Handsome Monica could contribute for Arizona baseball

Arizona baseball catcher Handsome Monica is among a group of newcomers who should have an impact this season

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Emily Gauci | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona baseball catcher Handsome Monica (12) catches during practice at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday. Monica is among several newcomers who could contribute to the Wildcats this season.

If his name would have been called in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, chances are that he would not be a part of the Arizona baseball program. The odds, however, were in Arizona’s favor when catcher Handsome Monica became one of the program’s newest additions.

Monica is one of the 17 players in the nationally ranked class that Arizona signed in November of 2013. Monica has been through a handful of coaches after participating in events like the 2013 East Coast Showcase and being a part of the Nationals’ Area Code team at the 2013 Area Code games.

There are some things that make Arizona coach Andy Lopez stand out in Monica’s eyes. 

“[Lopez] is going to treat everyone the same and make you learn how to get better,” Monica said. “I know that with him, in order to find playing time, I need to learn how to push myself.”

There’s something else. Lopez doesn’t call Monica by first name or his last name because “Monica” is a woman’s name. To Lopez, Monica is “Kiki.”

Finding a new nickname was easy for Lopez, and now Monica said he hopes Lopez finds playing time for him. 

Arizona opens its season on Friday, and players like Monica are still trying to earn playing time. His teammates said they believe he can contribute no matter where he ends up in the lineup, although Monica is not sure where that will be. 

“He’s going to find a way to contribute whatever way he can,” Arizona senior catcher Riley Moore said. “He’s not an issue on or off the field, and I think he’s a good guy for our team.”

Monica said it has been a different adjustment, on and off the field, coming from high school to the college environment. On the field, however, there are players like Moore who have mentored him throughout the experience. 

“Riley has been there for me,” Monica said. “He has showed me the ropes and he has been very supportive. I’m very thankful for that.” 

The Louisiana native has had to make adjustments during his time in Arizona. Monica said that although he gets homesick at times, things like school work and baseball keep him on track. 

“It was a little challenging at first, coming in as a freshman in the fall and everything on my plate, but I got used to it,” Monica said. 

Although he said he has gotten used to it and actually likes Tucson, one semester at Arizona has not been enough for him to forget about Louisiana.

“I love Louisiana,” Monica said. “I can honestly see myself back there just because I love it so much.”

Monica learned time management and the act of hard work as soon as he became a part of Arizona baseball.

“I haven’t really been pushed that much throughout my life while I was growing up,” Monica said. “When I got here, I learned quick that I was going to have to learn how to grow up and do things right.”

As a catcher, the pitchers for Arizona have gotten to know Monica as a teammate and have been pleased with his job so far.

“He has a good work ethic and he won’t back down from anyone, and that’s a good sign,” Arizona pitcher Nathan Bannister said. 

Monica expects himself to help the team no matter what his role is and wants to help Arizona have a better season. 

“My drive is going to help,” Monica said. “I’m going to go out there and help my team win.”

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Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela on Twitter.


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