Can you discuss what the Fall World Series means to the Diamond Heels?
"It is a great opportunity to honestly just see not only the new guys but the guys who have been there and you can tell who has been working over the summer kind of in more of a game-like situation. A lot of our scrimmages that we have are controlled. So things that normally would not happen, like someone tries to bunt for a hit and gets out, they call them back to hit again. The folks that are new and the ones coming back get to compete in a game-like atmosphere. I like it a lot."
With 15 freshmen joining the squad for the Fall World Series, can you discuss who stands out to you so far after the scrimmages heading into the FWS?
"[Adam] Pate has been real steady. He has been great with his speed in the outfield and on the bases. He will kill you if you let him on base. He's a scrappy player and I like him. Gallen has been good and he throws a lot of strikes. That is always good for a pitcher and he has decent stuff. Rice has been looking pretty good out of the pen. Good lefty option with good life on his fastball. Dudek has got some pop. Chacon if he gets on it has got some pop. He is raw behind the plate so that is good and he's been making good strides there as well. Wood since he has gotten back, he's scrappy as well."
What was your summer activity with the Morehead Scholarship program this year?
"I was in New York in finance with the Yankees. So that was a good opportunity to see baseball from another perspective. The other side, the business side of it. So I'll know what I'm getting into if that is the route that I would choose in professional baseball. It was fun and I loved it because I was still kind of in the game but not playing. I was able to lift four times a week and I put on about 8-10 pounds and got stronger. I feel like I put on some good weight and I was able to recover."
... Did you take the summer off from a throwing program and how does your arm feel now?
"Yes, I did. I had not thrown since Omaha until I got back. So probably had 8 weeks off. I have not thrown like this in the fall. Last week I was 91, touching 94, and then today I think I was hitting 91 to 93 and felt really good. Because whatever you hit in the fall you can add some to that in the spring and have a little left in the tank. I'm excited. My goal is to get up to 190 in terms of my weight for the spring. I think if I go into the spring at 190 I think I can put a little bit more in the tank."
Do you think you can maintain your weight better during the season?
"Everyone loses a little bit. It is tougher to eat as much because you are just always on the go. That is the toughest part - eating not just three times a day but four with snacks in between. So most people lose 3, 4 or 5 pounds. But a lot of them maintain a little lower. I think if I come in at 190 that would be really solid."
What do you think about Mark Fleury rejoining the Diamond Heels program as an undergraduate assistant coach while completing his course work towards his degree?
"Yeah, I am stoked, not to take anything away from the other coaches. I think it is good because he kind of serves as sort of a liaison between the players and the actual coaches. Because he still is a coach but at the same time he is a volunteer assistant [coach]. He can afford to get closer to the players in a personal way than the other coaches would not probably want to do for obvious reasons. His personality is contagious. I love it that he is on the staff."
Has it sunk in yet that you are a junior and in a position of leadership with such a big freshman class?
"I was talking with some people about that the other day. It has really been interesting. I feel like I am the same person but at the same time the switch is flipped and you are a junior now and people are just automatically looking at you. It definitely sunk very quickly in when I got back. I was not expecting it with the questions and the attention from the younger guys, but it makes sense and so it has sunk in."
Can you discuss the senior class and their leadership?
"Absolutely, I value what Smitty [Andrew Smith], [Tom] Zengel, Parks [Jordan], Matty [Matt Roberts], and Tate [Parrish] bring because they have been here longer than any of the juniors obviously and so they have an extra year of experience that adds value to what they can tell the freshmen and sophomores. Experience gives you that ability to kind of coach the younger guys. The more experience you have will automatically have a value added to them. They have not been in college ball, they have not played an ACC game yet. So it definitely means a lot when it comes from the seniors down to the freshmen. I am sure I can speak for the freshmen on that."
What is your perspective on the competition for playing time on the team overall and being selected to pitch the opening game of the Fall World Series for the Navy team?
"Yeah, it is a huge honor. I think the amount of folks on the staff is indicative of the competitiveness. There is a lot of competition for innings. I think the good thing about this team and what I have seen so far is the absence of the sour or negative component of this. It is pushing people in a positive manner. There is a big difference - you can compete with someone and be very negative about it or you can compete with someone the right way. I think we have a healthy amount of that on the team."