It’s been two and a half weeks since we reported that Pepperdine ace righthander Brett Hunter, a flamethrower who figured to be drafted in the top half of the first round, was dealing with forearm soreness that flared up after he tried to pitch through a nasty blister.
Today, Waves coach Steve Rodriguez revealed in an e-mail that Hunter will be "resting" until mid-April. There will be plenty of scouts anxious to get a look at him when he returns. It’s unclear yet just how significant this setback is, but while Hunter rests, other pitchers are passing him on draft boards.
Pepperdine has gone 12-6 since Hunter last pitched on Feb. 29 at the Dairy Queen Classic, but its pitching staff has not been as good as usual. Last year, the Waves posted a 3.33 team ERA; this year it’s 4.23 through 23 games. Newcomers Nate Newman, Scott Alexander and Matt Bywater have pitched well at times but have lacked consistency. Hunter’s return would take pressure off the rest of the staff.
In the meantime, Pepperdine has a good enough offense (averaging 7.6 runs per game through Sunday, second-best in the West Coast Conference) to stay afloat in the first half of the WCC schedule, which begins this weekend with a trip to high-powered Gonzaga, followed by series against St. Mary’s and San Francisco. The Waves must be hoping Hunter is back to full strength in time for the crucial May 2-4 series against San Diego.
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