Corey Slavik: An 'Infielder At Heart'

May 12, 2000

Gold Rush Front Page

By Jay Reddick

Corey Slavik, the starting third baseman on the baseball team, calls himself "an infielder at heart."

Watching him now, that much is obvious. He was voted the best defensive third baseman in the ACC by Baseball America before the season started.

But what most people don't remember is that Slavik wasn't always an infielder. In fact, the multitalented junior was first recruited as a catcher.

Slavik was the starting third baseman at Boca Ciega High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., and before the recruiting process began, his only catching experience had been on an AAU team when he was 16. But that didn't stop him from telling the Deacon coaches he could catch.

"Not many schools recruited me," Slavik said. "Wake Forest was looking for some help behind the plate, and Steve Granese, a good friend who was a junior here then, told them I could catch. They asked me if I could, and I said 'Sure.' I was going to do anything to get on a team like that."

Slavik worked on his catching skills during his senior year at Boca Ciega, and by the time his freshman preseason rolled around, he was competing with Granese for the backup catcher's job behind Andrew Riepe.

Even then, though, Deacon coach George Greer knew that Slavik could move to another position at a moment's notice.

"Slavik is a great athlete who has played a lot of different positions, and we're refining his catching skills to take that (backup) spot," he said at the time.

The move came sooner than anyone expected. Slavik never caught a game in old gold and black, and on Valentine's Day against Radford, the Deacs' second game of the year, he started at third and homered in his first collegiate at-bat.

He's never looked back, except maybe to chuckle a little bit.

"All that time, I was still an infielder at heart," Slavik said. "That probably hurt my blocking sometimes."

Today, Slavik is a mainstay in the field and at the plate, where his average at the end of April hovered around .300, with seven homers and 42 RBIs. He hasn't been as happy with the consistency of his hitting the last two seasons (he hit. 272 a year ago after a .375 freshman campaign) but is still finding plenty of ways to contribute.

"I started off a little slow, then got a little hot," Slavik said. "I'm settling into a rhythm now, and I've been playing well defensively."

Ever since he was a member of an 11-man recruiting class three years ago, Slavik has never played for a Wake Forest team that didn't win the ACC title and advance to the postseason. That in itself, he said, is important for this team's future.

"The juniors who came in with me are accustomed to this," he said of the Deacs' postseason success. "We expect to go, and we expect to do well. This team doesn't necessarily have the one or two superstars we've had in the past, but we're deeper and we have more experience, and that can do nothing but help us get to Omaha (and the College World Series)."

The team came two steps short of Omaha a year ago, losing in the super-regional to top seed and eventual champion Miami. Slavik isn't one to make excuses about the opposition, though.

"Some people said some things about us having to go to Miami, but I don't see it," Slavik said. "We'll have to play a good team sooner or later if we're going to win the national championship. We've got to beat that team. You have to play the best you can, and we didn't in that series. I can't wait to get back there and go further."

After the season, Slavik doesn't know what to expect. He'll be eligible for the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, but says he has no idea what will happen there. Sooner or later, though, he wants to play professional baseball.

"I'd obviously like to play at the next level, but I don't have too much control over when or where that will be," Slavik said. "I enjoy college, but I could leave if I get a really good offer. I don't know too much about the process."

If Slavik does come back to Wake Forest, you can expect to find him next spring right back at third base where he belongs.



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