COLUMBIA -- South Carolina is getting a veteran arm back this weekend against Mercer.
Right-handed pitcher Wesley Sweatt will be available for the first time in over a year after coming off Tommy John surgery, coach Mark Kingston said Thursday.
"Wes Sweatt will be available this weekend," Kingston said. "He gives us another weapon out of the bullpen we have a lot of confidence in. That’s a nice development for us.”
Sweatt didn't pitch in any of the 16 games last season but was a weekend starter at times during his freshman season in Columbia.
He made 23 appearances in 2019, going 2-3 with four starts. He ended with a 4.33 ERA in 43.2 innings, striking out 31 and walking 12. Batters hit .273 against him.
Sweatt adds another option to a Gamecock pitching staff that has a 3.46 team ERA and .180 batting average against this season with 97 strikeouts and 31 walks.
But while Sweatt could see the mound, it's looking like a possibility the No. 13/14 Gamecocks could be without starting second baseman Jeff Heinrich for the weekend.
Heinrich, who missed the last two games, is still dealing with an ankle injury and might miss the Mercer series altogether in an effort to get his injury fully healed before Texas next weekend and SEC play in two weeks.
This season he's hitting .350/.333/.400 with four RBI.
“Jeff is still day to day. My guess is there’s a chance he might miss this weekend. He’s making progress, so it’s not a long-term deal," Kingston said. "But I want him to be 100% before he’s back and I don’t want him to aggravate it. We have other guys who are more than capable of playing great baseball."
If Heinrich can't go, then the Gamecocks (7-0) have a few options in Joe Satterfield and Braylen Wimmer.
Satterfield made his first career start Tuesday night at second base against Winthrop, going 3-for-5 with five RBI.
Wimmer's started one game at second this season (the Sunday game against Clemson) but the majority of his innings have come in the outfield. This season he's hitting .429/.520/.952 with three homers and four RBI.
“Wimmer can play there but Joe Satterfield did a nice job the other night in his start. We have options. I look at how our guys are doing against lefties versus righties. I look at how the opposing pitcher does against our lefties and our righties," Kingston said. "We look at a lot of things before we make out a lineup. We just try to put guys in positions where they have their best chance to be successful.”
Mercer will start three right-handers this weekend in Tommy Green (0-1, 1.80 ERA), Taylor Lobus (1-1, 5.56 ERA) and Jackson Kelley (1-1, 5.19 ERA).