Around The Horn

Renovations continue at Dick Howser Stadium as crews work daily to prepare the facility for the upcoming season. There also has been plenty of change on the field for the Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles conclude fall drills today, and assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr., is pleased with the team's effort. "It was a good fall. Productive fall," Martin Jr. told TheTerritory Thursday.

"We had good weather. The construction wasn't near as much as a distraction (this fall), so we feel like we had a productive fall. We are wrapping up our four-man drills today. We have competition all over the field, which is obviously good. Competition makes everyone better. We've got some battles going on. We've got some young guys we are going to have to be patient with."

FSU will field one of its youngest teams in the Mike Martin era.

Four seniors return -- second baseman Brian Zech, left fielder Matt Sauls and pitchers Rhett James and Eddie Cannon -- and 14 freshmen dot the roster.

In fact, many newcomers could be asked to produce in a hurry.

Only three position starters return in Zech, shortstop Stephen Drew, and leading hitter (.371) Eddie Martinez-Esteve who has been moved from third base to right field. The Seminoles may very well start a freshman at third base and in center field, while others also are deep in the mix.

"We've been very pleased with the (newcomers') work ethic," Martin Jr. said.

"We are very young. We are absolutely the youngest club 11 (Martin Sr.) is going to put out there in a long time. That being said, that can be good. You are getting them before they know it all or have outside influences (laughing) from partying to stuff like that. They don't have any that. They are young, bright-eyed kids who are willing to learn and are willing to work hard every single day. That's what we are looking to do. With patience being the key word, we are going to push these guys to the best they can be."

Pitching is considered a strength, even if FSU must replace its entire starting rotation -- Matt Lynch (13-4, 3.53 ERA), Trent Peterson (10-1, 2.70) and Daniel Davidson (10-0, 2.63) -- and is without Marc LaMacchia, the expected ace who signed with the Texas Rangers just hours before the start of school.

"Still, a lot of guys have been impressive," Martin Jr. said of the Semnoles' pitching staff.

While decisions must be made, the rotation could very well feature James (2-4, 3.43 ER), who enjoyed a superb summer, Mark Sauls (5-0, 3.27 ERA), and Hunter Jones (2-0, 2.53). Glen Simon (3-0, 1.57) also is in the mix as well as freshman Tyler Chambliss.

The closer's role also remains a question mark, though Kevin Lynch, one of the team's most experienced pitchers, James and Chambliss are all being considered.

"We are going to use a lot of players this year," Martin Jr. said.

"We are going to try to match up pitching-wise. We've got some situational guys we like. Hunter Davis is an underneath guy who is tough on right-handed hitters. Brian Schultz is tough on left-handers. You also have Matt DiBlasi and Kevin Lynch in there as well."

Martin said it's also extremely important for FSU's veterans -- while not large in numbers -- to provide needed leadership.

"We are looking for leadership. We've talked to the older guys to get that leadership," Martin said.

"Right now we don't' have the Ryan Barthelemy, the guy everyone looks up to, or the Jarred Brown, Tony Richie, guys like that. We don't have that one guy who holds the fort down and runs the club from a leadership standpoint. But I think that guy will surface. Who it will be, I am not sure. But somebody always surfaces every year."

Of course, changes to Dick Howser Stadium also continue.

"It's coming along," Martin said.

"They are working on the press box, offices, skyboxes. There's still finishing the weight room and training room. Tradition room is not finished. Our club house, equipment stations are complete. We are functional in that regard. We are not living the good life quite yet but it's a beautiful facility."

POSITION BATTLES

Catchers
Aaron Cheesman (Jr), Raul Rodriguez (Fr.), Danny Diaz (Fr.)

First Base
Danny Wardell (Jr.), Louis Rojas (Fr.)

Second Base
Bryan Zech (Sr.), Gibbs Chapman (Jr), Ryne Malone (Fr.)

Third Base
Ryne Malone (Fr.), Dennis Anderson (Fr.)

Shortstop
Stephen Drew (Jr.)

Left Field
Matt Sauls (Sr.), Derrick Smith (So.), Brant Peacher (Fr.) Gibbs Chapman (Jr.)

Center Field
Shane Robinson (Fr.)

Right Field
Eddie Martinez-Estve (So.)


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