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Flu Bug Taking a Big Bite Out of CSUN Fall Workouts

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A flu epidemic spreading through the Cal State Northridge baseball team has put a crimp in the fall practice season. Pitchers Keven Kempton and Aaron D’Aoust, third baseman Tyler Nelson and second baseman Keyaan Cook have missed several practices since the fall season began Monday.

Exacerbating the situation is the absence of Andy Shaw, the power-hitting recruit who learned Friday that he will be sidelined three months with a torn tendon in his left knee.

“It’s bad timing when you only have three weeks of practice,” Coach Bill Kernen said.

Still, Kernen would like to have a full squad learning drills and fundamentals at the same time.

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Kempton’s temperature soared to 105 degrees Tuesday, and Cook became ill Wednesday.

Among the healthy players, newcomers Eric Gillespie, Chad Thornhill and Kevin Howard have been impressive.

“He can really hit,” Kernen said of Gillespie, a freshman catcher from Long Beach Millikan High. “He has a long ways to go as a catcher, but he’ll get there because he works hard.”

Thornhill, a shortstop from Fresno City College, has shown excellent range and a strong arm.

Howard, Thornhill’s junior college teammate, showed exceptional power on a home run that cleared the trees in right-center field.

The squad is not as deep as anticipated because of the loss of Eddie Hernandez and Erik Lazerus.

Hernandez, a freshman pitcher from Bishop Amat High, left school after two days because of homesickness, family financial difficulties and competition on the team.

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Lazerus, who was expected to start at second base or back up at shortstop, transferred to Mission College.

Of the returnees, first baseman Jason Shanahan has shown substantial hitting improvement and center fielder Joey Arnold has gained from a summer in the weight room.

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