A conversation with Mike Martin, Pt. I

Ready to begin his 33rd campaign as skipper of the Seminoles, Mike Martin spent time with Nole Digest for this exclusive one-on-one interview. Part I: How does he replace Sean Gilmartin and Mike McGee?

Nole Digest: What are your initial thoughts coming into the new season? Are you as excited as a year ago? More? Less? Or have you done this so many times that it is all about the same these days?

Mike Martin: The time that I say it's not that exciting, it's just another year, or the time I say I've been through this so much it's just another thing that I have to do to get ready to play baseball, I'm outta here.

I'm excited. I've literally counted the days. I told my wife this morning I literally cannot wait until [Friday]. I'm, number one, frustrated with the rules that we're stuck with, which means two hours a week to work with kids until [Friday]. So we're really anxiously awaiting [Friday] to feel like coaches and teachers, where we can go out and try to make people better baseball players. I won't get into the rules situation.

ND: How has only being allowed those two hours per week potentially held you back to this point?

MM: We just don't feel like we've gotten a lot done individually. We've gotten some things done from a team's standpoint. We feel like we've gotten our pitchers where they need to be to begin spring training because they're under the same rules that an infielder is, but an infielder taking ground balls for 10 minutes isn't enough. But when a pitcher throws 10 minutes, that's more than enough. So it's just difficult to organize to where as a coach you feel comfortable when that 30-minute, 45-minute, hour session is over with.

ND: You lost your ace, Sean Gilmartin, to the first round of the draft. You lost your No. 3 hitter, Mike McGee, from a year ago. You don't necessarily want to say one versus the other, but which of those guys is more difficult to replace?

MM: Well, the third hitter also ended up as our No. 2 arm. But to compare those two guys is impossible because both of those guys were extremely important to our team. Neither was an outspoken leader, but yet both led in ways that were beneficial to our team. Gilly never missed a start for three years. Gilly would jump off the bench occasionally and help us. Mike McGee played every day and hit third. The year before [he] was a two-way player of the year. And then when we struggled pitching, he became our No. 2 starter.

Those two guys are gonna be sorely missed. But as we've tried to do for many years, we've gotta move on.

ND: When James Ramsey announced he was coming back for his senior year, more of your comments were about him off the field as opposed to on the field. What makes him such a special young man, and what are you expecting from him this last time around?

MM: Everything that he continues to give us on a daily basis, which is leadership, showing the younger guys what the expectations are here at Florida State. He's still the same James Ramsey. He pulled a sweet little 4.0 [grade point average] the first semester. His being nominated for a number of awards. Just a young man that provides so much to our team that, as we have mentioned before, will be the first guy in the history of Florida State baseball to wear a [captain's] "C" on his chest.

ND: Besides Ramsey and the other known quantities, are there any players that you need to have big seasons in order for your team to come out on top?

MM: I know that a lot of people talk about a guy carrying a team if he gets hot. The way that I look at it is this guy can make those around him better if he gets hot. We have some guys that we are looking to ignite us. And those, of course, are the guys that have been in our program for three or four years. We get very encouraged when we see guys who did not have great years offensively look great in practice. But unlike other sports, baseball is one of those in which you can't get up. You can't get down. You just got to go through the year, and if you have a big game, you have to say to yourself, "That was nice. Now I've gotta play again the next day. Let's be ready."

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So to answer your question, if Justin Gonzalez had a big year, maybe that would make Sherman Johnson have a great year. Because Sherman is seeing what's going on with him, and he's able to step it up a little bit. I never want one guy on our team to feel like he's gotta carry us. He has to do enough, but I don't want him to feel like he's gotta be a J.D. Drew. I just like the approach of our players. The expectations are understood. We have young guys that are adjusting very well. We have a new catcher (Stephen McGee). I haven't had a new catcher in two years. If you want to count this one, I could say three years, I guess. [Rafael Lopez] caught as a sophomore and then started as a junior and senior. You might say Stephen McGee was on the team two years ago. Yeah, he was, but I don't know that he caught an inning. He played some first base, some outfield and DH'd once or twice, but I'd have to check the numbers to verify that. He's been very impressive, and I'm anxious to see how he progresses. Maybe one of those returners will make him better.

If you start talking about individuals, obviously everything begins with James. But let's don't forget how important it is for Devon Travis and Jayce Boyd, because Devon has the ability as a leadoff hitter to give us run production and he sets the table. He has a very good eye. He's a tough out. But for those that are surrounding Ramsey, Jayce Boyd, whoever we insert around him, it is so important that they understand their role.

To check out Part II of our exclusive one-on-one interview with Florida State coach Mike Martin, Click Here.

Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.

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