Auburn Baseball Preseason Press Conference Transcript

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Head Coach John Pawlowski
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Head Coach John Pawlowski
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Feb. 13, 2013

Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski

Opening statement...
"Obviously this is an exciting time for us. We are excited to get the 2013 season started. These guys have worked really hard. They have put a lot of time, energy and passion into what they are doing. The last three years we have had the chance to go to the SEC Tournament, but there is more out there for us. There is more out there for this group. They know that. They know our expectations. We are certainly looking forward to the challenge and it starts on Friday at three o'clock."

On trying to steal as many bases this year as the team did last year...
"I think the intent is to use the personnel that we have. I really enjoy the fact that we have athletic guys. We lost two of our top base stealers in Creede Simpson, who is playing baseball professionally, and Jay Gonzalez, who will not be with us this year. I still think we will have some speed, but we will be a different type of team. It becomes more of a responsibility for guys like Ryan (Tella) and some of the freshman to help carry on the tradition of running and stealing. We won't run as much as last year, but hopefully enough to create some runs for us."

On the opening weekend rotation...
"Opening Day is always exciting. They have seen enough of each other. They are tired of each other. It is kind of like Groundhog Day all over. Daniel Koger started 15 games for us last year. I think it was the second most in the SEC (among freshman). He is a guy we are counting on to do great things for us. He continued to get better. Rocky McCord had a great summer. Michael O'Neal is a junior college pitcher that we have high expectations for. I have some other guys in Trey Cochran-Gill, Trey Wingenter and Dillon Ortman that are competing for time also."

 

 

On the situation in right field...
"I think right field is a position that we have a couple of guys battling for. Hunter Kelley is a junior college player. We have Jackson Burgreen and also Sam Gillikin. He is a very highly touted outfield from Hoover, Ala. He can really run. He is one of those speed guys we talk about. I think right now it is anybody's opportunity to keep that job. We are going to give a couple of guys opportunities this weekend. We will probably line up with Sam out there in right field, but they have to earn their keep, and you earn it by performing every day."

On Daniel Koger's improvement...
"The one thing is that he has really committed himself and he has really matured. One of the defining moments that I look at is the SEC Tournament last year. He pitched against Georgia in a big game for us, and watching him go through that game, I think he started to mature. Then you look at the time that he has put in and I think he has made some big adjustments. Like he was saying, the breaking ball and off speed stuff and made him a more of a complete pitcher."

On Will Kendall's health...
"He is really improving. He will be on the 35-man roster. It looks like he will be able to compete in a game if everything continues as planned. It will probably be that first weekend when we play Vanderbilt (March 15-17). He looks to go out there and go out and compete in a game. He had another great bullpen session today. It is that dilemma there where you ask `is he going to help us enough?' and if we have to curtail his innings and watch his innings. He wants to do it. He wants to be out there. He wants to help us. He can be a big help if he stays healthy."

On the SEC Coaches' Poll...
"The thing is I haven't talked to the team about external expectations. That is something that when we get to the SEC season we will talk about. We use that as motivation. The only thing we are focused on is the internal expectations. People can write whatever they want, vote whatever way they want, but when it comes down to it, you have an opportunity to play the game and that is the greatest thing. When it comes time, it will certainly be used as motivation for this club."

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Daniel Koger
On Auburn's pitching rotation...
"I think it is a very powerful pitching group all together. Not just the starters, you listed Rockey (McCord) and (Michael) O'Neal, whoever is pitching on Sunday is going to be out there battling. Our bullpen is absolutely loaded this year. It's as strong as any bullpen as I've ever seen in college, so I think the pitching is going to be a lot better than most people expect. I think people have a question mark on the pitching, but I think it is going to be one of the stronger parts of our team to complement that offense that (Ryan) Tella is leading over there."

On being Auburn's Friday starter...
"It is definitely something that was my goal. Going into the off-season, I wanted to be on the Friday night stage. I wanted to be in that position, and luckily it worked out for me. I think it is a little different role this year than last year. Derek Varnadore was definitely a big help to me last year. I roomed with him, and he kind of guided me around as a freshman, but I think that's kind of a role that I am going to have to play a little bit trying to help people out as much as I can with any kind of experience that I have gotten, so I think I will be able to help a little bit."

On what he thinks he has improved on during the off-season...
"I was throwing a lot of fastballs last year, a majority of fastballs were coming to hitters. I think this year I have gotten more consistent with my secondary and third pitches that I can throw up there. I know my fastball command has gotten a lot better. I can move it up and down, in and out when I want to, and I think the consistency for the change-up and curve ball are going to help me a lot."

On why he did not play last summer...
"I was just resting up working out in the weight room trying to get stronger trying to get better. I really just wanted to give my arm a break and see what I could do in the weight room and try to put on some pounds and stuff. Everything should be good to go."

On this being a more powerful rotation...
"Just the rotation, starting on the weekends, the weekdays, the bullpen, everybody has outstanding out pitches just power arms. This is seriously one of the best pitching staffs I've seen around baseball in a long time."

On if he is afraid the weather will affect his pitching...
"You can get warm. You can run. You can break a sweat. You can do whatever you need to to get ready, so this weather should not affect anything."

Auburn outfielder Ryan Tella
On if Auburn has the capability to lead the SEC in hitting again this year...
"I do think that we do have the capability of doing it again. We return so much of our offense from last year over to this year, and we know the expectations that we need to bring out every weekend especially do well on the weekends, but also compete well on the weekday games. That will help us a lot. I think we will be able to lead the SEC or close to it in batting average."

On Auburn's pitching staff...
"It's different. Every year is a different year going into it, but with Koger, Rocky and Trey (Cochran-Gill) leading the way, they are sophomores, but they are also an older group of guys that can bring experience to the younger guys like Michael O'Neal or Trey Wingenter. They can bring them along, which is huge for us because I'm trying to bring the young outfielders along just like how they are trying to bring the pitching staff along, which I think they have done a pretty good job, and I feel confident throwing any of those guys out here. I'm ready for Koger to be out there Friday because he's worked for it and he's got that command and we are going to put up that `W'."

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