Allen prepares for emotional final season at Packard StadiumPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Trever Allen patrols right field at Packard Stadium, where he has started 95 games the last two seasons. With his vantage point, the Tempe native can see just about everything in the vicinity, from the soaring Sun Devil Stadium in the background to the opponent’s relief pitchers spitting seeds in the bullpen. Among the things he cannot see as he fields his position are five signs that adorn the chain-link fence boundary of Packard. However, he feels their presence, as do all ball players upon stepping onto Bobby Winkles Field, Sun Devil or not.
The signs in right field honor the five national championships that Arizona State has won since the dawn of the powerhouse program in 1959. Each championship year (1965, 1967, 1969, 1977, and 1981) is listed vertically in gold inside a maroon “1” with added gold trim. Allen does not need to see these signs, however. While his jog out to right field puts them directly in his view, he only needs to think about adding a sixth “1” in Packard’s last year.
“I think that would be the perfect cap to an ending of amazing stadium,” said Allen. “That's the end result that we all want."
Allen was a top five hitter for Arizona State last season, and a very versatile one at that. In 58 starts, he batted .297 (fifth on the team), logging 65 hits (third) and a .369 on-base percentage (tied-4th). Allen lead the team with nine home runs and 49 runs batted in and also tied for second with seven stolen bases.
Allen, currently a redshirt junior, was eligible for the 2013 MLB Draft but was shockingly not selected. That meant he had a lot of down time over the summer.
"It's been fun, honestly,” said Allen about his offseason. “I didn't play summer ball, so I was resting. I didn't know if I even had a scholarship coming back after the draft.”
Rest sounds relaxing, but college athletes do not get as much of it as the rest of us. When Allen was not resting, he was working on fine-tuning all aspects of his game.
“Defensively, I was horrible last year,” said Allen. “I had some ups and downs, but…I got a lot better.”
Allen already boasts an arm that puts him in the company of Yasiel Puig and Jameis Winston, leading all Sun Devil outfielders in assists with 10. But on the flip side of that coin, he ranked fourth on the team in errors last season with seven.
Allen’s abilities in the batter’s box made him an offensive catalyst last season, but he was not too happy about his hitting performance.
“I hit pretty well last year and put up some pretty good numbers, but I'm looking for a lot more this year,” admitted Allen. One area he wants to improve upon is his numbers against Pac-12 opponents.
Take a look at the differences between Allen’s overall stats and his Pac-12 stats last year:
The differences look slight, but do not forget to take into account that the Sun Devils played 30 games, or half of their schedule, against the rest of the Pac-12. In those games, Arizona State went 16-14, and Allen homered just twice and saw his slugging percentage drop 53 points from its season value. Allen’s bat will surely find a place in the heart of the order this season; combine that with his experience in-conference and it should be enough to increase both his numbers and the team’s Pac-12 record.
Perhaps Allen’s greatest task this season is keeping the team focused and preventing any Packard-related emotions from overcoming him or his teammates. So far, he relishes his role as a respected leader of the team.
"I've embraced it. It's been a lot of fun,” said Allen, all smiles. “We have a good group of guys, and it's definitely a lot easier than I thought it would be."
But the task is going to be tougher than it seems.
“Just knowing what the guys have done before us…adds a lot more emotions going into every single game that you play here because it's the last time you're going to play so-and-so's team here.”
Furthermore, Allen’s roots are planted deep within the Arizona State program, as his father, Jamie, won two national championships with the Sun Devils in 1977 and 1979.
"For him, it's weird because he played here a while ago and saw so many great players run through here,” said Allen about his father’s sentiments toward Packard.
Allen and the rest of the Sun Devils will don baseball hats with a special “Tip Your Cap To Packard” commemorative logo this year. The logo will also be plastered behind both base paths and on the 30-foot-high batter’s eye in center field.
The school’s press release mentioned what fans should expect at home games this year, stating that, “Every era of Sun Devil baseball will be honored, long-time season ticket holders will be recognized, and former players and moments will be remembered.”
Those fans looking to purchase “Tip Your Cap to Packard” merchandise can do so at Sparky’s Stadium Shop inside the Carson Student-Athlete Center or at the Packard Stadium team shop on gamedays.
See Allen and the new logo in action when the Sun Devils begin the season on Friday, Feb. 14 against Baylor at Packard Stadium.