Tulane Baseball holds Media Day - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Tulane Baseball holds Media Day

Tulane Baseball starts their season against Illinois, February 19th. (Nola.com) Tulane Baseball starts their season against Illinois, February 19th. (Nola.com)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

Tulane Baseball opens their 2016 campaign next Friday against Illinois. Today the Wave hosted media day, to break down their upcoming season. 

Here's a transcript from Head Coach David Pierce, and some of his players.

Opening Statement

“I would like to quickly thank Troy Dannen for coming in and being our new leader. So far, he has done an outstanding job in just creating culture and unity within the department, so that is really exciting. I would also like to thank our support staff. First of all, I would like to thank Barbara Burke for all of her support, and then the rest of our support staff, including Todd Graffagnini, Curtis Akey, Trase Guidry, Russ Buller and Andy Massey. As always, I appreciate our coaches, who do a tremendous job day-in and day-out as position coaches and just the things that they do on a daily basis just to make things click. Those coaches are Sean Allen, Philip Miller, Phil Haig and baseball operations Brian Meyer.”

“Today is the day that the optimism and the expectations of year two really come to fruition, and I just don’t think we could be more excited to get started. This team is ready to go. We have veteran leadership, and we are really looking forward to the process. The word optimism is a huge word for this team, because we are older. The expectations that, not only the players have put on themselves, but also the community is a good thing, but I think we want to focus as a team much more on the process, and how the day-to-day grind affects us, and how we handle that. The ups and downs, the adversities and how we deal with those over the course of a long season.”

On the roster…

“Our roster is very interesting. It stays in coordination with our university. We represent 13 states on our roster, with Texas having the most with 10 players and Louisiana having nine. We have five redshirt- seniors, six seniors, four redshirt-juniors, eight juniors, three redshirt-sophomores, one redshirt- freshman, no sophomores, and 10 freshmen. We have 11 right-handed pitchers and four or five, depending on the switch player, left-handed pitchers. We actually improved our left-handed hitting. We have six left-handed hitters and 14 right-handed hitters. I think what you will see is the strength of our team is truly in numbers. Every one of these players brings a different strength, and I think you will see us utilizing that much more this year. Year two is so much easier for us as a staff, because, a year ago, our players had no idea what to expect from our coaching styles, our philosophies, our coverages, the things that we do like verbal calls; those things, especially with an older group, and a group that has ambition, the learning curve has really sped up.”

“The young players are very interesting. We had quite a few transfers come in at the end, and we have a big freshmen group. The beautiful thing about the freshmen group is that they are going to have the ability to play in spots because we have such a veteran team this year. I think you will be very impressed with the maturation of this program. The players on the field are going to play with excitement, energy and they are going to play for each other. When you look at our team, and you talk about the strengths, we are going to have a starting lineup that has so many different combinations just based on what we can do this year.”

“We have the ability to match up a little better in the bullpen with left-handed pitchers vs. left-handed hitters, as well as the right-handed matchups. When you look at those left-handed guys, they have made great strides, including our new left-hander, Christian Colletti, a transfer. I still think that the strength of our pitching staff is the guys that we return from last year. We played 60 games and we returned 59 starts, and the one start that we don’t return is our closer. Our closer actually started a midweek game for us because he needed to iron out a couple of things to just get himself right. We are going to be experienced on the mound. We are not an overpowering pitching staff. We have to pitch. We have to use three or four pitches. We have to pitch backwards, and we have to pitch ahead of hitters. We have a saying on our staff that we would truly prefer not to give in to hitters. At times, we will actually walk a guy in a situation where we may be in a better matchup with the next guy, but with that being said, one of our goals this year is to not walk anybody, so we will see how that works out.”

On the outfield…

“Our outfield can really run. We have returning players in (Richard) Carthon, (Grant) Brown and (Lex) Kaplan. We have two freshmen who we can insert that I think can really help us with depth in Tyler Heinrichs, a right-handed hitter, who gives us some platooning and some balance; this kid is going to be a tremendous player, and a young man by the name of Grant Witherspoon, who is kind of a swing player for us. He can play outfield and also play first base. Of course, we also have Jarret DeHart, who is a transfer and is going to play a lot. There are four to six outfielders there that are going to give us a tremendous amount of time.”

On first base…

“At first base, Hunter Williams has definitely proven that he is the front-runner there. He went out and stole 17 bases this summer, and he told me that he is going to steal more bases than Stephen (Alemais( this year, so we will see about that. He’s got to get on base more than Stephen first though. He looks really polished at first base, but we also have the ability to use Lex, off of an arm injury, as well Witherspoon at first base.”

On second base…

“At second base it’s pretty interesting, because Jake Willsey is a plus defender who has made huge strides offensively, and the work he has put in has shown. He is a hard worker who is always willing to get better. He worked very hard on his swing this fall. He has done a lot of things that we expect from him. I think you are going to see a bit more power in his swing, and a lot more confident hitter. Then you have Shea [Pierce], my son, and I think what he offers is some intangibles of being able to control the bat by slashing, advancing runners, execute the hit and run and create some leadership as a 22-year old, so I think those two can give us some great depth at second base.”

On shortstop…

“At shortstop, I don’t know who is going to play there this year [jokingly]. Stephen is an All-American in two publications, and that is well deserved. I think what I am so impressed with Stephen right now is how he has approached the summer, the fall and the excitement that he has for this season. He has shown great leadership on this team, and that’s what we really need from that position.”

On third base…

“Hunter Hope may be the best fielding defender in the country at third base. He is a kid who gets overlooked. He is quiet, very physical and he has an opportunity to hit the ball with power. He’s just a great defender, and he’s going to be a plus this year.”

On the catchers…

“Behind the plate, we have probably the best three catchers in one group that I have ever had with Jake Rogers, who, in my opinion, is the best catch-and-throw guy in the country. I have some bias, obviously, but his numbers also prove that over the last few years. Then we have Jeremy Montalbano, who is a great number two guy. He also is a plus hitter, and he is going to DH a lot for us this year. Those two guys are solid. You can’t ever forget about Cameron Burns. Early in the year, he caught every Sunday for us. He is a great defensive catcher. He has the intangibles and he is the type of player that you can use without worrying about burning a DH or maybe taxing your starter. We have great options behind the plate as well.”

On starting pitcher…

“Starting pitching wise, I think we will just lean on about the five or six guys that were our strength last year, and those guys are Corey Merrill, Alex Massey, Emerson Gibbs, Patrick Duester and Tim Yandel. We have got some help coming with J.P. France whose arm seems to be coming back. He is doing very well. We have also got Ross Massey, a left-hander, who will have the chance to start some games for us. I think we have the ability to stack some starts, in other words, starting kids for four or five innings and then going to a second starting pitcher before seeing who is going to finish it for us on the back end.”

On the bullpen…

“The back end is interesting, because we have some power arms like Trevor Simms, the kicker, and a kid by the name of Chris Oakley, but we have to get them in season, because they haven’t pitched a lot. They have stuff, but they are still mastering command. We also have potentially our best relief man from last year back in Dan Rankin, so if we can get all of those guys back then we should have a very solid pitching staff.”

“The other thing that I want to mention is that the strength of this team is definitely the team itself, within our numbers. I think we have a very solid defensive team. I think we are going to be a very productive offensive team. I think the strength of our team is the combinations that we have. My job is to make sure that we have the right guys going against the right guys.”

(To Lex Kaplan) On how happy he is to be back after his injury in the summer…

“I was very confident that I would be coming back, and I am very excited for this year and what I have seen out of the team. I think it’s going to be a big year for us.”

(To Coach Pierce) On closer role developing in spring…

“I just think the lack of experience is why it’s unclear, and we can overcome that in some areas because we can insert them in certain chances where they can succeed, but I’m not afraid to put one of these others guys in the back end either. J.P. France is a great example. He’s a swing guy right now for the simple fact that he’s coming off of an injury. He’s throwing really well and recovering really well, but I wouldn’t have a problem putting Patrick [Duester] in the back end either. He’s been there before.”

(To Coach Pierce) On if there is more pressure to produce this year with bigger expectations…

“We don’t coach any different. The staff, the players; we put pressure on ourselves everyday to perform, and I don’t think there can be exterior pressures to create more pressure for us; that’s just what we do. We have to understand that there is a grind, and we are going to drop a game here and there, and we will have to have the ability to recover from that. As well, if we are playing well and on a streak, we have to be mature about that. The game of baseball is so different than basketball or football where you have one or two games a week. You have to be able to bounce back. We have a saying that we have to be able to win on Sundays. You have to be able to win on Sundays because that’s the rubber match many times, and there are potentially plenty of opportunities to sweep, win a series or prevent ourselves from being swept. Those preventions are big games just to bounce back and get ourselves back to Tuesday. I don’t think there’s more pressure. I think the team is going to put enough pressure on themselves.”

(To Coach Pierce) On comfort level in year two at Tulane…

“I think it’s huge. I think it’s more comfort for the players for us. The players can probably answer it better than us.”

(Stephen Alemais) “Just having them around makes it easier for us. We know their philosophies as coaches. We know how they run things, so it’s easier for us to show the young guys that this is how things are run here. Last year, we didn’t know what to expect with new coaches, and we didn’t know what was coming in. Just having the second year makes it easier for us to pass it on to the younger guys and it’s like second nature to us now.”

 Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly