The Bulldogs welcome back one of their top relievers in Mike Mancuso.
Feb. 4, 2014
Mike Mancuso, a 6-6, 247-pound relief pitcher from Brecksville, Ohio is gearing up for his third year with the Bulldogs. Mancuso was redshirted in 2012 and then made 17 appearances in relief for Georgia during the 2013 campaign. Mancuso posted a 1-1 record and a 3.14 ERA in 28.2 innings. Mancuso also played a large part in Georgia's 2013 series victory over rival Georgia Tech, as he appeared in all three games and pitched a combined 4.2 scoreless innings. Nick Daly of Georgia Sports Communications caught up with Mancuso to discuss the upcoming season.
Being from Ohio, how well do you know Coach Scott Stricklin?
"We joke with each other every day that it's a love-hate relationship. I know Coach Stricklin really well. He recruited me out of high school, and he's an awesome coach. I told him that I was going to go to the University of Georgia and he understood, but I guess it all worked out in the end with him now coaching here."
How are you embracing this new staff?
"At first, everyone was texting me asking what Coach Stricklin was like because they knew I already knew him. Everyone was really excited [when we met the new staff]. We bought in right away the first time Coach Stricklin talked to us. I felt like everyone had bought in, and we were ready to start the new chapter in Georgia Baseball."
How has pitching coach Fred Corral helped you improve on the mound?
"Coach Corral also recruited me out of high school so I already knew him. The biggest thing that Coach Corral has helped me with is the mental game. He's helped the whole pitching staff with the mental aspect of the game. He's taught us something that none of us had really heard of with pitching the front and back of the plate and varying speeds with your pitches. The hitters will tell you it's definitely tough to hit, and it was a great thing for us to put into our pitching repertoire."
What did you really try to focus on improving during the offseason?
"I got in a lot better shape running; I worked on my fastball and curveball a lot and those are two pitches that are going to help me a lot this year."
How did the strength and conditioning staff help you get in better shape for this year?
"Honestly, I came in here this summer in a lot better shape than I was at the beginning of last season. Then just from the time I got here working with Coach [Ryan] Gearheart to where I am right now, my body has transformed tremendously. He got me on the right diet, and he's had me doing a little more cardio, and it's paid off."
What are you most looking forward to about the 2014 season?
"The team chemistry we have this year, we kind of missed that during the season last year, but everyone gets along well, and we play together well. I'm looking forward to working with this new coaching staff and seeing where they take us. We're all mentally prepared and mentally stronger. I think it's going to be a good year."
How about any goals for the upcoming season?
"My personal goal is to just go out there and throw strikes and do whatever I can for my team. As a team goal, every time we break as a team we say "SEC Champs." That's the first step that we have to take. Our biggest goal is Omaha [site of the College World Series]."
At this point in your career, what has been your most memorable moment?
"My most memorable moment as a Bulldog was beating Georgia Tech last year in extra innings. It was supposed to be my off day but I got my name called to come in and pitch in extra innings. I came in and got us out of a big jam. They had a guy on third base in the bottom of the 11th and we were up one. Daniel Palka was up, their best hitter, and I ended up throwing him a two-two changeup, and he swung and missed over it. That was the first time that senior class had beaten Tech in a series so that was a big moment for me, not only to get my first win as a college pitcher, but to help the seniors beat Georgia Tech in a series."
Who has had the biggest impact on your baseball career?
"I'd say my brother Tony and my dad. My brother is three years older than me and he used to take me out into the front yard and try and make me better everyday whether it was throwing me ground balls, throwing me pitches I could hit, or even just catching for me. He's always been a big supporter with the mental part of it. Times are going to be tough in baseball, but he was always the first one there to pick me up and tell me times are going to be better and keep pushing me."