ASU baseball switches Drew Stankiewicz back to shortstop

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Darin Gillies releases a pitch at a home game against California on April 13. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Darin Gillies releases a pitch at a home game against California on April 13. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Before the season, ASU baseball coach Tim Esmay said junior Drew Stankiewicz’s starting job at shortstop was one of the few positions locked in after Stankiewicz started a team-high 59 games in 2013.

Yet, it was freshman Colby Woodmansee who was starting at shortstop midway through the season after earning the job while Stankiewicz was out with injury. Now, Stankiewicz has taken back the starting role.

After playing nearly the entire season at second base to this point, Stankiewicz didn’t find out until the morning before the first game of the Stanford series that he was going back to his original position.

“I played there all last year, so I’m really comfortable with it,” Stankiewicz said. “I think he wanted me to go over there to give another guy an opportunity to get in the lineup a little bit. As long as I’m in the lineup, I don’t care where I play.”

Even with Stankiewicz’s versatility as a middle infielder, and on some occasions, even a third baseman, he admitted that it wasn’t the quickest transition to make.

“I got so used to playing second base you have a lot more time, you don’t have to get the ball as much — I kind of had to reboot my system a little bit,” Stankiewicz said. “I’ve got to get rid of the ball quicker, use my arm more, move my feet, but it’s coming back to me.”

The move to short left a vacancy at second, which has been filled by redshirt junior Tucker Esmay, who will likely see more regular playing time.

“When I was playing second, (Tucker Esmay) didn’t play very much. He just kept coming to me, wanting to get better,” Stankiewicz said. “He pushed me to take ground balls like they’re game situations, and I commend him for that. Now, he’s getting a chance to play, and he deserves it, because he’s been working hard every day. With me at short and him at second, I think we’ll make a good pair up the middle.”

Switching positions wasn’t Stankiewicz’s only major shift. Hitting in the No. 2 hole behind sophomore center fielder Johnny Sewald, Stankiewicz was bumped to the No. 7 spot, and Esmay inserted redshirt junior right fielder Trever Allen to face left-handed pitching.

“I’m a utility guy. I can play anywhere, and I was raised to play hard and to hustle everywhere,” Stankiewicz said. “(Whether it’s) stealing bags, diving after balls in the dirt, doing the little things right to chip away and score runs.”

While the original intent of the lineup switch was to counter lefties on the mound, coach Esmay has left the lineup as is.

“It’s nice that he has the ability to play both,” coach Esmay said. “We’re at the point in the season where if we have to make adjustments over the weekend, we’re going to do that. It’s all about the match ups.”

With no games scheduled until Friday, the extra time off should give the new pair up the middle a chance to develop chemistry heading into a three game series at UA beginning Friday.

Reach the reporter at smodrich@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @modrich_22