Looking For Volunteers

More bad news today for Tennessee, which has already been playing without All-American outfielder Julio Borbon, who fractured his ankle last January and will be out for another month or so. The Volunteers will be out another All-American for this weekend, at least. Catcher J.P. Arencibia will miss this weekend’s series against Indiana-Purdue University-Fort Wayne with a strained muscle in his back.

“The injury began to develop during our series at Florida State earlier this month,” Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico said in a release. “He felt like he could play through it. But I probably should have rested him the last two weeks. We’ll rest him this weekend and possibly next weekend (against Illinois-Chicago) so that his back can heal. It’s in his best interest, as well as ours, to make sure he returns to full health as soon as possible.”

The Vols had played Arencibia at first base the last three games to keep him on the field without putting as much strain on his back, but he had to leave Sunday’s game against Bethune-Cookman after his first at-bat. Arencibia has never missed a start during his collegiate career, appearing in all 130 games since the start of the 2005 season.

The Volunteers had garnered a No. 11 ranking in the preseason based largely on their star power, but losing Borbon and Arencibia dramatically changes the makeup of the team. They still have healthy stars in shortstop Tony Delmonico and lefthander James Adkins, but Borbon was the catalyst atop the lineup and Arencibia was the big power bat in the middle of the order, and it won’t be possible to truly replace those two players.

Tulane also got some bad news today, as fifth-year senior lefthander J.R. Crowel was forced to give up his baseball career due to injury. Crowel missed all of 2006 after having surgery to repair a torn labrum, and he developed pain in his lower back during his rehabilitation. He had to give up his rehab to prevent further back problems from developing.

“Going 26-5 with the ERA that he’s had (3.85 in 302 career innings) and pitching in some of the big games he’s pitched in for us, that’s a heck of a three-year run,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said in a statement. “Not having the opportunity to come back for his senior year is a disappointing blow for everyone. But our thoughts are completely with J.R. and what he’s having to go through.”