With a big series looming this weekend at Ole Miss, Pedro Alvarez figured it was time to get back into the Vanderbilt baseball lineup earlier this week.
The injured junior All-America third baseman was cleared to play by doctors Monday, then immediately requested to be on the field Tuesday when the Commodores played host to Southeast Missouri.
“Once the doctors told him he was fine and couldn’t injure his hand anymore, I think that gave Pedro some a sense of easiness,” VU coach Tim Corbin said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m ready right now, and I need the at-bats before we go to Ole Miss.’”
Alvarez had one hit while batting third Tuesday, popping a double into the gap in left-center field, then went hitless in four at-bats Wednesday at Middle Tennessee.
Those appearances were his first since breaking a bone in his hand in the Feb. 22 season opener.
“I felt good out there, but my timing is off,” Alvarez told VandySports.com after Wednesday’s game. “There’s only so much you can simulate in practice. I’m looking forward to this weekend. I need to be ready to face Ole Miss.”
While Alvarez has yet to find his groove, Corbin believes it’s only a matter of time before Alvarez returns to the form that helped him belt 40 home runs in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt.
“I think his timing is a little off, but that’s to be expected,” Corbin said. “He probably thinks he should get in there and have results right away, but it’s just a matter of repetitions now. He’s just misfiring a little bit with his barrel, but I don’t think it’s going to take him very long.”
The eighth-ranked Commodores might need all the offense they can muster this weekend against a vaunted Ole Miss pitching rotation of Lance Lynn, Cody Satterwhite and Drew Pomeranz.
Corbin predicts each will eventually pitch in the Major Leagues.
“From a pitching standpoint, they have the potential to really shut you down,” Corbin said. “They’re difficult to solve. We’re really going to have to hit well in order to beat these guys.”
Vanderbilt will counter with ace Mike Minor tonight and Caleb Cotham on Saturday. Sunday’s starter has yet to be determined. Candidates are Taylor Hill, Brett Jacobson and Russell Brewer.