FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas pitcher Jalen Beeks will not be available to pitch in this week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament because of the left-hander’s sore elbow.
But Arkansas coach Dave Horn said the Razorbacks are optimistic Beeks, who has missed two straight starts because of the injury, will get back on the mound this season.
“We feel like if we’re fortunate enough to get in a regional next weekend he will pitch - or in two weeks - he’ll be ready to go by then,” Van Horn said.
Van Horn spoke with the media during an SEC Tournament teleconference on Monday morning. The Razorbacks, who are the No. 7 seed in the tournament, will play No. 10 seed Texas A&M in a single-elimination game Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. The winner will advance to play No. 2 seed Ole Miss on Wednesday afternoon.
Arkansas will start Trey Killian on short rest against the Aggies, while Chris Oliver is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday if the Razorbacks advance. Van Horn said Arkansas would evaluate pitching options from there without Beeks.
Dominic Taccolini, who has been in a starting role the past two weeks, is a likely candidate. But Van Horn said there are others options as well with midweek starters Colin Poche and Alex Phillips.
“We’ll just kind of figure that out if we’re fortunate enough to get that far,” Van Horn said.
Here are two other notes from Van Horn’s teleconference appearance:
• Van Horn said he’s leaning toward starting freshman catcher Alex Gosser over senior Jake Wise against the Aggies. Gosser — who lost his redshirt season when he filled in for Wise (concussion) in the series opener against Texas A&M two weeks ago — replaced the senior during the regular season finale at Missouri and went 2-for-3. Van Horn said he would make his final decision after Monday’s practice in Hoover, Ala., adding that “it’s hard to pull (Wise) out of there. But he’s really struggling offensively.” Wise is hitting .155 in 52 games with 49 starts this season.
• Redshirt freshman Blake Baxendale probably won’t be available to play in the SEC Tournament because of the hamstring injury that has sidelined him for two weeks. Even if Baxendale was healthy enough to return, Van Horn would have to figure out where to play him because of Clark Eagan’s success at the top of the lineup. The freshman is 11-for-24 in the DH role in Baxendale’s absence. Said Van Horn: “I think my dilemma will be, and it will be a good thing, if we’re fortunate enough to get into a regional I think we would have him back and would give us some options.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau