BASEBALL NOTEBOOK: Ka’aua out 4-6 weeks

Hawaii catcher Chayce Ka'aua broke a finger in Hawaii's home opener against New Mexico on Friday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Hawaii catcher Chayce Ka’aua broke a finger in Hawaii’s home opener against New Mexico on Friday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii sophomore catcher Chayce Ka’aua is out 4-6 weeks after breaking the middle finger on his right throwing hand in Friday’s 6-4 loss to New Mexico in the home opener.

Ka’aua started 46 games as a freshman and started this season hitting .429 (3-for-7) with two doubles, two runs, an RBI and a stolen base before he was hurt.

Freshman Kekai Rios will take over the majority of the time behind the plate and fifth-year senior Alan Baldwin will spell him. Baldwin is the starting catcher for Sunday’s Game 3 against the Lobos.

Freshman Kobi Candaroma will make his first start as a Rainbow in right field to take Baldwin’s spot with Alex Fitchett only able to DH because of his injured right shoulder.

The 4-to-6 week timetable for Ka’aua means he could be back in time for Hawaii’s Big West opener at home against UC Irvine on April 1.

>> Rios showed off some power in Friday night’s start, hitting a ball just foul of the left-field poll. The ball landed in the tree across the street and bounced onto the softball field. He also got unlucky just missing extra bases on a line-drive shot that went just foul. Known more for his defense, he struggled at times behind the plate with two passed balls, so despite the skills, it will still be a work in progress early for the freshman.

>> Senior Alex Sawelson has become the odd man out with Fitchett forced to DH because of the shoulder injury. Coach Mike Trapasso had a lot of good things to say after Saturday’s win about Sawelson, who hit the walk-off single to score Marcus Doi with the winning run. “He hasn’t pouted and he stayed ready,” Trapasso said. Once Fitchett is able to get back in the field to play, which could be as early as next week, that will free up Sawelson to DH more often, especially with Baldwin needed at catcher.

>> With next week’s three-game series against San Francisco moved to St. Mary’s, Friday’s game time has changed to 8 a.m. Saturday’s start time is Noon and Sunday is 11 a.m.