OMAHA, Neb. - Kurt Heyer is such a character, teammates and coaches say, that he sometimes defies description.
"If you didn't know better," said coach Andy Lopez, "you'd say he was left-handed."
That's because he is.
Arizona's ace revealed after Thursday's 10-3 College World Series win over Florida State that he, in fact, threw left-handed until he was 8 or 9.
He still eats, drinks, hits, golfs and plays pool as a lefty.
Heyer still isn't quite sure why his Sea View Little League Minor B Dodgers coach decided to turn him into a right-handed thrower 12 years ago in California. The Wildcats ace remembers asking his parents to buy him a new glove after the switch, and they - thankfully - agreed.
Heyer's been a right-handed thrower ever since, though his off-field quirks are more suited to a southpaw.
Baseball lore says lefty pitchers are oddballs, and generations of southpaws - from Bill "Spaceman" Lee to Barry Zito - seem to back it up.
Heyer falls right in line. Minutes after the Wildcats won Thursday night, the pitcher had his teammates and coaches in stitches with his impression of UA athletic director Greg Byrne. Heyer turned beet-red when Byrne asked to hear it, but - no stranger to pressure - he delivered something that sounded like a cross between Jimmy Stewart and Jimmy Johnson.
Heyer said he's "happy" to be a right-handed thrower, though he admits he wonders sometimes how good he would have been as a lefty.
"It's made me who I am, and I've been able to survive all this time as a righty," he said. "(But) I know where the coach lives. I want to walk up to him and say thank you, but that you also sort of ruined me a little bit."
Wade to start Game 1
Konner Wade will start Sunday's College World Series opener. Coaches will wait, however, to name a starting pitcher for Monday's Game 2.
"It'll be either (James) Farris or Heyer, but we'll start Konner on Sunday," Lopez said.
Wade threw a five-hit shutout against UCLA on Sunday, pushing the Wildcats further into the winners' bracket. Wade would have started had the UA-Florida State series gone to second game. Arizona, however, eliminated the Seminoles with a 10-3 win Thursday.
Farris, the team's usual No. 3 starter, hasn't pitched since the Wildcats' June 3 NCAA regional win over Louisville. He was available to pitch out of the bullpen this week, but wasn't used. Farris has been throwing "real competitive 'pens" in the last few weeks, Lopez said.
"At this point in the season, it's not like he's going to forget how to pitch," Lopez said.
Arizona will be the designated home team Sunday, and the visitor Monday. Tuesday's home team, should the game be played, will be decided by coin toss.
Batting gloves not used by all players
No players embody Arizona's old-school approach better than Seth Mejias-Brean and Alex Mejia, neither of whom wear batting gloves when they hit.
"I just feel like that layer of protection takes away the feel of the bat for me. I feel like I lose power, I lose contact," Mejia said.
Mejias-Brean said, simply, that he likes "the feel of the bat in my hands."
Both have tried to hit with batting gloves in the past, only to slump. They have become superstitious about it.
"I went in a slump every time I put them on," Mejias-Brean said. "It's my reason."
• Mejia and Heyer were both named second-team All-Americans by Baseball America on Friday.
The award is the latest for Mejia, the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year and defensive player of the year.
The junior from Sylmar, Calif., is hitting .361 with 90 hits and 52 RBIs. Heyer is 13-2, his latest win coming in Thursday night's victory.
• Former UA infielder Colt Sedbrook visited Friday's practice at Creighton University with the American Legion team that he's coaching. Sedbrook played for the Wildcats' 2008 super regional team, which Lopez says is still the best he has coached at Arizona.
• Arizona's extended stay in Omaha has sent members of the traveling party scrambling for coin-operated laundry. Lopez, a five-time CWS participant, has a system.
"I always pack for eight days," he said. "I learned this in my ministry studies once: Eight is the number of new beginnings. So I pack for eight days: That either means I'm going home, or I'm going to start another eight days."
Friday marked Arizona's 11th full day in Omaha.
"I had to do my laundry," Lopez said. "Well, my wife did it for me, thank god."