By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
A new look is part of the end of an era in University of Hawaii baseball.
The Rainbows not Warriors or Rainbow Warriors will open the 2001 season with a three-game series against Sacramento State starting Thursday. It is the final season for coach Les Murakami, who started the program in 1971.
Murakami remains in rehabilitation from a stroke he suffered Nov. 2. Carl Furutani is serving as acting head coach.
|University of Hawai'i acting head baseball coach Carl Furutani, center, is flanked by team captains, from left, third baseman Patrick Scalabrini, pitcher Wakon Childers, first baseman Danny Kimura and outfielder Scooter Martines. They are wearing the new uniforms for the 2001 season.
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
Keeping in line with the other athletic programs, the Rainbows will sport dark green as part of their uniforms. The familiar orange trim is missing from the jerseys and pants, but exists in fine print it simply reads "1971-2000" on the back of the caps. Orange has always been a part of UH baseball as a tribute to the AJA Sheridan baseball program, which supplied pants for the first UH teams.
Uniforms arent the only change at Rainbow Stadium. There is a new outfield wall 15 feet closer to home plate and two feet shorter than the original. The original dimensions of the 12-foot high wooden fence were 340 feet down the lines, 380 to the alleys and 400 to center.
"Awesome," said redshirt freshman left fielder Chad Boudon about the new wall. "Im excited."
He predicted third baseman Patrick Scalabrini would be the first to clear the wall this season. "He bats in front of me," joked Boudon.
On the defensive side, it might seem like less ground to cover. But not to the player who patrols center field.
"Its still pretty big," Derek Honma said.
If anything, the new dimensions give the Rainbows a better feel of ball parks on the road.
"The new dimensions are good," Furutani said. "What it does is it puts it in line with parks on the Mainland. We adjust here, we should be better off down there."
But it doesnt matter what the uniforms look like or how the stadium is reconfigured. The players have a task of improving on a 28-28 finish in 2000. They will have to do it with a brand-new starting rotation, which has seven candidates.
There are positive signs, such as the return of pitcher Wakon Childers from elbow surgery and Boudon from shoulder surgery. Childers was out the entire 2000 season and Boudon played in just seven games.
Even pitcher Sean Yamashita had offseason surgery, to remove a growth on a tendon in his right elbow.
But out for the season is outfielder Nate Jackson. A UH trainer said Jackson will need surgery on his fractured left foot. Jackson played football for the UH Warriors with the fracture.
Also, outfielder Scooter Martines is still rehabilitating from offseason shoulder surgery. He will not play in the upcoming series against Sacramento State.
Warm-up tosses: Rice is the only Western Athletic Conference team in the Baseball Weekly Top 25. The Owls are ranked 11th. Fresno State, San Jose State and Nevada also received votes. . . . Other UH opponents receiving votes were Wichita State and UCLA. The Bruins will play UH Feb. 1-3, while the Shockers will be here for the Easter Tournament in late March.
Tomorrow: A preview of the 2001 Rainbows.
[back to top]