Clemson names starter for season opener

Clemson names starter for season opener

Baseball

Clemson names starter for season opener

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Tigers will start Sharpe in Game 2, Strider in Game 3

Clemson baseball coach Monte Lee announced prior to Tuesday’s practice at Doug Kingsmore Stadium that junior Sam Weatherly will get the start for the Tigers when they open the season Friday against Liberty.

First pitch for Friday’s season opener is set for 4 p.m.

Lee also announced sophomore Davis Sharpe will start Game 2 of the series and redshirt sophomore Spencer Strider will be the starter in Game 3.

“It has been a long time coming and this has been years in the making,” Weatherly said about earning the opening day gig for Clemson. “There is a lot of hard work and there are a lot of deserving guys on the staff as well that could have gotten the job.”

Saturday will be Weatherly’s first start since his freshman season, when he started five games. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound lefty was a reliever, making 21 appearances out of the bullpen and earning two wins. He had an ERA of 3.38 in 29 1/3 innings of work.

“Friday night is Friday night and it is cool, and it means something to me, but every game has value,” Weatherly said.

Lee said there was a lot of deliberation on Monday between he and his coaching staff, as they decided who would get the baseball first to start the 2020 season. Lee said he did not get home until after eight o’clock last night because they spent a lot time talking about it.

“Here is the thought process behind it,” Lee said. “Spencer has to start. He is going to be on a limited pitch count probably for four to six weeks. He has to start. We cannot pitch him out of the bullpen because of the nature of his rehab. So, he has to start.”

Of course, Strider is coming off Tommy John Surgery, due to an injury he suffered prior to the start of last season. The righty was expected to be the Tiger’ ace heading into 2019.

“If we start him in the middle of the week, which we discussed that, and we are able to build his pitch count, it is going to be a very slow process of building his pitch count, then we have no chance of getting him on the weekend if we pitch him in the middle of the week because he can’t recover fast enough pitching on a Tuesday to be able to pitch and start on the weekend.

“So, the thought process for us is to basically start him on Sunday and we would have two guys in that game we would look at as the starter.”

Lee continued by saying he anticipates Mat Clark will pitch behind Strider. He also could be Spencer and Keyshawn Askew pairing up as two guys making one starter.

“You sort of have to look it as an opener, which is what some major league teams will do,” Lee said. “They will start a guy who is a better reliever at the front on the game and then stretch a guy out that is behind him. So, that is what we are going to try and do because we want to try and build spencer up to hopefully, four to six weeks into the season to have him on a regular pitch count, but we are not going to be to do that for quite some time and we have to start him.”

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