And So It Begins

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Eagerly anticipating Feb. 19? You are not alone. Even The OG has taken note of the building excitement for the 2010 season, one that began in theory on Monday when the Owls opened individual workout sessions with the staff. These workouts will continue through Thursday.

Of note: Sr. RHP Mike Ojala threw off a bullpen mound alongside teammates for the first time since the close of the 2009 season. He had been pitching on his own for a month at Methodist, so in many ways Monday represented a significant step in his rehabilitation. He did not give maximum effort - none of the pitchers were required to do so - but he did throw to a catcher and did receive instruction from pitching coach David Pierce. Later during his session Ojala was flanked by Jr. LHP Tony Cingrani, giving indication everything is back to normal.

Almost. Dr. J.P. Bramhall will not clear Ojala for a full return prior to nine months out from his June 18 Tommy John surgery, so while Ojala and the staff continued their playful banter about his traveling with the team to Stanford for the season-opening series, an optimistic return date remains set for the Houston series the first weekend of April. Ojala experienced a minor setback last month, but after several days of rest he resumed his rehab without incident. He anticipates plowing forward through individual and preseason workouts and aims to pitch against live batters the final week of intrasquads in mid-February, following the same routine of RS Fr. RHP Anthony Fazio (who, incidentally, looked fine on the bump on Monday). We'll know a lot more about where Ojala stands roughly four weeks from now, so please stay tuned.

While on the subject of extended absences, So. OF/IF Ryan Lewis took his first hacks at The Reck batting cage since last June. He did get in some swings at an indoor facility in his native Baton Rouge over the holiday break, but Monday was the first time he faced BP on campus.

It's no secret that the staff covets Lewis' lefthanded bat, and considering he played some first base in high school, his move from the outfield to the infield is merited. But Lewis, who spent last fall ensnarled in a protracted quarterback shuffle at HRS, is the first to admit that his defense needs work and his swing requires reviving. Both will take time, and while he realizes that he is on the clock, Lewis won't rush his development. He plans to be ready by the opener.

"These couple of weeks will be my chance to show the coaches I can still swing it," he said.

How about this for commitment: Sr. C Diego Seastrunk and So. C Craig Manuel returned looking Handsome Boy Modeling School svelte. GDG checked in at 190 pounds; Manuel at 205. So much for the backstops filling up on sourdough stuffing and apple pies over the break.

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Keep it coming, MK-- and thanks for the bit on Ryan Lewis; you provided the answer I was looking for. :--)

I can't wait!

Are you planning on going to California MK?

Owl75: Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I plan on being in NoCal for the Rice-Stanford series. I am really looking forward to the excursion. - MK

I feel like less of a man after visiting the handsome body modeling school website. lol

keep the baseball updates coming...especially the development of the pitching staff - that will really be fun to watch how the staff comes together this Spring

wheredidmypantsgo: Embrace your outer beauty. There is no shame in being handsome. - MK

Thanks so much for the updates, MK. Can't wait until Feb 19th!! Do you plan to live blog from Stanford?

owl-1983: I plan on moderating a live chat for the series opener, and then I'll work from there. As long as you guys don't start writing about firing the coaches I should be OK. - MK

Is Toad coaching the baseball opener at Stanford?

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