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Baseball media days quick hits

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On the offense:

“Offensively, I don’t know if we’ve ever been more ready to start a season than we are now. It’s been a great three weeks watching those guys hit. They’ve made it really hard on our pitching staff. Sometimes you wonder, do we hit that good or do we pitch that bad? But this year, I think there’s no doubt this year that with all the returners that (the offense is really improved).”

On the pitching rotation:

“On Friday night, we’re going to start (sophomore) Bobby Wahl; on Saturday, we’ll start (senior) R.J. Hively; and on Sunday, we’ll start (sophomore) Mike Mayers. Junior Brett Huber will be our closer this year. From there, we’ll kind of see how it goes. What I mean by that is that we have a slew of young arms that I think are going to be guys that will make an impact this year. 

“One of the things that I’ve learned in 14 years as a head coach is it’s kind of hard on the freshmen right away, especially the pitchers. Some of the pitchers have taken some huge gains in the last couple of weeks, and that is exciting. Some guys that you’ll probably see immediately out of the bullpen at TCU (are) (junior college transfer) Dylan Chavez, (freshman) Sam Smith, (freshman) Josh Laxer and, I’m sure, several others.”

On the position players:

“When I look at it, we seem so new when you look at the roster and see all the new faces, but when you continue to look around the field, I think you’ll realize we’re not that young. We do return a lot of people.

“We start off behind the plate with (sophomore) Will Allen. At first base, we have (senior) Matt Snyder. At second base (junior) Alex Yarbrough. At shortstop, both (junior) Blake Newalu and (sophomore) Austin Anderson return. At third, (sophomore) Preston Overbey will share the position with (junior college transfer) Andrew Mistone. Preston can play some first base as well as some outfield.

“In the outfield, we have (junior) Tanner Mathis out in left accompanied by (senior) Zach Kirksey. Out in centerfield, we have (freshman) Auston Bousfield also accompanied by Will Jamison, another freshman. Jamison can play some right field along with Bousfield. They are kind of interchangeable along with (freshman) Senquez Golson.”

On the challenge of replacing all three weekend starters from last season:

“Well, I think that’s one of the reasons we talk about the team. I think the strength of this team right now is the offense and the position players, defensively. As far as the pitchers go, all of the pitchers will have a new role regardless if they’re a starter on the weekend or a reliever. The only one that’s fulfilled that role before is Brett Huber. I feel pretty good about the back end of the bullpen. 

“When I look at the team and the starters this year, I think the difference is having Bobby Wahl on Friday night. I think that’s one of the things we were missing last year. Although all three kids were very talented, I think the difference in last year’s staff was that we didn’t have that big gun. We’ve been fortunate over the last 10 years to have a guy we can throw out on Friday nights that can really compete in the Southeastern Conference. So, I’m excited again for that to happen with Bobby Wahl.”

On R.J. Hively and Mike Mayers:

“R.J. had a terrific fall. I think the difference in R.J. this year is his fastball command. He’s always had a great slider. He’s always had a lot of movement on his fastball, but this fall, I thought he made some adjustments and attacked the zone more with his fastball to put him in better counts where he could use his breaking ball more often. He’s a little different look than the other two (Wahl and Mayers).

“Mayers’s stuff resembles Bobby’s more in the sense that he’s a fastball, slider, change guy. He’s got good command, a good fastball. Mike’s fastball has gotten a few more miles per hour faster this year. He’s worked hard in the weight room and put on about 20 pounds. You can see a difference in his fastball velocity now that he’s averaging between 90 and 94 (mph). He’s worked hard with Coach (Carl) Lafferty as he’s picked up a slider. Last year when he came in as a freshman, he had a curveball. He’s always had good command, and he’s a good athlete. Just has a lot of the same attributes as Bobby does on the mound.”