It’s unclear whether University President Larry Summers had ever been to a Harvard baseball game prior to popping in during the team’s victory over Duquesne last week in Bradenton, Fla. Even if he had, he probably didn’t recognize many infielders.
With the graduation of three starting infielders in June and a massive recruiting class, a number of the Crimson’s freshmen seem poised to make an immediate impact by the time the Ivy season opens. Freshmen Zak Farkes, Lance Salsgiver and Josh Klimkiewicz could all start the home opener on April 2.
“They’ll get to a lot more balls at second and third,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “At short, Mage [Mark Mager ’02] got to a lot of balls, so that’s kind of moot, but overall this is a more athletic group.”
For the moment, it’s also an incomplete group. Klimkiewicz, the leading candidate to start at third base, will miss the next two weeks with a sprained ankle. The Lexington, Mass., native—like Farkes, a product of Cambridge’s Buckingham, Browne and Nichols school—has seen limited spring action so far.
The sprain is another minor setback in what has already been a challenging adjustment for Klimkiewicz, who missed his senior season at BB&N with a torn ACL sustained during football season. The freshman had also been working to make the transition from the shortstop position he played in high school.
“During the fall, it was giving me some trouble,” Klimkiewicz said. “There’s not as much time to react to seeing the ball of the bat, it comes off a lot quicker. It’s a different kind of throw. But I took reps all through the fall, it felt good.”
Aside from their athleticism in the field, the freshmen are also expected to represent a major upgrade at the plate. Once Klimkiewicz makes his way back, Walsh expects decent pop.
“He’s a guy who, with his bat, could be a 4 or a 5 [hitter] for us,” Walsh said of the 6’1 freshman. “It’s tough when you’ve got the ankle sprain, and it’s tougher when you’re a big guy. And it’s even tougher when you’re coming off a torn ACL.”
The rest of the infield continues to sort itself out. Farkes, perhaps the most promising addition, enjoyed an error-free first five games between shortstop and second base.
Sophomore Ian Wallace, who played a lot of second base last year as well as right field, played much of the weekend at short. Freshman Lance Salsgiver was used at third and in right field, and Morgan Brown was also used at the hot corner.
“He’s an everyday type,” Walsh said of Salsgiver. “With his versatility, he’s someone who could also help us a lot in the outfield.”
Amidst the jumble, there’s a general sense of enthusiasm about what the freshman class is capable of, both immediately and in seasons to come.
“I think it’s great,” Klimkiewicz said of the youth-laden roster. “It puts a lot of pressure on you, knowing that you’ll play as a freshman. But it’s only going to make us better, having four years together. Three years from now, we’ll feel even more comfortable. You can’t feel any better than that.”
The doubleheader at Sacred Heart (Conn.) scheduled for tomorrow at 12 p.m. may be pushed back to Sunday, depending on weather and scheduling considerations for both teams. An announcement is expected later today.
—Staff writer Martin S. Bell can be reached at email@example.com.