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Baseball: Injuries have Boulder tweaking plans as season begins

  • Paul Aiken

    Boulder pitcher Grant Rogers is aiming to help lead the Panthers back into the postseason after missing out a year ago.

  • Paul Aiken

    Boulder pitcher Grant Rogers stands 6-foot-6, 230 pounds.

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Baseball coaches seem to revise plans just as often as they devise them.

Exhibit A is Steve Disbrow. By the ended of the summer, the Boulder skipper had his lineup penciled in for the spring.

But injuries to two projected starters — both occurring while they were competing in other sports — caused Disbrow to modify his blueprint before the season even started.

Infielder Tommy Baumgartner tore several knee ligaments during football season and, more recently, pitcher Austin Blessing endured a torn labrum in his hip during basketball season.

Despite this, Disbrow brims with optimism. He got a player back in third baseman Levi Chandler, who had a solid freshman season but studied abroad in the Bahamas last season. Plus, the Panthers will have a sturdy top of the rotation with senior Kevin Flores and mammoth sophomore Grant Rogers.

“Those are two guys who can beat anybody on any given day, so I feel great about having those two being the workhorses for us this spring,” Disbrow said.

Blessing had been penciled in as the third starter. Now, that spot is up for grabs among four or five players, who also will compete for relief roles. Offensively, the Panthers (7-11-1 last season) must replace a few key seniors and, now, Baumgartner.

Speedy Loic Guegan, a center fielder, could slide into the leadoff spot, and outfielder Luke Bukowski, first baseman Ray Feigal and catcher Nate Marcotte also figure to occupy key spots in the lineup.

“Plus, getting a guy like Levi back in the lineup is huge for us,” Disbrow said. “He had a really nice freshman year. Having him in the middle of our lineup will be a huge boost offensively.”

Don’t be surprised if the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Rogers has a breakout season on the mound. In a two-day span over the summer, Rogers won the Longmont Junior City golf tournament and pitched eight solid inning in a 5-4 win against Brighton in the Legion A baseball playoffs.

A few weeks before, Rogers threw all nine innings in an 8-1 win against Fairview, in which he yielded only four hits.

“I’m excited, because Kevin had an outstanding summer and I think I had a good summer,” Rogers said. “And I definitely improved over this winter. We’ve thrown a few bullpens, and from what I’ve seen, we appear to have pretty deep pitching.”

Rogers hasn’t decided whether he’ll pursue baseball or golf as his primary sport in college.

“It’s pretty close between the two,” he said. “I’m planning on playing them both through high school, then seeing which one will take my life further.”

Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21