Ready or not, here it comes.
The Oregon State baseball team basked in sunshine and balmy temperatures at Goss Stadium on Wednesday in its final workout before Friday's 8:35 p.m. season opener at Hawaii.
Outlined against a bright blue February sky, the Beavers ran through bunting, base running and other situational drills in anticipation of the four-game set with the Rainbows, which runs through Monday at Les Murakami Stadium.
Coach Pat Casey's starting lineup and pitching rotation are just about set, subject - as always - to some last-second tweaking. The Beavers are scheduled to leave Portland late this afternoon.
Casey said the pitching and defense are ahead of the offense at this point so those two constants - hallmarks of his 2005-07 College World Series clubs - must carry the team early until the hitters come around.
"We obviously have pitching depth, that's where we have the most experience," Casey said. "We can use that to offset the inexperience we have offensively for a while.
"There are some guys who have to make a jump and take it to the next level. Our biggest concern is, when you're replacing people, you'd like to replace them in corners. We've got some work to do replacing guys in the middle," and locating the successors to productive veterans Ryan Ortiz (catcher), Joey Wong (shortstop) and John Wallace (center field).
"There's a lot of unknowns ... becoming a good offensive club, that's our challenge. How do we find out (where) we're good offensively? We try to take the hand we're dealt and use that as a strength, whatever it may be."
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio is nursing a tender right hamstring and will make the trip but isn't definitely in the projected rotation. Junior righty Tyler Waldron will start the opener, followed by junior lefty Tanner Robles on Saturday and junior righty Greg Peavey on Sunday.
Monday's starter is TBA and it could possibly be juniors James Nygren, Kraig Sitton or even Gaviglio, a freshman All-American and OSU's top returning pitcher.
"It's (determining) whether we use him in shorter stints to start with," or have him start and possibly go four or five innings, Casey said. "He's doing well right now; he felt great (Tuesday)" but there's no need to force the issue and risk greater injury.
The defensive lineup could very well be senior Rob Folsom (left field); senior Adalberto Santos (center field); junior Jared Norris (first base); senior John Tommasini (second base); sophomore Carter Bell (shortstop), junior Stefen Romero (third base); and freshman Andrew Susac (catcher).
Casey said he isn't sure who will be in right field. Juniors Michael Miller, Brandon Hayes and Andy Quiring and sophomore Brett Warren are in the mix.
The DH will be determined by whether Hawaii starts a left-hander or a right-hander. Warren, Hayes, sophomores Blake Gibbs and Dylan Jones and freshman Matt Boyd are possibilities there.
"Like always, we want to defend early," Casey said. "If you don't play defense early, you get in some extra pitch counts and things could get out of hand. We'll lean toward a defender (instead of) an offensive guy, anywhere."
Hawaii is picked to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference, behind Fresno State and New Mexico State. It's anchored by WAC freshman of the year Kolten Wong (.344, 13 homers, 44 RBIs), one of four returnees to start all 58 games in 2009.
"Going to Hawaii is always tough, but going to Hawaii right out of the chute is miserable," Casey said. "First trip, travel, a tough place to take young kids because there's a lot of distractions and it's a hard place to win.
"But maybe it's good to come out of the chute and play in a tough venue, a place where it's not easy and we have to focus on being cautious and mindful of what's going on around the yard."
Casey said he loves this team's work ethic; it practices hard, lifts hard and does a lot of things the right way. But it's still somewhat untested and has much to prove.
"There's more to the equation than just playing hard, being aggressive and doing your work," he said. "There's actually getting in the arena and doing it."
That process starts Friday.