Freitas at home behind the plate
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Although David Freitas will be wearing the visiting gray jersey, he'll feel right at home when Hawai'i starts a four-game Western Athletic Conference series tomorrow at Sacramento State.
It's a homecoming of sort for the Rainbows' catcher, who is from Elk Grove, just south of the state's capital.
"It will be fun," Freitas said. "I get to see my family, too. Then I'll get to play some ball."
Play ball he has. Freitas has started 29 of the team's 32 games. On several occasions when he got a breather behind the plate, he started at designated hitter to keep his bat in the lineup.
Freitas is batting .291 with five doubles and three home runs. His 21 RBIs rank third on the team behind Kolten Wong's 24 and Collin Bennett's 23.
The hometown Hornets (11-17-1), who begin their WAC season with this series, were interested in Freitas out of Elk Grove High. But so were other schools.
"We've known about him since he was in high school," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.
Freitas had an offer from Loyola Marymount, but he said because of NCAA qualifying issues, he ended up at Cosumnes River JC, where UH has picked up a number of players over the years. So when his two years were up at Cosumnes, Freitas had interest from Southern California and Cal State Fullerton. Even Sacramento State "talked to me once." But UH was looking for someone to fill the tools of ignorance from Landon Hernandez, who was done with eligibility after last season.
"But talking with Coach Trap (Trapasso), this was the best place for me," Freitas said.
Freitas, who hits cleanup, brings more than his bat to the game. He has accounted for three of the team's eight pickoffs and thrown out 47 percent of base stealers. He has shown good mobility for a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder.
"It's his work ethic, first and foremost," Trapasso said. "Nobody can out-work him. He's in the cage every day. Morning, noon and night, he's in the weight room."
Freitas said he'll have a contingent of supporters at Hornet Field and they won't be cheering on the Hornets.
"I'll have a lot of family and friends there, supporting Hawai'i," he said.
As for the series, Trapasso said Matt Sisto and Nate Klein — who both missed last weekend's Fresno State series — will make the trip. Sisto has been pegged as the game two starter for Saturday's doubleheader. Josh Slaats will start tomorrow's series opener and Sam Spangler will start Saturday's first game. Sunday's starter will be determined.
The series will not be broadcast on radio by ESPN 1420 AM. Live stats will be available at www.hawaiiathletics.com, UH announced.
Former UH catcher Esteban Lopez (2005 to 2006) is with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers), but on the seven-day disabled list.
And Landon Hernandez (2006 to 2009), another former UH catcher, was traded this week from the American Association Grand Prairie AirHogs to the Frontier League Gateway Grizzlies. His season doesn't start until May 11.