Can you talk about your plate discipline leading the team in walks?
“That is kind of my job -- to get deep in the count especially early in the game. I am seeing the ball really well right now. Usually not swinging at bad pitches and, when I get good pitches to hit, swinging at them. But I think that is my role as a lead off hitter and I want to do that to the best of my ability. Patience is definitely one of those qualities you need in a lead off hitter.”
With two new outfielders flanking you in left and right this year, does that put you in a leadership role out there?
“We have two guys out there that have not been everyday starters. We have a freshman [Michael Russell in right] and Parks [Jordan in left] with his first year out there every day. They are doing a great job, I just try to take my experience out there from the past two years. With two outs we don’t want any doubles and play deep. They are great outfielders. I have two really good outfielders they don’t need much help but I am always there to help them if they need it -- especially in big situations when you get caught up in the game and you don’t think about what you need to do on the next pitch or if it is hit to you what you need to do. So just there to help them in the big situations and make sure they are still thinking about things they need to do.”
Coach Fox talks about baseball being a game of failure - can you discuss your perspective on the mental part of the game?
“We have six losses. Some of those have been pretty close and some days we have not come out and played. The good thing about our team is that we let things go quickly. We don’t think about it for a long time. If we have a bad game or a bad outing we go out there and play even harder the next two games. Like you saw against State and Wake Forest, we lost the two Friday night games and we are at home and we are like, 'Golly we have [Kent] Emanuel out there Friday night.’ We lost two Friday night games two weekends in a row then fought back both series to win the next two. That is our best trait. We forget things quickly.”
Coach Fox has discussed the difficulty of selecting the 27-man travel roster. How does it effect the morale of the team to leave players behind in Chapel Hill?
“That is a hard thing to do. Especially as competitive that everyone is on this team. They want to go and root on their team even if they are not playing. We have a great bench that stays behind us all game. When we have to leave some of those guys behind as a leader I try to pick them up a little bit, ‘It’s alright, you will make it next time. Keep working hard and we are going to need you down the stretch...’ and things like that. But it is definitely hard to leave those kind of guys behind because you know that they want to go as bad as everyone else.”
You had the opportunity to play as a freshman in Coral Gables - can you discuss the environment there as a visiting player and the toughest place to play in the ACC?
“Coral Gables is a pretty wild environment. Especially if it is a close game. I think the weather there is a factor because of the humidity and then sometimes you will have some rain, off and on. I remember there as a freshman we still played the game and it was absolutely pouring and it was in a big situation. But I think that Florida State is probably one of the toughest places to play in the nation - not just the ACC. That environment last year was a huge experience. I have not seen anything like that. It was a lot of fun.”
Can you discuss Tom Zengel’s improvement in his sophomore campaign with a confident approach at the plate after having limited duty as a freshman?
“I think the swing has always been there for Zengel. He has a great swing. Great stroke and power. He has good power gap to gap and as a sophomore he has gotten past the freshman growing pains. He is doing a great job at being more confident and thinking more in the box like 'what is this guy going to throw me' or getting his hands in to the fastball. I know he has had trouble with fastballs in but he has been doing a great job helping out our team a lot from the DH position.”
What's your perspective on the Diamond Heels participating in the BaseBald for the Cure on April 19th again and teams around the ACC are participating with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation...
“It is a great thing that most of the ACC teams are joining in. That is an accomplishment for Chase Jones and his program. It is pretty awesome to be part of it and I want to give all the credit to Chase Jones and the foundation. We are just glad to be a part of it and that it originated here.”
... Which of your teammates are least looking forward to losing their hair?
“[Laughs] I would have to say Tate Parrish. Tate is a big guy about his hair. He has to gel up his hair and keep it looking right and looking in the mirror. I’d have to say Tate and [Luis] Paula don’t want to do it. He likes his hair too.”
As the Major League teams get started up, what is it like to see players you played with at North Carolina getting their professional opportunities this spring?
“It is great to see but we also can learn from those guys. They all came through here and when they were here we were great friends and we talk -- what to do, what not to do and not to worry about things. It is just a credit to our program - five out of six years going back to Omaha. We have had some great players here and we are all honored to play here.”