Texarkana torn between Wacha, Middlebrooks

Texarkana torn between Wacha, Middlebrooks
October 22, 2013, 10:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

BOSTON -- Texarkana, Texas, will be put to the test over the next week to 10 days. Two of their favorite sons are playing on opposing teams in the World Series – Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks and Cardinals rookie right-hander Michael Wacha.
 
“They’re going pretty crazy right now,” Wacha said.
 
Wacha has been named the Cards' the Game 2 starter Thursday night. While Middlebrooks is not expected to be in the starting lineup, there is a possibility the two could face each other.
 
“It’ll be good,” Wacha said.  “He’s a great hitter, so I have to be careful with him. I have to make effective pitches to him and try not to think about who’s batting and just think about just making my pitch.”
 
“Oh, I hope I do, I hope I do,” Middlebrooks said. “Just for us, our families, our friends, and just everybody who grew up playing with us.”
 
Middlebrooks and Wacha went to different high schools, graduating in different years – Middlebrooks to Liberty-Eylau High on the south side of town and Wacha to Pleasant Grove High on the north. The two division 3A schools have a rivalry that goes back 30-40 years.
 
They played against each for two years in high school and then together on summer teams. Middlebrooks was selected by the Sox out of high school in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Wacha went to Texas A&M, where the Cardinals took him with the 19th overall pick in 2012.
 
There’s little, though, that Middlebrooks can offer his teammates in the way of scouting reports on his former teammate.
 
“No,” Middlebrooks said with a laugh. “He’s a completely different player than he was in high school.  just from watching him this year, we know he likes his fastball. He’s very confident in his fastball, and where he can put it. Seems like he can hit a floating cheerio up there, he’s so good at hitting his spots.
 
“He’s always been a good pitcher," Middlebrooks said. "He’s always been a guy who’s hit his spots and knew how to pitch. A lot of guys didn’t know how to use the stuff they had. He really didn’t start throwing too hard until his senior year of high school when he stared hitting 90. And when I was there he was like mid-80s, maybe upper 80s once in a while. But he wasn’t’ like a dominant pitcher. He was really good because he knew how to pitch, he knew how to use all three pitches and once he went to Texas A&M he really turned into the pitcher he is now. He got taller [6-feet-6], he got stronger, and worked with a lot of good coaching and you look up now and he’s throwing 96.”
 
Wacha and Middlebrooks have kept in touch, talking and texting throughout the season. Wacha planned to catch up with Middlebrooks at some point in the next few days, even if was just in the outfield while their teams are working out.
 
“When they made the playoffs we were exchanging texts and, ‘Hey, hope to see you in the World Series,’" Middlebrooks said. "It’s pretty cool. Everyone back home in Texarkana, they’re so proud. They’re going pretty crazy right now
 
“It’s very hard to believe. Thinking back to just summer ball days in highs school.  I don’t know, It’s just crazy thinking about how far we’ve come really,” Wacha said
 
Which creates a dilemma for the folks back home.
 
“They’re just: ‘I don’t’ know who to cheer for, we got both guys from Texarkana,’” Wacha said. “I don’t’ think they really ever expected this. They’re just real excited, both high schools, where we’re from are very excited, very proud. It’s fun to watch.”