Auburn Baseball Preseason Press Conference Quotes

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Head Coach John Pawlowski
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Head Coach John Pawlowski
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Feb. 10, 2010

AUBURN, Ala. - Head Coach John Pawlowski
Opening statement...
"I appreciate everybody being here. We know it's time for college baseball when you can look outside and the temperature drops with the possibility of some snow on Friday. We are certainly excited about the upcoming 2010 season. These guys have worked extremely hard. I like the way our team has gone about their work ethic. It's a little different feeling around the clubhouse this year in a sense that the guys are over the process of a new coach and a new system. They understand what our expectations are. We have a lot of leaders who are back, offensively, from our team last year, which I think is going to be a huge asset to our team. Overall, I'm encouraged by the progress we've made. On a pitching staff, I think we have more options which is something that we needed to improve upon. We're anxious and excited. The expectations are the same as they were last year. We have high expectations and we hold ourselves in high esteem in the clubhouse, on the field, and in the classroom. We're excited. February 19, in my mind, can't get here soon enough. These guys are anxious and ready to play."

On the pitching staff...
"When you look at our staff last year, one of the things that we felt we needed to do was that we didn't have enough options on the pitching staff. The guys worked extremely hard last year, but in this league, you have to have depth and enough arms because it is such an offensive game. I am really encouraged by Jon Luke Jacobs and Grant Dayton. Those guys have done a great job and they will have their opportunities, right out of the gate, to start. You are also looking at a guy like Austin Hubbard returning, a guy who led the league in saves last year. Bradley Hendrix led our team in wins. So you have some returning guys there. Then you look at some of the new guys like Stephen Kohlscheen, who has continued to get better and has a tremendous fastball. Cole Nelson, a 6'7 left-hander, I think will have a chance to start early in the season. I feel like we have more options and I think that was one of our goals."

 

 

On who will be the third starter...
"Right now, it's going to be Cole Nelson. I feel like Cole has done a good job for us. He's a guy who is intimidating out there as a big, strong left-hander. When you put the lights on and you start playing, we need to find out who can handle the competition in this league and I think that he certainly merits the opportunity and the chance on Sundays."

On the status of Cory Luckie...
"Cory is doing great. I'm really encouraged. It's always hard when you have injuries and guys have to sit out. Cory is doing a great job. His arm has come back. He's going to throw probably four innings on Saturday. I would imagine that the first two weekends when we don't have any mid-week games, he'll probably come out of the bullpen with the possibility of trying to get him back into a rotation at some point. Two positives are Cory Luckie coming back and Ryan Jenkins also. Ryan had a tough situation last year right before the season. So, we are encouraged by both of those guys."

On Trent Mummey's situation...
"It's a tough situation. We had a scrimmage last Saturday and Trent went for a ball. It was one of those unfortunate things where his foot got caught up underneath him. It looks like he could be out. I don't know, we are hearing anywhere from four to six weeks for the first part of the season. Trent keeps telling me that he wants to be back as soon as possible, obviously. That's a disappointment. Anytime that somebody gets hurt, it's a disappointment for a coach. You hate it for them and you hate it for the program, but it's part of it. Every kid comes to practice, puts the uniform on, and practices hard and prepares to play. When their opportunity comes, they have to take advantage of it. The guy that we are going to put out there in center field will be Justin Fradejas. Justin is a junior-college player who is our best runner. He can certainly run. He has to learn his game and continue to develop it, but we will put him out there in center field and he is certainly capable of handling that job out there."

On who will play at third base and right field...
"When we look at third base, we have two guys fighting it out - Wes Gilmer and Dan Gamache. Both those guys and Creede Simpson is another guy who is in the mix. Dan has really done a good job defensively and has come up with some big hits for us. Dan is probably in the lead at third base. In right field, you are looking at Creede Simpson from Auburn High School. In high school, I believe that Creede played shortstop and can play third base. He's very athletic, but he'll probably start for us in right field."

On hitting home runs as well as striking out a lot last year...
"I really think we're trying to get our offense to be mature and have professional at-bats. What that means is understanding how we're going to score runs and what that approach is. Link Jarrett has done a great job and these guys have more of a better understanding now, obviously with the second year of being in this program for me, and these guys in their third year and their third go-around now, they've faced the best in Team USA and the Cape Cod League and the best in the SEC. These guys know it's a great challenge that lies ahead, but that's one area that we've really tried to address in cutting down on those strikeouts. I do believe that those guys now understand the importance of it."

On catchers Ryan Jenkins and Tony Caldwell...
"Right now, I think we're going to give Ryan Jenkins an opportunity. We'll probably split them some on the weekend. If they have a left-handed pitcher going, whoever catches, we might DH the other one. I think until the dust settles, we'll probably split both of them. Tony did a great job for us last year filling in. We're very fortunate that we've got two quality, experienced catchers that'll be behind the plate this year."

On who has been hitting the best throughout the preseason...
"Hunter (Morris) has done a really good job. Brian Fletcher has done a great job. I think he has brought more mature at-bats, too. I look at some of the new guys, too, who have contributed. I think Creede Simpson has done a really good job offensively for us, and I think he's going to be right in the thick of things. A guy like Justin Hargett has found his niche and found a way to get on base and the short game and everything. I think those guys in particular, but I like our approach right now. Like Hunter said, this is an opportunity for these guys to step up. We know and we talk about it; we haven't been to the (SEC) Tournament. We want to change that and get this program where it needs to be. This is a big year for these guys, obviously, and a big year for our program."

Hunter Morris


Hunter Morris, IF
On hitting home runs as well as striking out a lot last year...
"Coach (Link) Jarrett has come in and done a great job. Coach (Matt) Heath was great last year and really transformed a lot of guys' swings. This year, we've kind of gone into it with a little more mature approach. We try to be very professional about the way we go about our work as an offense. It's not all about just putting up two, three, four run innings, and trying to compile those all the time by hitting home runs. It's about getting guys on base, bunting guys over, hitting line drives and trying to really boost that on-base percentage, which is going to be really important in the long run."

How much weight have you lost and how has that affected your game?
"From last season, I probably dropped about 30 lbs. and then started building it back up the right way through muscle training, trying to get stronger. My athleticism has gone from where it was last year just through the roof. Probably the biggest downfall for me was defensively. My footwork was slower. I was able to make some plays, but not nearly the range, the quickness, and the smoothness around the bag that I should have had. That's been huge for me. It's not all about losing weight. It's the agility, the speed. I've taken probably four tenths of a second off of my 60 (yard dash). Overall, it's done everything to transform my game and get me to where I need to be."

How is your back feeling and how have you been hitting the ball?
"My back feels great. I think that had a lot to do with it. Carrying around an extra 30 lbs. is never easy on any joints or muscles or anything like that. My swing feels great. I've really developed the ability to use the whole field. I'm excited about it. I'm ready to get started and face somebody else besides these guys for a change and see if that carries over. I'm excited for me and for our entire team. Our lineup is going to be exciting to watch."

At what point last year did you realize slimming down would really help your game?
"I knew it would since I've been here. It finally clicked with me after I had the back problems last year. Not only for me as I look to make baseball a career for a long time, personal health is obviously important; but for me to be able to contribute to this team how I'd like to, it was really, really important. I saw no other choice but to do that."

On an improved pitching staff...
"The guys who were here last year, like Coach (Pawlowski) already said, they did a great job. They competed, they worked very, very hard, and we did the most with what we had. The biggest thing that I can see is the depth in the bullpen. You're going to run three starters out there every weekend, and have a couple of mid-week starters. The ability to not have to leave a starter out on the weekends longer than he needs to be there has been a big problem for the two years that I've been here. You try to drag a guy out who's getting touched up a little bit, and you're in a tough spot. With the depth in the bullpen, you could run guys out there for two or three innings at a time, and your pitching never gets tired, and you're going to compete and give the offense a chance to win ballgames."

On coming to Auburn with high expectations and trying to make it to the SEC Tournament this year...
"It's huge for this university and for this baseball program. The people at Auburn deserve a lot more than what we've given them. I think there were 13 guys in my signing class or something like that, and it was one of the top signing classes in the country. Obviously, there was a lot of talent and a lot of high expectations, not only from us, but from people outside of the program. For a lot of us, this might be the last opportunity we have to do it. You look at the guys like Austin Hubbard, Michael Hurst, and Ryan Jenkins, who's been here for five years; this is their absolute last chance. And even for some of us who may have an opportunity to go into the draft this year, this is the last chance for us to play together. We've got such good chemistry, and not only do we want to do it for Auburn University and we want to do it for this program, we want to do it for us as a family."

Stephen Kohlscheen


Stephen Kohlscheen, RHP
On adjusting to playing in the SEC...
"Well, this (press conference) wouldn't happen in junior college. I enjoy it, I enjoy people coming out and watching practice. It's always fun when you're playing catch and you've got someone out there watching you practice. That tells you it means a lot to people and the community. Obviously, I haven't been in an SEC game yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to playing in front of a lot people. Our lineup this year is very good. It's always nice to play behind a lineup that's going to put some runs up on the board for you and take some pressure off of you as a pitcher. Our pitching staff looks good this year, too."