When shortstop Brandon Loy was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the Longhorns lost half of their starting middle infield. After Jordan Etier was arrested and charged with marijuana possession and evading police four months later, it seemed as if they would lose the other half.
But Texas announced Wednesday that Etier would be reinstated to the baseball team and that the senior second baseman would serve a four-game suspension. In addition to sitting out four games, Etier will also not have a scholarship while playing for the Longhorns this season.
“With there being closure in Jordan’s case, the University decided to revisit the situation and his punishment,” said head coach Augie Garrido in a statement. “After he was dismissed from the team in the fall, Jordan continued to attend class which was looked on in a positive light by the administration. He also showed his intention to continue his education and graduate from the University of Texas whether or not he was member of the team, which demonstrated his effort to learn and grow from the incident.”
Garrido was himself suspended four games three season ago when he pleaded guilty to drunken driving in February 2009, a little more than two weeks after he was pulled over at about 1 a.m. and admitted to a police officer that he had consumed five glasses of wine. The NCAA Division I all-time leader in wins with 1,817 victories, Garrido was also sentenced to four days in Travis County Jail and fined $500 in July 2009.
Etier, who hit .237 as a junior last season, will be eligible to return to the Longhorns lineup Feb. 24 when Texas faces Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. The Cardinals are ranked No. 3 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll while the Longhorns checked in at No. 5. Stanford, who was swept in the Super Regional round last season by North Carolina – the team that knocked Texas out of the College World Series last year – lost two out of three to the Longhorns at Austin in 2011.
Texas will bring back three of its starting infielders from a year ago as catcher Jacob Felts and third baseman Erich Weiss will join Etier in his final season with the Longhorns. They will also return two starting outfielders, Mark Payton and Cohl Walla. Texas loses its ace, Taylor Jungmann, a first-round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in last June’s MLB Draft, and another starting pitcher in Cole Green, who was picked up by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round. But the Longhorns will welcome back southpaw starter Sam Stafford, who turned down the New York Yankees that drafted him in the second round and sensational closer Corey Knebel, who tied a school record with 19 saves as a freshman.
The Longhorns open the 2012 season with a three-game homestand against Duke beginning Feb. 17 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.