Stanford's Pitcher Took Long Route to Starter's Job

May 31, 2001

By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Jeremy Guthrie's pursuit of the College World Seriesstarted at Brigham Young, detoured to Spain and wound up this season atStanford.

A 22-year-old sophomore, Guthrie has blossomed with an 11-4 record and a2.78 ERA as the Cardinal bid for a third straight trip to Omaha.

'I came here with expectations I'd play a little,' he said. 'They didn'thave any starters coming back this year. The coaches really showed a lot offaith in me.'

Before this season he was a largely unknown commodity, last pitching as afreshman back in 1998 at Brigham Young, where he went 5-3 with a 6.10 ERA in 15starts.

His baseball career then was put on hold when he went on a Mormon mission toSpain, where he spent two years in five cities. He didn't touch a baseball thewhole time.

'I was 19 years old, and I think when you're younger and you don't havethat many responsibilities it allows you to focus,' he said. 'It was a goodage to do it.

'I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew the right thing would happenwith baseball, whether it worked out or it didn't.'

When his mission was finished, he was prepared to head back to BYU. But thenhis parents - out of the blue - asked him in a letter if he might considergoing to Stanford. In his absence, his old high school coach in Oregon had beentalking him up to Stanford's baseball staff.

Guthrie, who in high school pitched and played third, was quarterback forthe football team, a point guard in basketball and the class valedictorian,admittedly wasn't very polished on the mound.

'I guess he saw a lot of potential in me in high school,' said Guthrie,who was surprised at his old coach's support. 'I didn't get a lot of innings,I just kind of went out there and threw it.'

After deciding on Stanford, Guthrie threw for the first time in two yearslast fall. He felt weak and out of balance.

So he went to the weight room and built back his body and his confidence.Soft-spoken and exceedingly polite, Guthrie developed a fastball in thelow-to-mid 90s, and refined his curveball and slider.

Since all three of Stanford's starters from last season had moved on, andjunior Mike Gosling was battling tendinitis, Guthrie earned a starting role.

'Here's a guy who hasn't thrown a ball for four years and he transfers in.We don't know what we're getting,' Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. 'Weweren't even going to count on him. I thought we would just give him someinnings. But he gives us 11 wins and he's our Friday starter.'

Guthrie, named Pac-10 player of the week twice, threw a one-hitter overseven innings against Florida State on Feb. 9, earning Marquess his 1,000thcareer victory.

Stanford (46-15), nationally the No. 4 seed, hosts a super regional thisweekend against South Carolina (48-18), with the winner heading to the CollegeWorld Series.

In other super regionals all starting Friday, Mississippi State (39-22)plays at Cal-State Fullerton (44-16), Clemson (41-20) is at Miami (47-12),Florida International (43-19) plays at Southern California (51-12), LouisianaState (43-20-1) plays at Tulane (53-10), Florida State (46-17) is at Georgia(45-19), Tennessee (44-18) plays at East Carolina (47-11), and Rice (47-18) isat Nebraska (48-14).

Guthrie has faith the Cardinal will make it to Omaha.

But even then, his adventures won't end. He will marry his girlfriend, JennyWilliams, four days after the championship game.

And then, because he's over 21, he could get drafted. Guthrie is open to amove to the pros.

'We're willing to sign,' he said. '(My fiance) supports that idea, and myfamily does, if it's the right situation. But I wouldn't mind at all if I wasback here next year.'

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