Keyes Could Return, Wetzler Status Still Undecided

Kavin Keyes could be back in the Beaver batting order ahead of schedule. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Oregon St. could get senior first baseman Kavin Keyes back a week earlier than hoped. Keyes, who fractured the thumb on his glove hand while tagging out a Washington St. runner on April 13. Keyes has been working out, and hit live in Wednesday's practice, as well as fielding, both without a brace, and experienced no ill affects.

"It's just a maybe for this weekend," Keyes said.

A bone scan and a CT scan today will determine if Keyes will be cleared for this weekend's showdown series with #5 Washington that will probably decide the Pac-12 Championship. The Huskies trail the second ranked Beavers by 1 game going into the showdown that is the premier series in the country this weekend.

Even if not cleared for this weekend, next week at USC is now in the "probably" category, an improvement from early estimates which had a return against the Trojans was the "best case", with the NCAA regional weekend a definite possibility for his return.

Head coach Pat Casey said he didn't know if Keyes would start right away, but that Keyes would play in some capacity this weekend if cleared.

Gabe Clark has been filling in adequately for Keyes, after some experimentation that also included Jerad Casper, Billy King and Dan James, but Keyes was hitting .325, and has 40 hits, still 5th best on the team, despite missing 13 games.

"It would be huge for us," cleanup hitter Dylan Davis said of getting Keyes back for the Husky series. "He's such a key part of our team; he has a lot of experience."

While the Beavers are anxiously awaiting Keyes' return, they still don't know whether senior pitcher Ben Wetzler, Oregon St.'s usual Friday night starter, and the program's all-time leader in wins, will be playing this weekend or not, in the aftermath of Wetzler's arrest last Saturday, after attempting to enter the wrong house, mistaking a neighbor's residence for his own.

Casey is still deliberating what to do, and when, in response to the matter.

"I spent a lot of time on it (Wednesday), but right now I don't have any decision," Casey said.

Davis' strong 5 inning performance on the mound in Tuesday's 8-4 win over Portland in Keizer gives Oregon St. options about how and when to use Scott Schultz, normally the Beavers' closer, but the best bullpen pitcher available, and one capable of working extended innings as well, should Casey opt to sit Wetzler this weekend.

Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers has tweeted that Casey has said Wetzler will pitch this weekend, but no statement as to when, and whether it would be in a start, has been released.

Casey has previously said "something" would be coming for Wetzler, but whether that involves any suspension, or whether it might come only after his court date, on June 9, are still unknowns.

Even if Casey gets good news on Keyes, or reaches a decision on Wetzler today, don't be surprised if the lineup remains fluid right up to first pitch Friday at 4, and probably even throughout the weekend.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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