Coach Scott Stricklin is looking forward to the 2014 season.
Jan. 7, 2014
ATHENS-----Georgia resumes preseason practice on Jan. 24. Here's the first in a series of interviews with the new coaching staff. First up, head coach Scott Stricklin.
How much practice time will you have before the season begins on Feb. 14?
“We had 27 practices during the fall. We will start preseason practice as a team again on Jan. 24 and that gives us three weeks before our first game. Also, pitchers will start their bullpen sessions again this month.
In the off-season, you get eight hours a week for baseball activities and weights. The field is open, and we’ve got pitching machines so the hitters can get their swings or take ground balls. They are accountable to be ready when we open in February.”
How do you feel about your first recruiting class?
“As far the early signing class from November, we got a great group of high school recruits all from the state of Georgia. It’s an athletic group with depth on the mound and in the field. There are certainly a couple of guys in this class that we’ll have to wait and see what happens with the professional draft in June. If you’re talented enough to play in the SEC as a freshman, then you’re talented enough to get drafted professionally.”
How do you feel about the offensive potential of the 2014 club?
“We are an athletic team that will put pressure on defenses. I feel like we’ll have some power in the middle of the order and also have some guys that can bunt and steal bases at the top and bottom of the order. We have a good mix of young guys and veterans that will be exciting to watch.”
How do you feel about the defensive potential of the 2014 club?
“We are young in some key spots -- shortstop and centerfield, and you will see some very athletic plays but also some growing pains too. Overall, I like our athleticism around the field.”
How do you feel like everyone on staff and the student-athletes has handled the transition?
“Transition is never easy. It’s different for everybody. The way you coach, the way you communicate, it’s good to be patient and open-minded. We wanted to set the standard of doing things in the fall, and it went well. We are looking for consistency and discipline. We challenged them. They competed well in the fall. We stressed taking care of the little things because they add up to big things.”
What do you anticipate the 2014 rotation will look like?
“We’ve got a good problem with our rotation in that we’ve got a lot of candidates. You look at last year’s rotation in Sean McLaughlin, Patrick Boling and Jared Walsh, and then there’s Luke Crumley, Ryan Lawlor and Robert Tyler. All six had a great fall and are candidates for the rotation.
We have depth on the mound. Fred Corral did a great job with all our pitchers. They made progress, were very competitive, and I’m excited about our pitching staff.”
What about the closer?
“As of right now, we will handle that by committee. Dylan Cole pitched some big innings for us last year, and we’ve got Jarrett Brown who has the potential to be a shutdown lefty. Jared Cheek is a junior college transfer that had a great fall and could also fit that role. It may come down to more about matchups each game rather than having one closer.”
What newcomers will make an impact in 2014?
“One of the first things we did when we arrived in Athens was go visit the incoming players that had already signed with Georgia. We met with them and their families and talked about coming to UGA as opposed to signing a pro contract. Ultimately, most of that recruiting class decided to come to UGA.
Stephen Wrenn is an exciting player, most likely a leadoff guy and our centerfielder this year; Mike Bell is going to be our every day shortstop; and I’ve already mentioned a few pitchers in Lawlor, Cheek and Tyler. All of these players have a chance to be impact guys in the SEC.”
You have conducted several opportunities for former lettermen to get involved, how has that been received?
“We’ve had a tremendous response from former lettermen. They helped build the tradition of Georgia Baseball, and we want them to continue to be a part of the program. We had a lot of fun at our golf outing; some guys hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. We did this annually at Kent State, and it was one of my favorite days of the year. We want our lettermen comfortable coming back to Athens and to the University of Georgia.”
The Georgia Bulldog Club played host to a Meet & Greet at Foley Field in the fall, how did that go?
“We had close to 300 people including season ticket holders, former players and fans, and I was pleased with the turnout. We introduced the coaching staff, had dinner on the field, gave them a tour of the stadium and provided an update on the Foley Field Revival project.”
It was great to see just how much excitement there was in the community for baseball, and we’re all looking forward to the season getting started on Feb. 14.”