Monday with Mike Fox

Monday with Mike Fox

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- The Tar Heels opened the 2010 baseball season over the weekend with a series sweep of George Washington. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

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Can you give your impressions of the opening series against George Washington?

"First of all it was certainly good to get our season underway. It is always an exciting time for everybody since we have been together and practicing for so long since September. It was nice to have a good weekend and know that we were going to get three games in. Certainly we were tested in a number of ways. I thought George Washington played sensational against us and we were fortunate to win Friday I thought. Our kids have learned how to win and do the little things over the course of a game to put us in a position to win and Mike Cavasinni certainly came up big for us. I was pleased overall. I didn't really quite know what to expect but we certainly are glad to get three wins under our belt and get our season underway."

Do you have any areas of concern after the first series?

"I don't have any concerns right now. I think it is too early right now looking for areas - looking for anything negative. This is about just repetition and getting live at bats and running some pitchers out there and getting them some innings. I think it is way too early - for me in particular - to start looking at areas. We have just got to continue to work; we are going to work on some fundamentals in practice today and just keep getting some reps from our guys and keep our pitchers going. If we had an area of concern it is getting everyone healthy and getting some of our pitchers back where we have a chance to use them like Bryant Gaines, Nate Striz and Cody Stiles. Some guys that we have had to hold back a little bit, right now we need to get them healthy."

Can you discuss the team's plate discipline against the Colonials?

"I think it is important - we are the kind of team that tries to move the ball. We certainly talked about that in the preseason about trying to move the ball with two strikes. We can't be a team I think that strikes out a lot. I was very impressed with George Washington's pitchers - especially their starting pitchers - how many strikes they threw. They threw a lot of first pitch strikes and we had a couple of innings where our guys were swinging at them, which is fine. We squared up a lot of balls I thought. I think people out there look at the number of hits and I just look at the number of balls we hit hard and overall I thought it was a good weekend for us offensively and we had a number of different guys sort of step up. I thought our guys looked at the ball pretty well for the opening series considering the few amount of times that we have been on the field this preseason."

It was a good first look at Brian Goodwin's speed on the bases…

"He has been blessed certainly with great speed. I think as the season goes on he will bunt a little bit and chop some balls and be able to leg some balls out getting out of the box. He has had a hamstring pull so he is probably not at 100 percent - I think he is physically, but mentally I think maybe probably not quite there. It has got to be a big part of his game with his foot speed."

What was your opinion of the performances of your starting pitching?

"It was solid. Not many walks. We withstood a three-run inning yesterday and I thought that Patrick Johnson gave us seven solid innings. Matt [Harvey] had a tough start but had two ground balls on plays we should have made in the first inning - then you are behind. But I thought all three of them gave us good quality starts on their first time out and it is new for them as well. We just want those guys to go out and they do not have to do anything spectacular and just be around the strike zone and make the other team swing the bat and hopefully we will play good defense behind them."

Colin Bates and Patrick Johnson both picked runners off this weekend - how do you work on that as a team?

"It is something we work on. Coach Forbes spends a considerable amount of time with our pitchers and we talk about holding runners and how important it is to have good, quick feet. You never know when you are going to pick a guy off. You try to pick the right time to throw over. All three of our starters have really good pick off moves to first - below one second and some of them .85 to .90. Not a balk move - just good quick feet. You will notice George Washington did as well - they had pitchers with some quick feet and they were quick to the plate. It is the way to negate the running game and we caught a couple guys leaning this weekend, which certainly helped us."

Can you discuss the play of Mike Cavasinni?

"He had a great weekend. It did not surprise us - he has played very well this year in the fall and in preseason. Michael is just a gamer and been around for so long. There is no substitute for experience and I thought he was terrific in center field. Those are not easy catches when the ball is hit on a line right at you and the ball is sinking a little bit and you have to make a quick decision of whether to try to catch it or certainly break down and let it drop in front of you. He made a couple big plays and stepped up in crucial situations and moved the ball for us and found some holes. He is our leader and our sparkplug and the heart of our team - we need him on the field."

Who do you expect to start for you against UNC-G this Tuesday?

"Garrett Davis with throw tomorrow against UNC-Greensboro and we will see how that goes. And we will go with the same rotation this weekend against Maine and we have a single [mid-week] game next week and we will just play that one - one at a time. Garrett has pitched pretty well for us in the preseason and has pretty much won that mid-week job in our eyes but then it is based on performance so we will see how he does tomorrow."

What was the adjustment like for you being in the dugout for the first time in your UNC tenure instead of in the third base coaching box?

"It was a little different for me but it is not about me. I actually enjoyed being in the dugout and being able to talk with some of the players a little bit more offensively. I tried just for the most part to remain quiet and let them play the game. Coach Forbes and I like being in there with them and we can talk about pitching situations down towards the end of the game and before we were unable to do that. It was fine and I actually enjoyed being in the dugout."

Peter Gammons, as the keynote speaker for the First Pitch Banquet, discussed the relationship between college baseball and Major League Baseball. What is the one thing that you would change to improve that relationship?

"Oh gosh, there is probably more than one. We don't have a relationship right now in my opinion. I think if there is one thing I would change there would be a relationship. I'm not of the opinion that Major League Baseball cares that much about college baseball. I would like for there to be more of a dialogue about the relationship and we do our part, we think, with allowing the scouts to have access to our players, and our practices and certainly our games and we are trying to get our players to the next level. I hope there is continued dialogue and I certainly would like to see that there is some sort of cap as far as the draft is concerned. That is our biggest issue with recruits and whether or not they are going to come to school with the money and the round - there is no system right now. So I am hoping that is going to change over the course of the next couple years whether there is a slot/cap system where this round you get what you get and maybe we will have a better idea of who is going to come to school or not."

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