Leggett optimistic entering 2012

CLEMSON - Entering his 19th season as the head coach at Clemson, Jack Leggett has plenty of holes to fill in his starting lineup.

With the departures of Brad Miller, Will Lamb, John Hinson, Jeff Schaus and Chris Epps, the Tigers lost over half of their runs, hits, homeruns and runs batted in from 2011.

"In order to score some runs, we're going to have to be very good at execution," Leggett said on Friday, the Tigers' first-day of practice.

"We've got to be able to move runners around. We've got to get our bunts down. We've got to hit behind runners when we have to. Everybody is going to have to be very unselfish."

Phil Pohl is first among returning players with 76 hits and 22 doubles.

Of the 48 homeruns hit a year ago, Richie Shaffer had a team-high 13. Pohl is second among returning players with four, which matches the combined total of the other 20 lettermen.

"We've got a few guys that can bop the ball around a little bit and have some power," Leggett said. "At the same time, we don't want to build our game totally around that. If you're sitting around waiting on that with these bats, it's just not going to happen.

"We've got a few guys that will take care of some homeruns for us. At the same time, I think it's important we stick to our game, stick to the things we've been working on in the batting cages and take our fundamentals out to the baseball field. If we do that, I think we've got a chance to have a good offensive team."

Shaffer will move across the diamond to third base. Jason Stolz, who started all 63 games last season, will move from second base to shortstop, his natural position. Replacing at first will be Jon McGibbon. Spencer Kieboom is back behind the plate at catcher with Phil Pohl, who will also DH and play in the outfield.

The departures of Schaus, Epps and Lamb have left all three outfield spots up for grabs.

"We've got six guys out there. Thomas Brittle has a chance to play centerfield for us. I like our freshman, Tyler Slaton, who has been practicing very well us. Dominic Attanasio has a chance to play some, if he gets everything together," Leggett said. "Joey Costigan works hard out there. Brad Felder, who transferred into the program, has a chance to work in there as well. Mike Triller is coming on strong all the time. Garrett Boulware is another kid we're excited about."

Leggett considerably fewer questions marks surrounding his pitching staff.

Led by Friday starter Kevin Brady, a 17th round pick by the Cleveland, who struck out 33 batters in 23 1/3 innings last season, the Tigers have a host of veterans returning to the rubber.

"I think our pitching has a chance to be one of our strong suits," Leggett said. "We've got Brady back and healthy, which I think is a good thing for us. We've got Dominic Leone, Scotty Firth, David Haselden, Joseph Moorefield. We've got some experience that way. We've got some good young players that are going to come in and help us out."

Among the notable young arms is Daniel Gossett, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 16th round out of Byrnes High School.

"I thought he really came on, got stronger, physically, started to understand the transition from high school to college baseball," Leggett said. "It took him a little while, as it does for all freshmen, to figure that out."

Leggett was non-committal about the specific roles for the pitching staff.

"It's a great looking group of kids we've had out here during the fall," he said. "They're working hard. I'm excited about seeing them out here in practice gear, playing together as a unit, which we haven't been able to do for a while.

"I'm excited about us and the preparation it takes to win."


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