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College : : Story
Wimmers Anxious to Help Buckeyes Again
Jim Ecker    
Published: Sunday, May 16, 2010

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Alex Wimmers washaving a dream season for the Ohio State Buckeyes this year. He was 9-0 with a1.61 ERA, and school records were starting to pile up.

Then came April 30. He was getting ready for his Friday night assignment against the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. And unfortunately for Wimmers and the Buckeyes, he hasn't pitched since.

"Before the Michigan game, I went down to stretch before I was going to throw in the bullpen,"he explained Saturday. "I felt my hamstring pull and it just popped from there. I was like, 'Oh, man.'"

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior injured the hamstring in his left leg. That interrupted a stellar season, although he's still hopeful of pitching for Ohio State again this season as the Buckeyes chase a spot in the Big Ten tournament.

Wimmers missed his Friday starts against Michigan (April 30), Illinois (May 7) and Iowa (May 14). Ohio State lost all three games, dropping the Buckeyes below .500 in the tight Big Ten standings. All Wimmers could do was sit and watch.

"It's definitely frustrating, because you want to be out there," he said."But you've got to do what you've got to do. When I'm on the bench, I do the best I can to root my team on and try to give them any advice I might need if I was on the mound. But you really can't do much, just get yourself healthy and try to get back as soon as soon as possible."

Wimmers hopes to pitch against Minnesota this coming Thursday, Friday or Saturday in the final series of the Big Ten campaign in Columbus. "I'm definitely going to try," he said.

Wimmers was the winning pitcher in all nine of his appearances for Ohio State this season. His 9-0 record to start the year matched the best getaway in school history, and they've been playing baseball at OSU for 127 years.

He's allowed 12 earned runs in nine games, but five of those earned runs came in a sub-par outing against St. Louis on March 8. Otherwise, he's allowed only seven earned runs in the other eight games.

Now he has to sit and watch.

"It's definitely really frustrating, because I've worked my tail off to put myself in this position," he said before Ohio State faced Iowa on Saturday. "I had a good season last year, but I wanted to exceed it this year. I felt like I was doing it so far, going 9-and-0, and I had a lot of goals that I was on track for. But then when this (the injury) comes up, you just have to deal with it and move on from there."

Wimmers had never experienced an injury like this before. "You really don't realize how much of a pain it is until it happens to you," he said.

Wimmers went 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA last season as a sophomore. He pitched the first nine-inning no-hitter in school history, a masterful gem with 14 strikeouts against Michigan, and struck out 136 batters in 104 2/3 innings. He was named the Big Ten co-Pitcher of the Year and an All-American.

He's been even better this season, in most respects. He's allowed only 53 hits in 67 innings and is considered a prime candidate for the Major League draft in June.
 
"I would like to go in the first round," he remarked. "I feel like I am one of the best pitchers in the country, so I'd like to go in the first round. I believe I should go in the first round. But you have no control over it. All you have control over is how you do on the mound."

Wimmers throws a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a changeup and a curveball. He threw a slider last season, but not this year. His velocity has been good, but he'd rather change speeds and keep hitters off-balance.

"I've heard some talk about 94 (mph), maybe 95, but I just pitch," he said."I'm not one of those guys that can go out there and pump high-90s or mid-90s all the time.  I pitch like how I am. I use my off-speed to my advantage, to make my fastball look faster than it really is."

Wimmers has been named a candidate for the Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball, and also is a candidate for the Pitcher of the Year Award, selected by the College Baseball Foundation. His season has been interrupted, but there's still a chance to help Ohio State make the Big Ten tournament and a chance to reach the NCAA tournament.

"Hopefullywe can pull out a couple of more wins and get ourselves in the Big Ten tournament," he said.

Wimmers is from Cincinnati, where he starred at Archbishop Moeller High School. In a perfect world, he'll be selected by the hometown Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the draft.

"A big Reds fan. Love the Reds," he said with a big smile. "If I get chosen by them it would be great. But any team I get chosen by, so be it. I'm ready for it."