It's an exciting time for our coaches and our players. They've worked extremely hard since August to get ready for Opening Day. This is the first time as a group that we'll get together since the fall to begin our quest to have a successful season. Our kids have worked extremely hard, they've done an incredible amount of work in the weight room and they did extremely well in the classroom during the fall semester. It's a tight knit group, a group that we're excited about coaching and a group that's excited about playing together. I think they enjoy one another and right now sitting up here as coach I'm awfully excited about getting the season started.
On how he feels entering his second season as head coach
I'm getting a little bit more sleep at this time of year than I was last year and my heart is racing at a little bit of a slower pace than it was last year. With that being said, we have some huge challenges in front of us. I think we have some good players, we have some experienced players and we have some guys that have played in the College World Series and played for a national championship. They're excited about, as a group, trying to get back out there. This program has been and will always be about our players, I'm lucky enough to share a dugout with them and be their coach. We have a great coaching staff and as coaches sure we're excited but I can guarantee our excitement doesn't exceed our players. They've been working extremely hard, they've put in a lot of time and effort and they're anxious to get this season underway.
On Joey Pankake
Joey [Pankake] has been throwing since we've come back from semester break full speed across the infield with no pain. We're going to continue to be extremely careful with Joey and keep getting him to, if we played today, he's our third baseman. He'll be in the staring lineup and play third. He's gotten a lot better, a lot more comfortable over there [at third base] and Brian Buscher has done an incredible job with him. He fits the mold of what an outstanding third baseman should be. He's a power hitter, a big, strong and physical kid and very versatile and athletic. We think Joey will have a great year over at third but he's also versatile enough to play the outfield and he'll work the outfield from time to time. We'll always keep him sharp in both spots because we do have a number of infielders that can play all over the place. It will make our team a little more versatile if Joey can go into the outfield.
On who will play shortstop
We're excited about our guys there [at shortstop]. Marcus Mooney is a lot like his brother. I know he doesn't like me saying that but he's a terrific defensive player. He plays with some energy and with some bounce. DC Arendas is another polished defender who led our team in hitting this fall. Jordan Gore has been a pleasant surprise for us; he's farther advanced defensively than I thought he would be at this time. He played much better than I anticipated during his freshman fall season, to a point where I'm working Jordan in at left field as well to get him some at bats. Jordan has a great leadoff approach especially from the left side. He's a switch hitter and he's going to get his fair share of at bats. I like the way he plays. He's got some energy, enthusiasm and a toughness about him. I feel comfortable with all three of these guys and they're going to be battling it out. It will be the week of Opening Day before I make a decision. I'm not in rush to do anything, those kids deserve every opportunity to win the position and I'm certainly going to give it to them. I'm going to tell them after I do make a decision, it's not necessarily important who starts the first 10 games at shortstop, its important who starts the last 10 games at shortstop so we've got a long way to go in that competition.
On Grayson Greiner
I said it in the fall that I wouldn't trade Grayson Greiner for anybody. He's a terrific player. He knows this program inside and out, he handles our pitching staff, our pitching staff is extremely confident throwing the ball to him and they love throwing to him. He's a hard worker, he tries to catch every bullpen on practice days which we try to encourage him not to and he does everything we ask him to in the weight room. He has the ultimate respect for all of our players, which is why he's one of our captains. With that being said, he's as close or irreplaceable as any player we have. That position is an awfully important position and he's awfully talented. He's the heart and soul of our team in many ways. We're going to need to keep Grayson Greiner healthy and I'm going to try my best to help in that doing.