From shagging fly balls to chasing down ball carriers, Alabama redshirt sophomore Keith Holcombe is living the athlete’s version of a double life. But Holcombe is putting away the glove – and his starting left fielder job – for now to pursue a starting linebacker job with the Crimson Tide.
Holcombe is planning to skip the baseball team’s upcoming road trips over the next two weeks to participate with the football team during spring practice, according to AL.com’s Michael Casagrande.
Holcombe originally joined Alabama on a football scholarship, but joined the baseball team before the 2016 season began. Baseball coach Mitch Gaspard knew he would lose his starting left fielder for a portion of the season.
“We knew that from the get go, these are those three weeks that… Keith is competing to be the (middle) linebacker,” Gaspard told Casagrande. “I think, both sides want to keep him in the best position to have success on both sides. For him to really compete on that side right now, he’s got to put his time in.”
Coach Nick Saban acknowledged that juggling two sports plus school might be a difficult task, but added that he will try to get Holcombe up to speed on anything he misses on the gridiron.
“We want him to play,” Saban told Casagrande. “It makes it more difficult for him to balance what he needs to do in football and he has a chance to be a great contributor next year on the football team. By not being there in the spring and doing some of the things in the role that he fits into, it could affect his development to some degree. But whatever he misses, we’ll make every effort to make up so that he gets those reps and can get where he needs to be.”
Holcombe’s final game for the time being with the baseball team was Tuesday night in a pinch hitting appearance.
#18 Keith Holcombe in to pinch-hit for Georgie Salem. One down in the top of the sixth #RollTide
— Alabama Baseball (@AlabamaBSB) March 30, 2016
The good news is Holcombe will be back as a full-time baseball player in a few weeks after the football team wraps up spring ball with its spring game on April 16.