NCAA suspends Oregon State pitcher

Oregon State's Ben Wetzler, who was scheduled to start Friday's season opener, has been suspended by the NCAA. Undated photo. (Portland Tribune/Ethan Erickson)
Oregon State's Ben Wetzler, who was scheduled to start Friday's season opener, has been suspended by the NCAA. Undated photo. (Portland Tribune/Ethan Erickson)

(PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Oregon State begins its baseball season today against Gonzaga in a tournament at Tempe, Ariz., without two key players — pitcher Ben Wetzler and catcher Nate Esposito, who are both suspended indefinitely.

Wetzler, a senior left-hander from Clackamas High, is under NCAA investigation for inappropriate use of a financial advisor in dealing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Esposito, a junior expected to battle freshman Logan Ice for the starting catching job this season, is suspended for a violation of team rules.

Philadelphia chose Wetzler — a first-team all-Pac-12 selection as a junior — in the fifth round of the major league draft last June. Wetzler turned down a bonus believed to be about $400,000 to return to Oregon State for his senior season.

Michael Glazier — the attorney who worked on behalf of the University of Oregon in the Willie Lyles football case — has been retained to represent Wetzler, who was 10-1 with a 2.25 ERA a year ago and a key figure on the Beavers’ run to the Pac-12 championship and College World Series.

The NCAA is still in the fact-finding phase of its investigation of Wetzler. One source said Oregon State, which has been working on the case since November, will self-impose a penalty of 10 percent of the season. The NCAA is expected to propose a loss of at least 50 percent of the season.

Wetzler will not be in Oregon State’s rotation this weekend. The Beavers will use sophomore Andrew Moore, junior Jace Frye, senior Scott Schultz and probably freshman Jake Thompson as their starters in the four games.

Moore will start in the season opener against Gonzaga at 3 p.m. PT today.

Ice will start at catcher for OSU, ranked as high as No. 2 in the national polls.

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