By Matt Tresaugue
Arizona Daily Wildcat
When you're 7-31, you can't help but feel ill.
Although the Arizona baseball team's play on the field has often been sickening, it has been a virus Ä not errors Ä that has wiped out the Wildcats this week.
Seven players, including first baseman Matt Lake, right fielder Jeff Gjerde and right-handed pitcher Ryan Frace, missed practice on Tuesday because they were sick.
Lake, the UA's third-leading hitter (.321, one homer, 17 RBI), was the first to fall. He missed Sunday's series finale at Arizona State and was questionable for this weekend.
Frace (0-4, 6.08 ERA), who returned to the rotation Saturday after six weeks in the bullpen, had his start this weekend pushed back to Sunday in order to give him time for recovery.
The Wildcats practiced at full strength yesterday.
Besides the virus victims, the injured list continues to grow.
ù Infielder John Powers, whose .333 average is tops on the club, missed the Arizona State series with a sore back and will be out another three weeks.
ù Catcher Anthony Marnell (.273, 1, 17) remains sidelined after fracturing his left hand in a home-plate collision against Stanford last month.
ù Catcher Rob Frisbee (.167, 0, 4) skipped Tuesday's practice because of a sore left wrist.
ù Left-handed pitcher Ben White (2-6, 8.55) had an eye infection, but told coaches that he can see.
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When White entered the program last season from Tucson Salpointe High School, where he was the state player of the year after hitting .485 as a senior, he was listed as an outfielder on the roster.
Because of a rash of injuries to the pitching staff last season, White was soon moved to the mound. He played in 21 games without once stepping to the plate.
But a bat is a terrible thing to waste, especially when your lineup has struggled.
Coach Jerry Kindall last week added designated hitter to White's weekly assignment as a starting pitcher. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound sophomore responded, going 3 for 8 with a double, two runs and two RBI against the Sun Devils.
"He's in the lineup because that guy hits doubles over the center fielder's head," said Kindall, referring to White's fourth-inning shot on Sunday that scored a run.
"It has been a lot of fun hitting," White said. "It's like I am back in high school. Hitting makes me more involved in the whole game."
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Former ace Mike Schiefelbein had a strong outing yesterday when he pitched against Pima Community College in a varsity reserve game.
Schiefelbein, a second-round pick of the Texas Rangers out of high school in 1990, pitched three innings, allowing one run on one hit while striking out two and walking two. His fastball was clocked at 89 mph on the UA's battle-weary radar gun in the second inning.
The junior right-hander pitched five innings last season before sitting out the remainder of the year with back and hamstring injuries. Schiefelbein has suffered from control problems this season, walking 27 in nine innings.
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Co-captain Menno Wickey's average has plunged 73 points to .298 over the last six games.
After opening the season with 26 hits in 70 at-bats (.371), Wickey has two singles in his last 24 trips to the plate. Kindall attributed the slump to Wickey putting too much pressure on himself.
"Menno wants to carry the team on his back," Kindall said. "He is a good player, but no one is capable of winning a game by himself. He just needs to relax."
Said Wickey: "I'm not a believer in slumps. When a person struggles, it is because of two things. One, he is putting too much pressure on himself. And two, he is not focused. I think I am focused, so that makes me believe that I am trying to do too much. I don't know what the problem is. I just have work through. It's part of the game." Read Next Article