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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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Monday, January 31, 2005

A Little Late...Baseball America's Weekend Preview

I was travelling, so I didn't get this one up on Friday. Baseball America had this to say about the Dirtbags:
Mike Weathers knew there would be questions about his Long Beach State pitching staff this year, but not these kinds of questions.

First, people continue asking if 2004 College Player of the Year Jered Weaver, the Angels' still-unsigned first-round pick, will return for his senior year.

Actually, Weaver did return to pitch in a Dirtbags uniform. He took the mound at Blair Field for the alumni team in an exhibition game against the ’05 Dirtbags last Saturday. Weaver struck out two in an inning of work, but won't pitch again for Long Beach State.

"He had thrown a few bullpens lately and told me he wanted to pitch," Weathers said. "He was about 50 percent, but still struck out two of our guys. Really, it was just great for the fans to see him here again."

Calls also started trickling into Weathers' office about 6-foot-7 sophomore righthander Jared Hughes, who transferred in from Santa Clara. Word was Hughes had decided to leave Long Beach State, and some junior-college coaches and area scouts started chasing the rumor. No need.

"He's here," Weathers said. "I don't know where that started, but it's like any other rumor."

That brings things to the third most popular question, one that actually has some substance: Who will be in No. 22 Long Beach State's rotation when it travels to Tempe to face No. 9 Arizona State this weekend?

Weaver and fellow 2004 starter Jason Vargas, who started for the alumni Saturday team after pitching on Sundays last year, surely will not be.

Turning over a significant part of the rotation is nothing new for Weathers. The 2003 rotation featured Abe Alvarez, followed by Weaver and Cesar Ramos. One has left per year, with the lefthanded Ramos moving up to Friday in this, his junior year, after a 12-4, 2.29 sophomore season on Saturdays.

"Obviously you know what you get with Cesar: He's not overpowering, but throws strikes and induces contact with his cutter and command," pitching coach Troy Buckley said. "It's his chance to establish the (tone for the) weekend being a Friday night guy. He's been able to see those two guys in front of him and how they did it."

Cody Evans, a 6-foot-5 righthander, transferred in from Golden West (Calif.) Community College to serve as the Saturday starter. Evans rang up five strikeouts against one walk in six innings against the alumni, allowing two runs on five hits.

This year's Sunday starter? That's another question. Weathers didn't plan to decide until the last minute, listing the candidates as Hughes, senior righthander Neil Jamison (3-5, 4.35 with 12 saves in '04) and junior righthander Marco Estrada, who transferred in from Glendale (Calif.) Community College.

The best-case scenario for Long Beach State is for Hughes to earn a weekend rotation spot. If he does, Jamison and Estrada will shift to the bullpen to join senior Brian Anderson and junior Brett Andrade in what should prove to be a team strength. It will need to be, as the staff lost 72 percent of its innings pitched from last year.

Buckley is certain five pitchers won't throw 85 percent of the team's innings this year, and said this could be his most challenging year as a coach. But he looks forward to that challenge.

"We have a lot of plugging in to do and have to see how season progresses,” Buckley said. "We're not obviously as top end (heavy) as we were, but we do have the talent, probably 10 guys that we're comfortable with."

The coaches will use the first several games to experiment with different players and their roles, something they weren't able do last season. So it's likely that even if Jamison begins the year in the rotation, he could still move back to the closer's role if it suits the team best. The fall and spring work as a starter has allowed the senior to further develop his changeup, adding an effective complement to his low-90s fastball.

"It's going to take a few weeks for that to play out," Weathers said. "We're going to try to do a better job getting more guys opportunities. I don't think we developed a lot of guys because we had some veteran guys in set roles. We might pay the price for it some early this year."

posted on 1/31/2005 by Jeff Agnew

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