Jan. 29, 2004
Each week before the start of the baseball season, GoLobos.com will provide an in-depth look at the different aspects of this year's team, including pitching, catching, infield, outfield, schedule and overall outlook. This week, the Lobo outfielders are previewed. The Lobos began practice on Saturday, Jan. 17 in preparation for their home opener at Isotopes Park Feb. 20.
The outfield appears to be the most stable unit for the Lobos. Two-year starter Matt Young will take over the reigns in center field after two years in left, co-captain and senior Sean Murray will start in right field for the second straight year, and junior college transfer Garrick Haymore will likely be in left field.
Young, a speedy junior, will be the leadoff hitter once again for the Lobos. The Murphy, Texas, native has started in all but three games in his career thus far at UNM. After earning Freshman All-America honors in 2002, Young batted .320 with 10 stolen bases and a .466 on-base percentage as a sophomore. Defensively, he has only committed four errors in two years (.972 fielding pct.) while collecting 40 assists.
"Matt is a really great defensive outfielder," Alday said. "He can really go get it. He will be in the lineup every game for us."
Murray came on as a surprise last year and earned a starting position in right field. He ranked in the top 10 of the MWC in four offensive categories, and led the Lobos with a .383 batting average (third in MWC). The Albuquerque native drove in 60 runs, scored 58 times and stroked seven homers and 20 doubles.
"Sean, as well as Jeff (Grady), are the team's verbal leaders - they really get the team together," said coach. "They did a tremendous job doing things for us and the players all offseason."
Haymore, who transferred from Eastern Arizona, looks to be the starting left fielder.
"Garrick is a real good contact hitter," said Alday. "He doesn't have a lot of power, but he hits the ball in the gaps and hits line drives. He'll hit some homers, but we're looking mainly just to get him on base. He's a natural infielder, but he's worked real hard in the outfield, and he's improved defensively."
Senior Joe Salas might see some time in the outfield, but he will likely be the designated hitter in order to save his arm for the bullpen. Salas, a 2003 first-team All-MWC honoree, is the team's top returning power hitter after slugging 16 homers last season, good for second in the MWC. An explosive hitter at the plate, Salas ranked in the top 10 of the MWC in eight offensive categories last season, including total bases (second, 158), slugging percentage (third, .664), RBI (56, seventh) and batting (.366, ninth).