Tide Baseball Opens Practice Friday

The Alabama baseball team begins on-the-field preparations for the 2010 season with the first day of practice slated for Friday. The Crimson Tide has spent the past three weeks working on strength and conditioning and individual drills. The team will get together for the first time Friday and will hold scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday.

"Right now, we are real pleased with the players and the effort we have gotten up to this point," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We certainly feel like our identity is starting to take shape leading into the season. We've had a lot of work with our strength coach Rocky Colburn, especially this first month leading into the season with our weights and conditioning and getting ourselves back in physical condition."

The Crimson Tide returns 14 lettermen and six starters off last year's team that won 37 games and advanced to the NCAA Clemson Regional, the school's 20th all-time NCAA Regional appearance.

The infield returns intact with senior first baseman Clay Jones, junior second baseman Ross Wilson, junior shortstop Josh Rutledge and senior third baseman Jake Smith, who will also double as the team's closer this year. Sophomore Taylor Dugas, who earned Freshman All-American honors in left field last season, will move to centerfield this year.

"Our motto is play hard and get dirty," Gaspard said. "That's what we are expecting each day we go out there from our coaching staff and from our players and it's going to be a trust in the plan, trust in the coaching staff and a trust in your teammates and I think we are on that page and we are moving forward to do that and certainly we have enough talent to be very competitive and a team that can be very good down the road. That's the issue right now that we are really trying to address is being a tough-minded team and to improve game-by-game and day-by-day out at practice."

Alabama is expected to begin practice on Friday at 2:30 p.m. The team will practice at 11 a.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday, which will include an eight-inning scrimmage each day.

The Crimson Tide's annual "Fan Day" is set for Saturday, Feb. 6, beginning with a free kid's clinic (all kids through the sixth grade) at 9 a.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The 27th annual Grand Slammers preseason barbecue will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the CAVE at Coleman Coliseum. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth (12 and under). The day will conclude with an intrasquad game at Sewell-Thomas Stadium at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Alabama opens the 2010 season on Saturday, Feb. 20 against the South Alabama Jaguars at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The game is set to begin at 2:05 p.m. The two teams will play on Sunday, Feb. 21 at Stanky Field in Mobile as part of a two-game, home-and-home series to begin the year.

Season tickets for the 2010 Alabama baseball season are available through the Alabama Athletic Ticket Office (205) 348-2262.

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