A week to the day after losing Jeff Niemeier, Kansas' baseball team learned it might get him back.
The senior catcher from Gladstone, Mo., and the team leader in runs batted in, hits and doubles, Niemeier injured his left foot last Wednesday as the Jayhawks prepared for the NCAA Mideast regional in Knoxville, Tenn.
The injury was diagnosed as a broken bone, and Niemeier watched KU win the regional from the dugout.
On Wednesday, Niemeier practiced with the Jayhawks and was told he might play in the College World Series-opening game Friday with Texas A&M.
"I THINK there might be a chance of that," coach Dave Bingham said Wednesday from Omaha. "He may be cleared. We need to look at him in practice (today). We don't want to get anybody's hopes up too high, but there is a possibility he'll play."
Niemeier said he was given medical clearance to play on Wednesday. He ran and threw with the team and was scheduled to hit today.
"I feel pretty good," Niemeier said. "Basically, they told me if I can take it, I can play."
Niemeier said the injury might have been misdiagnosed in Tennessee. Though he started feeling pain during batting practice in Lawrence last Wednesday, it wasn't until KU reached Knoxville that Niemeier was examined.
"The explanation that I got was that it might have been an old injury, maybe my tendons and ligaments got irritated," Niemeier said. "The Tennessee doctor just panicked. It wasn't the break that was causing the pain."
NIEMEIER STARTED 55 of KU's first 56 games at catcher. He hit .378 with 22 doubles, nine home runs and 62 RBIs.
"Jeff Niemeier is everything to this team," Bingham said. "To take that away was really tough for us. I'm sure you understand basketball. It would be like, if you have Adonis Jordan and Rex Walters out, that's what it's like for us."
Niemeier said that his performance in practice today might determine whether he'll play on Friday.
"I'm still going to see how I am in practice," he said. "But I've been like a kid on Christmas morning. It feels real good. And I think the rest of the team likes it. It's not that they'll have a better chance, but I think they're just happy for me."
KU, the Series' No. 8 seed, will open at 3:06 p.m. Friday against top-seeded Texas A&M.