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The Bounce: UA’s Lopez hires ‘a pest’ as an assistant

<h4>Better luck next time </h4></p>
<p>White Sox fans sit in the stands after Chicago's 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series in Chicago. The Rays advanced to the AL championship series.

<h4>Better luck next time </h4>

White Sox fans sit in the stands after Chicago's 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series in Chicago. The Rays advanced to the AL championship series.

Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez called Jeff Pickler “a pest” when the former Tennessee star played Lopez’s old Florida team.

Now Pickler, 32, will work alongside Lopez after chosen as an UA assistant coach Monday. Pickler replaces Jeff Casper, who took a job at Raytheon.

Pickler, an advanced scout with the Arizona Diamondbacks the last two years, will start his first full-time coaching job when the Wildcats open fall workouts Oct. 13.

“He was a real pest,” Lopez said about facing Pickler, the 1998 Southeast Conference player of the year. “He was always on base doing things and always in the right place at the right time.”

Able to do a little bit of everything was one reason Pickler is joining the Wildcats.

“One of the things I really enjoy is coaching the game. I have a burning desire to coach,” Pickler said. “I have always felt it was a good thing to be a student of the game and to know all the different aspects. I hope that I can bring that kind of knowledge to the players we have at UA.”

He is the son of Scott Pickler, the coach at Cypress (Calif.) College, who has won more than 600 career games and coached former UA players Trevor Hoffman and Jason Bates.

Jeff Pickler played in Milwaukee, Texas and Colorado organizations after graduating magna cum laude from Tennessee.

As an advance scout for the Diamondbacks, he broke down game plans of the team’s next opponents, their weaknesses and strengths.

“I have always held UA in a very high regard, going back to when my dad sent Jason Bates and Trevor Hoffman to the school,” Jeff Pickler said. “It is not just a Division I school, but a great place to start my coaching career.”

Bates played for Arizona in the early 1990s, while Hoffman left the program in the late 1980s and became the major league baseball save leader.

Casper coached at UA for parts of five years since leaving school and being a letter winner as a catcher and infielder.

“(Casper) has been a valuable asset to our team and we wish him the best,” Lopez said of the former Salpointe Catholic standout. “He just felt it was time to get away from this profession.”

UA football injury updates

• Arizona football player Zander Fabbri is on a medical leave this semester for health concerns.

The linebacker from Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif., suffered a concussion during fall camp. Stoops said he had health issues before, but is expected to enroll in the spring.

• Arizona cornerback Devin Ross won’t miss Saturday’s game against Stanford despite leaving early with a groin injury last weekend.

• Offensive tackle Adam Grant (finger) and quarterback Matt Scott (possible concussion) will be kept out of practice for a day or two.


Cats get two votes

Arizona has picked up a couple of voters in the AP media poll following its 48-14 victory over Washington.

One of those is ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who has talked positively on air about the Wildcats all season.

Herbstreit picks the 4-1 Wildcats at No. 22, making UA his second-highest team from the Pac-10 team. He has USC seventh and Cal at No. 23.

John Hunt of the Oregonian newspaper is the other voter among the 65 in the AP poll who lists Arizona. He has the Cats 25th.

I have one of those AP votes, but can’t see putting the Wildcats in the Top 25 just yet, given their poor strength of schedule and a “bad” loss at New Mexico on Sept. 13 (36-28).


agimino@tucsoncitizen.com (agimino@tucsoncitizen.com)

Bob Stoops beat out Mike

Chalk up a slight victory for older brother Bob when it comes to playing Washington.

Bob Stoops’ highly ranked Oklahoma team defeated the Huskies in Seattle 55-14 on Sept. 13. Mike Stoops’ Arizona squad knocked out Washington to the tune of 48-14 at Arizona Stadium.

If you’re keeping score, Washington’s Tyrone Willingham is 103-28 against the Stoops brothers this season, giving up a combined 1,040 yards in the two games. Staggering. Arizona had 449 of that total Saturday night.


Finch to be on talk show

Former Arizona softball great Jennie Finch is scheduled to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday.

The two-time Olympic medalist is part of a fundraiser to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research, according to USA Softball.

This past summer, Finch, a UA All-American, was a member of Team USA’s silver-medal winning team. Four years ago she was part of Team USA’s gold medal effort.


srivera@tucsoncitizen.com (srivera@tucsoncitizen.com)

Schilling may return

Curt Schilling is considering coming back next year – for the second half of the season – he told Sporting News.

The Boston Red Sox right-hander underwent season-ending shoulder surgery June 23.

The Associated Press