MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Ellis Garcia has been learning on the job this spring.

In his first season with the West Virginia baseball team, the freshman infielder had started 31 games entering this weekend’s series at Baylor. Twenty-two of those starts came at third base. But then, JJ Wetherholt injured his left thumb, opening up a spot on the right side of the infield.

Garcia, rated as one of the top high school shortstops in New Jersey last year, slid over to the other side of the diamond, despite never having played second base before. He held things things down at the position for the past two weeks.

“I’m trying to do the best I [can],” Garcia said following his three-run home run in a victory over TCU on April 22. “I know JJ’s one of the best players in the country, without a doubt. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that’s what I’m here to do.”

Despite playing on the opposite side of the second base bag than he’s accustomed to, Garcia has been reliable with his glove. He made just two errors over the past eight games, entering play on April 29.

The first-year Mountaineer infielder leaned on Wetherholt for knowledge and guidance in playing the position as the midseason All-American healed and acted as the WVU designated hitter.

“He’s been guiding me since the fall. I got some innings in the fall when a few guys were out,” said Garcia. “Every day, he talks to me about my at-bats, fielding, all of that. So, he’s been a huge help along the way.”

Assisting Garcia was a priority for Wetherholt. A good teammate, he knew imparting his wisdom to Garcia would help the team continue to succeed, which it has. It also was a way for Wetherholt to stay locked in while he waited to return to action, and also while he waited to return to the position he started 34 games at before his injury.

“It definitely keeps me in the game. It gives me an extra reason to root for us even harder. I got to watch out, that my spot,” Wetherholt joked on April 23. ” I want him to do as well as possible. It definitely does keep me locked in, just watching out for the guys.”

Being himself has been the biggest piece of advice that Wetherholt has given Garcia. Playing loose, even during his first experiences of playing in the Big 12 — especially on the road — has been another lesson bestowed on the New Jersey native.

Garcia collected at least one hit in all but two of the games he started at second base. One of those hits was a go-ahead three-run home run against TCU that proved to be the game-winning hit. It was just the third homer of his young college baseball career.

He noted how the movements and responsibilities are different, essentially the opposite, at second base compared to what he knows on the left side of the infield. Garcia said he knew going into this year he may be called on to play multiple positions. It’s a challenge he is prepared for.

“Where ever they need me, I’ll be there,” he said.

Wetherholt returned to second base on Saturday, April 29, for No. 18 West Virginia’s contest against Baylor. Garcia returned to third base.