Keenan Kish looks to earn starting spot

The biggest mystery for the Florida Gators baseball team heading into the 2013 season lies with the third starting pitcher slot.

Up until this point, Gators manager Kevin O’Sullivan has yet to name a starter and the competition has heated up between several players, including junior pitcher Kennan Kish.

Kish, who mainly appeared as a relief pitcher in 2012, is coming off of a strong campaign last season where he finished with a 1.98 ERA over the course of 27.1 innings. While he doesn’t have the starting pitcher experience in his first two years at Florida, Kish believes his preparation won’t change much.

“As far as preparation, being in the bullpen and closing, preparation is a little different as far as the daily routine,” Kish said. “But honestly the purpose is the same, just going out there and trying to win.”

“I feel comfortable doing both,” Kish said about the idea of pitching both as a starter and in relief. “It might be a little different, but at the end of the day it’s still pitching. I still have got to go out there and execute.”

Currently, Kish is battling sophomore outfielder and pitcher Justin Shafer, along with some freshmen who have impressed O’Sullivan, but the Florida manager refused to tip his hand as to who is the favorite to win the job.

“The outlook is positive, but we just don’t know who it is yet,” O’Sullivan said. “Probably by next weekend we’ll have a much better idea. There are some guys vying for the weekend spot right now, but we still have a few more scrimmages to go.”

Although an official third start hasn’t been named, O’Sullivan does recognize the value of having a versatile pitcher like Kish, who can start or close, in his weekend rotation. He believes Kish has earned the right to start after some clutch performances in the bullpen over the last two seasons.

“With Kish, we would like to start him because I think he’s earned the right to do that,” O’Sullivan said. “But if we don’t have any other options at the end of the game, we would be forced to [put Kish there]. I do feel comfortable with him right now that he’s put himself in a good position to start.”

Whether he earns the third starting pitcher position or not, Kish has been working hard in the offseason to develop a third pitch that could make him even more dynamic on the mound than in the two seasons prior.

“I’ve been really working on my changeup,” Kish said. “I’m really developing that as a third pitch so I can have that in my back pocket. Last year, I used it a lot against lefties, so I’m definitely working on that to be able to use it against righties and lefties so I can use it at any point.”

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Drew is a senior at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. When not at school, Drew resides in Lakeland, Fla. Ever since working on his high school yearbook, Drew has had an interest in pursuing a journalism career after college. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper, The Samford Crimson, Drew has also been with Gator Country as an intern for one year. He enjoys the finer things in life like Tampa Bay Rays baseball and always making sure to make fun of the Atlanta Braves to Andrew Spivey’s face.