Toole retools, Freie serves suspension, Blaser recovering well from surgery

BY RYAN YOUNG | APRIL 09, 2009 7:30 AM

Don’t let the 15-game hitting streak fool you — Iowa senior shortstop Justin Toole admits he’s been struggling at the plate recently.

On Tuesday against Kansas, Toole saw his offensive tear end abruptly as the Hawkeye co-captain uncharacteristically went 0-for-4. But following a 1-for-5 performance, including one RBI in a 9-3 loss to the Jayhawks on Wednesday, he stands poised to start another.

But right now, that’s the furthest thing from his mind, he said.

“It’s not really something that I pay too much attention to,” he said. “You know, it’s just go out and try to have a good approach, and if the ball falls, it falls.”

Last year, the Council Bluffs native went on a school record 25-game hitting streak, which ended just two games before the end of the 2008 season.

It was the fifth-longest Division-I streak in the nation at the time. And with 25 games left on Iowa’s regular-season schedule, Toole could potentially best that run — especially since he said he hasn’t altered his approach.

“I don’t think I am trying to do anything different,” Toole said. “It’s just going out there, and seeing a baseball, and putting a good swing on it. I mean that’s just about all you can do.”

Freie serves minor suspension

Iowa senior pitcher and designated hitter Wes Freie has been temporarily suspended because of a violation of team rules, Iowa head coach Jack Dahm revealed on Tuesday.

Dahm saidWednesday Freie was benched two games against Kansas and could see field time in the team’s weekend series with Indiana. The 6-3, 215-pound product of Wilton, Iowa, will be back in practice today.

“You know, he made a mistake,” Dahm said. “The big thing is how Wes will handle that.”

Before the suspension, Freie was one of six Iowa hitters boasting well over a .300 average, batting .330 with 10 doubles and 26 RBIs in 26 games played. He was also as the Hawkeyes’ primary home-run hitter, having recorded six.

Only senior first baseman T.J. Cataldo has managed to stay close to that number with five homers of his own.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Nick Brown replaced Freie at cleanup during Iowa’s series with Kansas.

On Tuesday in his first DH appearance, Brown went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Wednesday evening, he batted 2-for-4, striking out once.

As senior in high school, he hit .427 with 36 RBIs, stealing 12 bases as well.

“It was difficult not swinging a bat for a while — especially throughout the winter,” Brown said. “But coming out here and getting an opportunity like that, I wasn’t going to pass up on it. I knew I had to get a job done.”

Blaser recovering well from surgery

Just over one week after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, Iowa junior catcher Tyson Blaser is working his way back to the diamond.

Having been immobilized since March 31, Blaser said he plans to have his throwing hand wrapped in a hard cast by April 14 when the Hawkeyes travel west to face Nebraska. He expects to be in the cast for five or six weeks.

However, during that time Blaser will still try to help his team by being a bullpen catcher. He’s also looking to acquire redshirt status because of his injury.

“As it looks now, I am eligible for a hardship year,” he said. “We’ll see where that goes.”

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