Oct. 17, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State baseball team wrapped-up its fall practice schedule this past week with the annual Green-White World Series. Coach Jake Boss Jr., provided some insight on the team's fall workouts as well as what's ahead leading up to the start of the 2014 season.
What was your overall impression of fall practice?
Coach Boss: I am very pleased with how the fall went. There are a lot of new guys, combined with quite a few returning guys that got significant playing time last year. It's a good opportunity for the returning players to get some good work in, to improve their games, and to make that next step from a year ago, while also allowing the freshmen to get their feet wet in college baseball. With that I think we accomplished all of our goals this fall that we wanted. We are on our way, which will carry over into our offseason work, but now we have a good baseline from where to start and I'm excited about the possibilities for next spring.
Talk about the importance of fall ball for freshmen?
Coach Boss: Fall is very important for our freshmen. The speed of the game is different, and the little things in the game can be magnified, so for our first-year guys it becomes really important to play in the fall. We play a lot of intrasquad games and it allows for them to get a taste of the speed of the game as well as get adjusted to baseball at the next level. The transition was good. The younger players, to their credit, did a real nice job of speeding things up, and at the same time slowing things down. So they played faster, but the games slowed down in a sense for them as well. I think they all feel pretty comfortable now with where we are in this level of the game. I think everybody has a solid plan of what we need to do in the offseason to prepare for 2014.
Talk about the infield...
Coach Boss: Most of the guys are back in our infield and I think they all played very well. Ryan Richardson had a very good fall both offensively and defensively. He hit .415 this fall and played very good defense, so he will be our shortstop. Ryan Krill also had a good fall. He showed some power and the ability to consistently drive the ball, which is something we were looking for out of him. PJ Nowak at second base played very good defense, he's gotten stronger, quicker and he has really elevated his game from a year ago. Then at third base Justin Hovis got the majority of the playing time last year and again he had a good fall and played some great defense. Dan Durkin also played very good defense and did a nice job at the plate as well. So we have some depth in the infield, along with some of the freshmen.
I'm excited about where we are at in the infield and the depth that we have.
How about the outfield?
Coach Boss: A lot of guys are back in the outfield as well. Tony Cheky hit .421 and played very good in center field. He had a lot of extra base hits, drove in a lot of runs and really played well for us. Cam Gibson played very well in left field. We had some quality at-bats this fall from Cam, he scored more runs that anybody which is what we need him to do. Additionally, he had a lot of stolen bases and that's his game - put pressure on the opponent. Jimmy Pickens had a very good fall and showed some power, which he possesses a lot of, and just picked up from where he left off from playing in the Cape Cod League last summer.
We feel very good about our outfield. We have some interchangeable parts because there are some guys from the infield that we can move out there as well.
Talk about what you saw from the catchers this fall.
Coach Boss: Our catching is anchored by Joel Fisher who, in my opinion, is the best defensive catcher in the Big Ten, maybe the best defensive catcher that we saw all year last season. He had another solid fall behind the plate. Blaise Salter is going to help us as well behind the plate. Chad Roskelly, a freshman, really got a lot better from the beginning of the fall to the end and he will continue to work hard for us all season.
Talk about what you saw from your pitching staff.
Coach Boss: Mick VanVossen and Anthony Misiewicz were mainstays last year and both had pretty good falls. Mike Theodore and Chase Rihtarchik threw well, along with redshirt freshman Josh Buchalski - he threw a lot of strikes and really did a nice job on the mound. Cam Vieaux, has an awfully high ceiling and is another guy that had an ERA under 2.00 this fall and really threw well as he continues to get better and better. We have a lot of freshman on the mound, so again, those guys were able to get their feet wet and have an introduction to college baseball.
Describe the different perspective fall practice provides.
Coach Boss: I like to watch from different viewpoints from around the field, press box and the stands. It's good to hear what's going on down on the field and how we communicate. The different perspectives help a lot. We want to let our players play and see what they can and can't do; what they're willing to try and maybe what they're still hesitant on doing.
Talk about the schedule now leading up to the season.
Coach Boss: With team practices now over, we will do some individual position work. The NCAA allows us eight hours per week to work with our players, but only two of those hours can be baseball related. We really turn the dial up in the weight room now. Guys are able to make a lot of improvement in both weight and speed training. At the same time, we work for two hours per week in more individual sessions. We work with guys on various aspects of their games. It's a time break the game down to its simplest form and build guys back up.
Practice resumes Jan. 24, 2014 and we'll be ready to go.