March 28, 2003

Corona Celebrates Return to Aztecs With Two Home Runs

By John Philip Wyllie

The San Diego State Aztecs feasted on some suspect Air Force pitching last weekend to improve their record to 12-16. The Aztecs routed the Falcons in a three-game home stand 10-3, 18-4 and 19-2. The series marked the return of Aztec slugger Chad Corona. Corona, a local product out of Santa Fe Christian, smacked home runs on Saturday and Sunday demonstrating that he is rounding into shape following injuries that had sidelined him for most of the last month.

“It’s been an on and off season for me so far with the appendicitis and then the hip flexor that I injured three weeks ago,” Corona said. “In long games like the one today, there is some fatigue and wear and tear from standing, but I am about 95% healthy.”

With Mountain West conference competition now heating up, Aztec coach Tony Gwynn is pleased to have Corona back in the lineup.

“It’s nice to have him back in the lineup. I know his hip is still bothering him, but he wants to play,” Gwynn said. “Now what he needs is confidence and having two good games in a row will feed that confidence. (With an improved offense this season) I don’t need him to carry the club, I just need him to be Chad Corona.”

A year ago, Corona led the Aztecs in home runs with 9 and shined defensively at third base. Despite missing eleven games this season, Corona has launched three so far this season including a 420’ rocket over the center field wall on Saturday.

Corona batted in the eighth-slot this weekend after spending most of last year batting cleanup or fifth.

“We’ve got guys (batting) one through nine that are pretty much swinging it, so I have no problem batting eighth or ninth as long as I am in the lineup,” Corona said. Now that he is finally healthy, Corona will likely become a steady fixture for the Aztecs. In time, he will probably also regain his original spot in the batting order.

Teammates James Guerrero and Curt Mendoza frequently join Corona in the starting lineup. Together they form the team’s Hispanic contingent along with pitchers Mark Esparza and Travis Esquibel.

“We’ve got a little more (Latin) flavor on the team this year and that’s great,” said Corona, but there are no cliques on this team. We are all the same and we all play for SDSU.”

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