Healthy Manship Ready to Go

Jeff Manship

Jeff Manship is the highest-rated pitching prospect ever to attend Notre Dame. Ranked third in the country coming out of high school, the talented right-hander was a huge catch for head coach Paul Mainieri and the Irish baseball program. There was a time, though, that Manship thought he was headed elsewhere but a visit to South Bend changed all that.

"I was looking at Tulane," Manship said, who hails from San Antonio, Texas. "I honestly was almost going to Tulane. But then when Notre Dame came into the picture, that kind of went away. Once I came on my visits here, I loved it. It was awesome. The baseball here was top-notch and the academics are great."

Irish baseball fans will get a chance to see the highly touted Manship in full health once the baseball season kicks off on February 23rd. Unfortunately, the junior hurler has had to overcome some obstacles during his time at Notre Dame. Tenderness in his elbow eventually led to Manship undergoing "Tommy John" surgery and sitting out his freshman year.

"It was a huge blow but I think I'm getting back now," Manship said. "Everything is fine. It was tough to sit out for awhile and watch everyone play and not be a part of it. Maybe I could have helped out and we could have gone a little further. It was tough and I had to workout all time. But it was for the better. In the end, this will help me out."

Manship also credited Mainieri for not giving up on him when the injury occurred.

"He's unlike any other coach I have ever had," Manship said of his head coach. "Especially with what happened with my arm, he takes care of me. If I was somewhere else, I could have been sent to a JUCO because my arm was hurt the way it was. But he's been on my side the whole time. He's awesome to play for."

Manship did get back on the mound during his sophomore season but in limited action. A 3.97 earned run average was accumulated over 22.2 innings pitches. In those appearances, he struck out 20 batters and did not allow a home run. Manship admitted that pitching coach Terry Rooney has been instrumental in his development and return from a serious injury.

"If anything, I would say I'm better now than before the setback," Manship said. "I've learned so much through Rooney. I've had a lot of time to sit down with him and talk about pitching. I definitely have learned a lot more. Physically, I've gained a lot more weight, which is good for me. I think I'm throwing consistently harder than I was in high school."

Manship's pitching will be needed to help the Notre Dame squad meet expectations for the upcoming year. The Irish are ranked 22nd in the preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers poll. Notre Dame returns eight of nine position players and 13 of their top 14 (pitchers excluded) from a team that went 38-24-1 last year and was the runner-up in the NCAA Gainesville Regional. The Irish have won four straight Big East tournaments and will be the odds-on favorite to make in five in a row this season.

"We always have high expectations," Manship said. "I think this year, we realize we have high expectations. I think we can do it this year. The chemistry on our team is the best I've ever seen it since I've been here. That speaks a lot for ourselves."

The early season schedule and the nasty South Bend weather in the beginning months of the year sends Notre Dame on the road until a home date on March 21st against Wright State. The first 15 games are away from Eck Stadium. A bonus, though, for Manship is that the team is spending a week-plus in his hometown of San Antonio to compete in the UTSA Tournament and the Irish Classic. Notre Dame is scheduled for eight contests in the Lone Star state and Manship is eager for the homecoming.

"It's going to be awesome," Manship said. "I get to see all my old high school friends. We get to stay with host families when we're down there. I'll get to stay with my parents, which is always good. I'll get some home-cooked food."

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