Oct. 28, 2013
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
We had a good fall. I don't know if we answered all the questions that we wanted to have answered. We saw some really good play from some position players, some of our young pitchers were very impressive and I think some of our older guys improved. Tanner English had a nice fall. He walked 13 times, which is new for him. He tends to be very aggressive at the plate as we all know, so he's learning how to be a little bit more patient. It was good to get [Max] Schrock back in there. He had 25 at-bats after he got hurt and had 13 hits in those 25 at-bats, so it was good to get his feet wet after such a long layoff. We feel good about where we are. We didn't have any real major injuries, which is always a concern in the fall. We kept Grayson Griener healthy. Schrock is healthy. [Joey] Pankake tweaked his elbow, but he's on the mend and seems to be healthy now as well. All in all, it was a good fall. Some of our young pitchers threw the ball well and our older guys did as well. Vince Fiori had a good fall and so did some of our other guys. Some of the questions we wanted to have answered aren't there yet, but we've got a good idea heading into the holiday season where we're going to be when practice resumes in January.
On possible closer and third starter
Those are questions that Coach [Jerry] Meyers and I talk about daily. If you base it off the weekend, Cody Mincey was extremely impressive at the end of the game. He came in with the bases loaded and nobody out and didn't allow a run to cross. He had a swing-and-miss slider and he competed. I think his velocity was up to about 92 mph for the first time all fall, and he's an older guy, you would like to have an older guy at the end of the game. He showed a sense of maturity that we hadn't seen early in the fall. I was worried about Cody a little earlier in the fall from a velocity standpoint, but his last three or four outings have been extremely impressive. As far as the third starter, there's a lot of competition going on there, and that's going to continue to go on. Josh Reagan can make a case that he's been our most consistent pitcher all fall. He threw 20 innings and had a 1.35 ERA and walked one, so he has an idea of how to pitch. Wil Crowe was impressive as well, John Parke was impressive and Taylor Widener yesterday threw the ball very well in his first extended outing. Do I know who they're going to be yet, no. If I had to go on this weekend's performance I would say Cody has a good shot at getting some meaningful outs at the end of the game. We can match you up. We can throw some sidewinders in there, Hunter Privette has been very good for us and we can also throw a lefty in there if a left-handed hitter is coming up. It might be a little bit of a bullpen by committee as we get cranked up and we'll see who kind of takes the bull by the horn. As far as the third starter, we've still got some competition going on there and we probably won't definitely know who that third starter is until Thursday, Feb. 13.
On the possibility of Joey Pankake pitching with his elbow
It's [the elbow injury] has made it less likely. Joey [Pankake] is too important to us from a position player standpoint. I still have to get him comfortable in a position and I don't know yet what I'm going to do with him. He certainly can play third, he's show he can play left and he played shortstop for two years so I feel comfortable putting him somewhere but I want to make sure he's comfortable and that we're consistent on where we put him on a day-to-day basis. I think his arm is fine, he'll see the doctor today to start his throwing program and get his arm back into game shape. Barring Joey really begging me to pitch him I don't know if it's going to be worth the risk based on what happened this fall.
On the defensive play of the shortstops and who will contribute to that position
It [the defensive play] did get better. We played great defense over the course of the weekend and we turned a number of double plays. Marcus [Mooney] can really handle the ball, DC [Arendas] made some nice plays. DC was close to leading our team in hitting for the fall. He hit .330 with 70 at-bats, so he put the ball in play. Jordan Gore has really played his rear end off, he's show polish, he's made all the plays, he's on base all the time and he's swung the bat well. What I have to figure out is if I'm going to move one of those middle infielders and play them at third base to get more sure-handed guys on the infield. I can still play Elliot Caldwell and Joey Pankake at the corner outfield spots. I think what I'm going to tell our middle infielders is be prepared to play all three spots, meaning second, short and third. I want them to be very comfortable at all three. Marcus played a great second base and I brought him hear to play shortstop. DC can play shortstop, he can play second and third as well and Max [Schrock] can play shortstop, second and third. I'm going to move them around; I want them to be comfortable in a number of spots. Do I know who our starting shortstop is going to be on opening day? No. I know Schrock will be in there somewhere. Those other guys are still battling and they've all played very well. Jordan [Gore] has played well, Mooney has played terrific, DC made a few more errors that I thought he would make but he swung the bat very well. It's going to be tough decision for me, but we're going to continue to work hard in November and December.
On who might back up Grayson Greiner
One of my biggest worries, and I lost sleep all fall about getting Grayson Greiner hurt. Yesterday I had a mini dog pile by myself in the fifth inning when we got him out of the game and knowing that we had kept him safe because he's an extremely important guy. We're all replaceable but Grayson is close to being irreplaceable for us this year. We have to make sure we keep him healthy and fresh. There is no way there's a better catcher in the country at the college level than Grayson Greiner. Logan [Koch] had flashes in the fall and did very well but he also has a long way to go in some areas. Him and Coach Meyers developed a relationship with each other and he came a long way this fall. He improved, but he has a lot of improving to do. Do I feel comfortable putting him in a game on Tuesday or Wednesday? Yes. Is he ready to catch in the SEC at this time? Maybe not, but he'll be ready come February or March hopefully. Our other catching candidates are a little bit behind Logan, so right now Grayson might be catching every game, well, not every game. We have to keep Grayson fresh, but Logan has some improving to do.