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Gaviglio hopes to start soon for Beavers

Sam Gaviglio is starting to feel healthy again, just in time for the Pac-10 season.

The former Ashland High pitcher who emerged as Oregon State's staff ace as a freshman last season suffered a strained right hamstring two weeks before the Beavers' Feb. 19 season opener.

The preseason All-American has so far been used in a limited capacity, but that could change as early as this week, when the 10th-ranked Beavers (16-5) travel to face Southern California (13-12) in a Pac-10 clash at Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles.

"It's healing pretty slow, but it's feeling pretty good now," Gaviglio said.

Though limited, Gaviglio, a 6-foot-1 right-hander who throws a 92 mph fastball, has been almost untouchable in the preseason. In eight innings of work he's posted a 1.12 ERA with seven strikeouts and two walks. He's allowed just six hits and has two saves, but has yet to start.

Gaviglio is hoping that will change in L.A. He said he was nearly given the thumbs up for his first start of the season Saturday against Long Beach State, but ended up throwing 12/3 innings in relief.

"I've been waiting for a start," he said. "It's just whenever the coaches feel it's necessary and I'm still comfortable."

Though he's fared well in relief, Gaviglio prefers the role he's filled most of his pitching life.

"I'd rather start because I know when I'm going to pitch and I can prepare for it a little better," he said.

Gaviglio exploded onto the Pac-10 baseball scene last season, going from inexperienced reliever to starter to ace in a matter of weeks. He went 10-1 to set an OSU record for most wins by a freshman, and his other numbers were just as dazzling: 2.73 ERA, 55 strikeouts and nine walks in 622/3 innings.

When the Beavers' season ended, the accolades for Gaviglio poured in — Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American; NCBWA Freshman All-American (first team); Ping! Baseball Freshman All-American (first team); Baseball America Freshman All-American (second team); All-Pac-10 honorable mention.

In December, Gaviglio, along with fellow OSU pitcher Kevin Rhoderick, was named a Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American. That's a lot to live up to, but Gaviglio says he can handle it.

"It does add a little bit of pressure because you have more eyes watching you," he said, "but then again, it's still just a baseball game."