horn said during Thursday's press conference. "It would be nice to wait at least until Sunday or maybe I will wait until the middle of the week to give him an inning."
• Arkansas will be without left-handed pitcher Randall Fant this weekend, though. And probably next. Fant is dealing with a hamstring injury and Van Horn said his goal is to have Fant back for the team's trip to play in the Coca-Cola Classic in Arizona at the end of the month.
• Where is sophomore Joe Serrano? Another key contributor in the 2012 postseason is not in the lineup. Van Horn explained yesterday that Serrano was slowed this preseason by some arm issues. He is supposed to play this weekend, though. "The last couple of scrimmages he has been pretty good and definitely will get in a couple of games this weekend," Van Horn said. "Now he is hitting and he threw the ball better yesterday in practice but I am just going to go with what we have been doing. It's a long season and we are going to play a lot of games."
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau