Cowboys Discuss 2011 Baseball Season

STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State head coach Frank Anderson and Cowboys Mark Ginther, Andrew Heaney, Dane Phillips and Brad Propst met with the media Thursday to discuss the upcoming 2011 season. The following is some of what they had to say.

Eighth-year head coach Frank Anderson
On the team’s numbers:
We are much better depth-wise than what we have been. We are about a half scholarship down from having a full load of scholarships. Just having the ability to give a little over 11 scholarships has helped us tremendously. There is good competition at a number of positions, and it has allowed us to go out and get some quality pitching that we needed. We like our club. We like the kids, the quality of the kids and the character of the kids, and I think the guys that we have brought in are going to add on to the players that we have returning. We are fortunate that we have some good guys returning, some of them are our better players that are returning.”

On the pitching staff:
“Last year was a long season to have to live through because at times we would pitch well, but then our pitching at the end of the games wasn’t very good. We lost numerous games at the end because we couldn’t close them out. I think that with Randy McCurry coming back and then with some of the new guys we have coming in, it gives us a chance to pitch the entire game instead of just six or seven innings.”

On the inclement weather hindering practice:
“We have taken a lot of swings and we still get to pitch, but some of the things that you don’t get to adjust to on a day-to-day basis are pop flies and catchers catching foul balls. That can be interesting for a while until they get used to it and different things like that, but we haven’t used it as an excuse at all. I think our kids are excited, and they have worked hard. I was talking to our coaches the other day and was saying, ‘Would you rather it be 70 degrees up until the weekend that you are going to open and then it go down to 40 degrees, or would you rather it be 19-below the week before and then 60 when you start?’ We have kind of taken a positive approach to it.”

On the team’s newcomers:
“Zach Johnson is a transfer from a California junior college that was drafted by Oakland. Some of our biggest recruits were guys that we got back, like Mike Strong and Davis Duren. Gabe Weidenaar is a junior college transfer from College of Southern Nevada. Hunter Herrera is a pitcher that we think can pitch quite a bit for us. Hunter Bailey has played middle infield and looks like he can play that at a high level. We have numerous junior college kids that can play outfield. Jared Womack will be big for us as a catcher. There are a lot of unknowns and quality players; you just have to see how they are getting out there and how they handle it. That is why these early games are huge to see who will handle it and who can’t.”

On the new bats:
“Originally nobody liked them. It is just an adjustment. We went in the cages and put the radar guns on them and took the exit speeds off of them, and they are about like a wooden bat that won’t break. I like them as a pitching guy. I think it is probably fairer overall. I think the scouts would probably like them because as you evaluate a college or high school guy in the past you have had to guess what is going to happen when you put wood in their hands, and this is going to help them have a little bit better idea.”

Sophomore catcher Dane Phillips
On catching full-time:
“I really like it. Being a designated hitter, you hit and then watch the rest of the game. I like working with pitchers and trying to keep the game speed good. I am really looking forward to it.”

On how the bats have affected the pitchers:
“There will be a lot more inside fastballs and challenging with fastballs. Pitchers can work hitters over more with the new bats.”

On his responsibilities as a full-time catcher:
“This year, coach will be calling the games pitching-wise, but I will be talking to the pitchers defensively so that they are doing everything we can to get outs. Also, I think another big part is keeping the game speed up. Everyone knows that if you are a catcher behind the plate just messing around, it brings the whole team down, but if you are intense, it brings the team up. You have to stay focused on every pitch and make sure the pitcher is comfortable.”

Junior third baseman Mark Ginther
On the infield this year:
“I think we will be alright. Davis Duren coming back helps out a lot. Zach Johnson is doing really well. Hunter Bailey at shortstop has really stepped up in taking over Tom Belza’s spot, which he was there for three years and was really solid. I think overall we are doing really well. The coaches have us out there getting ground balls until we say die so I think we will be alright.”

On what he gained from playing in the Cape Cod League over the summer:
“I just wanted to get more at-bats. Just seeing the quality pitching up there at the Cape every day, everyone is a Friday night (starter) and everyone is a closer up there, so just feeling more comfortable at the plate was important. 

On the team’s chemistry and how they will improve from last year:
“We have a good group of guys, and that makes it easier. We all hang out and stuff. It helps everyone get to know each other. We all know how we finished last year, and we don’t want it to happen again. It is definitely motivation for the guys returning.”

Sophomore pitcher Andrew Heaney
On if he has changed his pitching approach with the new bats:
“It gives you more confidence to pitch the way you know how to pitch. You aren’t quite as afraid to miss a spot. You have a little more leeway.”  

On game speed:
“Frank (Anderson), he really preaches on working quick. He is always saying to us about muscle memory and you have about 15 seconds until you forget the pitch that you just threw. So it is important to keep a good tempo, and that keeps your defense playing well behind you.”

On gaining weight during the offseason:
“It was a personal decision for me. I knew from what people were telling me, experience was one thing, but that was something I could work on now and make myself better and help myself this year.”

Senior pitcher Brad Propst
On if he has changed his pitching approach with the new bats:
“I haven’t really changed anything. It is a little bit easier. Balls don’t really go as far. But as far as changing anything, you still have to pick your spots because they will still hit it out of the park. The ball doesn’t go as far though.”

On coming back from injury:
“I started off last year injured and ended up coming back and pitched pretty well and got some needed experience on the mound. Hopefully, it will carry over to this year.”

On the weather:
“It really shows you who wants to be out there.”

Updated 02-11-2011

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