Roving around, many Mavs can play multiple positions

Mesa St first baseman Marty Rover at bat against Highlands

Marty Rover played shortstop in high school, came to Mesa State College to catch and is now playing first base.

It may seem odd to some, but he’s one of several Mesa baseball players that have learned to play a different position for an opportunity to play.

“I always thought I’d catch at the next level (college),” Rover said. “That’s what I saw myself doing.

I caught the summer after my senior year. I came in here expecting to catch, not really expecting short at all. First base kind of developed my freshman year.”

The junior from Tempe, Ariz., didn’t play first base until he came to Mesa State, but learned he would likely have to learn the position if he was going to play.

“Marty’s a versatile kid,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “He’s a left-handed bat. He’s a good situational hitter. He has occasional power. He brings a lot to the table. ”

Rover, who throws right-handed, has started 10 of the past 12 games at first base for the third-ranked Mavericks (24-5, 14-2 RMAC), who host CSU-Pueblo (23-8, 12-4 RMAC) in a key four-game series this weekend. He is hitting .411 with four doubles and 13 RBI.

“I felt like I’ve finally found a rhythm,” Rover said. “I’ve got some consecutive at-bats, which always helps no matter who you are.  Consistency is the name of the game .”

Rover isn’t the only Mesa State player in an unfamiliar position. He is one of eight high school shortstops playing somewhere else on the diamond.

“Number one, we look for athletes in the recruiting process, but we spend a lot of time in the fall with guys playing a variety of positions,” Hanks said. “We do that so it gives us options of ways to get our best bats in the lineup and a way to construct your best defense without giving up offense.  ”

Rover learned to be open to playing different positions growing up.

“When I was young, I’d catch so I could catch if they needed it,” he said. “Then it turned into I’ll catch all the time, but be able to play the infield.”

When he started high school, Rover was a catcher. He finished high school playing shortstop.

Although he’s switched positions several times throughout his baseball career, he’s learned to

“Catching you see the whole field, but don’t see the whole game,” Rover said. “At short, you’re right in the middle of the action. It’s helped me become a better first baseman, playing short in the past.

“Playing first base, I’ve been able to adjust by the things I’ve learned catching as far as positioning myself and seeing hitters swings.”


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