By Charles Renning
KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
While UA head coach Andy Lopez (7) lost the services of seniors Pat Reilly and Derek Rodriguez, he could find a hidden gem or two in the team's annual walk-on tryouts, scheduled for Oct. 1.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Pair of seniors transfer from Cats
When the Arizona baseball program returned to its first College World Series in 18 years, the Wildcats reestablished themselves as one of the premier baseball schools in the nation.
But with this refound success will come some unanticipated adversity.
Arizona lost two seniors who transferred to schools in Nevada and a volunteer pitching coach who received a paying job in Prescott.
Seniors Pat Reilly and Derek Rodriguez both decided to take their talent elsewhere.
"We'd love for those guys to stay, but I understand their desire to play every day," head coach Andy Lopez said.
Reilly, a Reno native, will play for the University of Nevada-Reno next season while Rodriguez, a Las Vegas native, signed on with a Wildcat opponent: UNLV.
Lopez said both players left to try and get more innings with their new clubs.
"They want the opportunity to play more," he said.
The competition for Wildcat playing time got even more intense with the arrival of 23 newcomers.
Another newcomer will be on the coaching staff.
Andy Diver became Arizona's new volunteer assistant coach, replacing Jeff Casper.
Casper took a full-time position as the pitching coach at Yavapai College in Prescott.
Diver joins the Arizona staff after leading L.A. Harbor Community College for the past two years. Diver was named South Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2003.
Lopez said the services of Casper will be missed, but the opportunity was great for him and he is excited about the addition of Diver.
Diver is going to assist Lopez with handling the Wildcat pitching staff
Arizona begins a three-week fall schedule Oct. 1, which will include at least four intra-squad scrimmages. Walk-on tryouts will also be part of the opening day of the fall schedule.
Lopez said he always tries to keep at least one walk-on player on all of his squads but this year it could be tough because of the depth of talent already on the team.
"We feel pretty good about all of our position players, but you're always looking for pitching," he said.
Those who plan to try out need not be too discouraged. One of Lopez's most notable walk-ons is Anaheim Angels shortstop David Eckstein. Eckstein walked on for Lopez during the coach's stint at Florida and has gone on to become an everyday shortstop in the major leagues.