The TCU baseball team holds the first practice of the season at Lupton Stadium. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison) rmallison@star-telegram.com
The TCU baseball team holds the first practice of the season at Lupton Stadium. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison) rmallison@star-telegram.com

TCU

TCU’s Luken Baker, now off mound, eager to try first base-DH role

January 30, 2017 11:25 AM

UPDATED January 30, 2017 01:57 PM

TCU designated hitter, and now first baseman, Luken Baker says he’s ready to play in the field again.

Where things will be a little more hopping.

“DH’ing was exciting, but sometimes it gets a little boring or whatever; your team’s out there on the field, and you’re sitting,” he said Friday before the Horned Frogs’ first practice in preparation for the season opener Feb. 17 against Penn State. “I’m excited to get out there, play some first base.”

Baker is expected to be strictly a hitter in 2017 for top-ranked TCU after hitting and pitching last season. A strained forearm in forced him out of an April start mid-inning, and he didn’t pitch again.

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He opted in the off-season to not try to pitch this year.

I’ve never had to choose one or the other. I’m excited to see how this goes.

TCU designated hitter Luken Baker

“I’ve never had to choose one or the other,” the sophomore from Conroe said. “I’m excited to see how this goes. I’m ready to do whatever I can to help this team win.”

It’s easy to see how Baker can help with his hitting. As a freshman last season, he hit cleanup in every game and led TCU in home runs, average, slugging percentage, runs scored, runs batted in and total bases and was second in walks. He hit seven of his 11 home runs in postseason play.

Luken Baker in 2016 led the Big 12 in hits, run scored and runs batted in, tied for second in walks and was third in home runs.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said the playing time at first base is important to Baker’s professional future.

“He’s a good first baseman, No. 1,” Schlossnagle said. “No. 2, it’s important to prove to professional baseball that he can play a position, which he no doubt can. So we’re fully prepared. He’s going to play out there a lot.”

TCU used two first basemen last season, Connor Wanhanen and Michael Landestoy. Both are returning players.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

No. 1 TCU vs. Penn State

6:30 p.m. Feb. 17