It’s that time of year again.
With the 2017 season just around the corner, the 2016 ACC champion Tigers began spring practice on Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and the anticipation for the new year was readily apparent.
“I can’t even really explain how excited I am,” expressed sophomore Seth Beer. “Obviously, it’s a new season, and this is the first step to finally getting to that new season. It’s going to be a fun atmosphere to actually get out here and compete and get our team ready for the season.”
Second-year head coach Monte Lee echoed Beer’s enthusiasm, saying that he is looking forward to seeing how his players vie for starting roles over the coming weeks.
“The best thing about this time of year is that you’re still in development mode…you’re still coaching and teaching and trying to develop your players, but they have a sense of urgency because they know it’s just around the corner,” noted Lee. “You see that we’re not in September…guys understand that right now. They’re trying to make those final impressions during the last couple of weeks to win that role.
“That competition right now is going to be really high. There’s going to be a number of guys who want to pitch on Friday. There’s going to be guys who want to start in the field who are in the running for it. That sense of urgency and level of competition is high right now, and that’s the part that’s really fun.”
This spring features battles at a number of positions, and the depth of the team, even after losing some familiar faces to the professional ranks, will only add to the intensity of the spring.
“Second base is going to be a position of competition between Grayson Byrd, Jordan Greene and Adam Renwick,” said Lee. “The development of Seth Beer at first base is important and how that plays into what we do.
“Reed Rohlman and Weston Jackson in left field…those are two really good players, so we’re going to be looking at how we find ways to win games with both of those guys. The development of K.J. Bryant is also important…whether K.J. can solidify himself as an everyday player in right field, because he’s made leaps and bounds.
“We have to define the bullpen roles and who the midweek starter is going to be. We don’t know the midweek starter yet, but the one thing we do know is that last year, we had to put guys in those spots because it was all we had. This year, we can choose which guy to put in those spots because we have options, we have depth and we have competition.”
But even with all of the competition that will be put in before the season starts, the team is excited to finally be back on the field working towards opening day.
“I’m going crazy,” admitted righthander Alex Eubanks. “I absolutely cannot wait for February 17.”
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