Preston Clark Out for Regional, Perhaps More

Clark is out for the Regional (W.Gallagher/IT)

The Texas Longhorns will be without starting catcher Preston Clark when they take on the Brown Bears on Friday and may have lost him for even longer due to a freak accident.

Lewis and Clark are heading for Omaha, but Texas may have to go on without one of 'em.

Texas head coach Augie Garrido announced on Thursday that starting catcher Preston Clark will miss this weekend's regional, and maybe more, after twisting his knee while stepping on a curb during a jog. Clark will be replaced at catcher by back-up Brett Lewis.

Clark had an MRI taken on his knee and it turned out to be a sprain. Regardless of how quickly the knee heals, it's very clear that he will not be taking part in the Round Rock Regional. His status for the Super Regional remains unclear.

"Fate got into the picture," said Garrido. "We're treating it as serious."

There's currently no timetable for a return, but Garrido said he's very confident in his back-up catcher.

"Brett Lewis is an exceptional catcher and he's waited a long time and now he's getting his chance," said Garrido. "We don't feel like we're damaged or have a big hole in our sides."

Experience will certainly not be an issue for Texas at the position with Lewis taking over. The 5-foot-10, 192-pound senior started 53 games for UT-Arlington before transferring to Texas in 2006 and starting 25 games for the Longhorns his junior season (eight at catcher, 12 at second base and five at designated hitter). Lewis has also started 10 games for Texas this season.

In his time with the Longhorns, Lewis has worked at a variety of positions and maybe a little rusty at the position, but as for opponents stealing bases on the senior catcher, Garrido says he's plenty confident in Lewis' arm.

"He throws as well as a catcher needs to be able to throw," said Garrido. "He throws well enough to get 'em."

What Texas should miss most is Clark's offensive output. Hitting .286 on the year, Clark leads the Longhorns in doubles with 17 and is third on the team in both RBI (45) and homeruns (8).

Lewis is hitting .200 this season, with six runs scored, two doubles and two RBI in his 35 at-bats.

It's a disappointing break for Texas' pitching staff, who've worked this season with Clark as their starting catcher.

"It's disappointing, but you've got to deal with adversity and roll with the punches," said Texas closer Randy Boone.

James Russell will take the mound for Texas on Friday. Russell started the season on a tear, compiling a 7-1 record but has struggled a bit as of late, falling to 8-4 with 3.97 ERA overall. He'll look to bounce back against Brown. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

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