Wow, we're just pumping out the content right now. As promised, I sat through Paul Mainieiri's preseason press conference, which was really just the usual string of platitudes, but there was some nuggets in there.
1. The lineup
Chad Jones being a starter in the outfield gives us an all African-American outfield. It's not that important, but it is pretty rare at a big time NCAA school. Jones will be lost for 20 games this season, but he will play in the Alabama series during a break in Spring Practice. Mainieiri did not indicate who will start when Jones plays football, but he raved about Jones throughout. There's no doubt he has talent, the question is translating talent into production.
2. The rotation
All will be on a 75 pitch count this first weekend, and Mainieri wants to use his entire bullpen this weekend to see what he has there. Cain is the first guy out of the pen, probably.
Coleman is getting a courtesy start as a senior and then will go back to the pen to be our closer, which means there is still a competition for the final rotation slot. Bradshaw, who I thought was the clear front runner, has been hurt and just started throwing again so he's an unlikely candidate right now. He mentioned Cain, Nicholson, and Matulis as candidates for the job.
3. We're losing another player
We only have 35 roster slots, one of which is being used on Brown, who has retired. Another roster slot will be wasted as one of our freshman position players may require season ending surgery, though he wouldn't say who. Since Mainieri raved about Mahtook earlier in the presser, I don't think it's him. He's the most valuable prospect, so it better not be. We can afford to lose one of the other freshmen for a year to a medical redshirt. Though it makes losing Gaudet all the more infuriating.
He admitted to be nervous about this game and compared it to his first time going to Omaha. The opening of the new Box is a big deal and there is a lot of pressure. I liked that he didn't try and sidestep it and he admitted he isn't sleeping right now. But he also exuded confidence, and even joked that he didn't believe in overconfidence. He wants the team confident. When asked about being #1, he said he wanted to be #1. Mainieiri knows this is a really good team.
The guys he talked most about were Ranaudo and Landry. He's predicting a massive year from Landry at the plate, which would be huge, and he just couldn't stop gushing about Ranaudo. We have our Friday starter, I hope.
This is a really good team. He knows its a really good team. The team's clear goal is to go to Omaha and win a national title. I hate to say that anything less would be a disappointment, because I'll always be happy with a trip to Omaha, but this team is absolutely loaded. Mainieri talked like a guy who knows that his team is supposed to win it all.
First pitch tomorrow. Villanova is the first victim. The march to Omaha begins now.