"Matt Lynch, he's a winner. He just gets out there and competes and he's a guy you feel very comfortable giving the ball on Friday night. He will will get that ball on Friday nigh all year long. And the good thing that really makes Matt, and will make Florida State so much better, is there's not much of a dropoff on Saturday night in Marc LaMacchia right now. Those two are Friday-Saturday night guys. LaMacchia, velocity-wise, tops out about 92-93 mph and is really developed into a great pitcher. So, Friday-Saturday nights, we feel very comfortable right now if we were to open up.
"From there, there a lot of them competing for that third slot. Trent Peterson had a good summer. We would love to be able to go left, right, left in our rotation. Right now the one who is making that not probably is Mark Sauls. He's coming in and throwing as good as any freshman we've had it awhile. He throws it up there about 92 mph as well. Tremendous movement on his fastball. He has some mechanical things we are trying to work through, and he's a very coachable guy. That's a pitching coach's dream when you have a guy who is talented, plus he will listen to you a little bit and doesn't think he has all the answers off the get-go. He's always had great stuff and now he's getting that great stuff in the strike zone. Instead of throwing a big curve, he's throwing more of a slider, which for his arm slot and his velocity, is working well. It's really a cross between a curveball and a slider. So, one of those two right now, if we were to start tomorrow, would be our No. 3 guy."
Overall, how has fall practice gone?
"It has gone well. It has gone better for some than others. The pitchers are only throwing two innings every fourth day. It's not like we are trying to build them up. Matt Lynch, Daniel Hodges, a couple of seniors there, and Marc LaMacchia, a third-year junior, they've been through so many of these things. ... they are looking more towards January then they are toward October. They don't have a lot to prove. They are going out there to get the work in. It's old hat for them. Rather, the new guys, Trent Peterson and Mark Sauls, they are trying to compete for that third slot. Also, other guys, some talented freshmen who have come in and thrown real well. Hunter Jones (Palm Beach Gardens), the big lefty, has thrown real well. He's a big guy, about the same size of (Ryan) Berthelemy (former ‘Nole). Big left-handed pitcher. Then we have a right-hander from the same area in Glen Simon (Lake Worth). He has thrown pretty good at times, too. And all of them have thrown well. It has been a little bit different ball. Offensively, we feel like we are going to be pretty good offensively, so the guys are competing against a pretty good lineup. Plus, with the young guys, you throw out holding runners, you are changing some things mechnically, it's a busy fall for them. The older guys, it's an old hat, routine workout for them. It has been a learning experience for the younger guys and it's a routine day for the returning guys."
When you put pen on paper, this appears to be an extremely talented and deep staff. You must be excited about its potential?
"We are excited. It's college baseball and they do swing aluminum bats and you have to be careful anytime that you get overly excited. It is a staff that returns No. 1 and No. 2, and Trent Peterson and Daniel Hodges, our closer last year. And Kevin Lynch got some innings in the middle, Daniel Davidson got some innings in the middle. Those guys that really contributed and got a lot of innings last year are back. That sounds great. But ERA-wise, we were not in the Top 10 like we are usually are. So, there's still work to be done. We are not just going to take it granted that we are going to be good in January. We need to take every opportunity we can get, even after fall is done, until they come in January."
Have any roles been defined for changed this fall?
"For a coaching staff they are. In our mind – in coach Martin's mind and my mind – you pretty know coming out of the fall... you know Matt Lynch is No. 1, that role is defined. We know Marc LaMacchia is a 1B. He's that good. You can't call him a No. 2 because he's just as good as your No. 1. And he would be No. 1 on a lot of staffs. 1A is Matt Lynch and 1B is Marc LaMacchia. And we know right now Trent Peterson and Mark Sauls are competing for that No. 3 job. The other one will be our fourth starter because the other one needs to get starts and experience. We know Daniel Hodges is going to be used in the closer's role. He's going to be an innings guy for us, just like he always has. Those roles were pretty-well defined. We know Kevin Lynch is going to come in and try to get right-handed hitters out. As a coaching staff, in our minds, have some guys when we start putting the pitching schedule together in January, who to build up and who not to build up. Those things you don't announce. You want them competing."
Has your strategy or approach to preparation changed at all? You still plan to get your pitchers ready for situations?
"That won't change as long as coach Martin is here. He's going to throw a pitcher out there in put him in as many situations right off the get-go as possible. Sometimes the guys are a little bit overwhelmed, but you find out the ones who can really pitch through adversity and bad times. It sometimes seems unfair to the pitchers, I am sure at least in their minds it does, but the end product is to get them ready to compete no mater what the situation is That's not going to change as long as Mike Martin is coaching Florida State. Even I as a pitching coach sometimes wish it would because I would like to get guys to get in a situation where they can have more positive outings but his view is they are going to come in these situations. Anybody can pitch without anybody on. I kid him all the time about saying that Florida State is a hitter-friendly program and not a pitcher-friendly program (laughing). More love for the guys on the bump."
How have the coaching changes gone? Has it been a smooth transition?
"Oh, yeah. Everybody who was on board last year is still on board. The roles haven't changed any. The responsibilities haven't changed. Chip is now in a administrative position. Michael is doing the samething he was doing last year. As far as my role and responsibilities, they haven't changed."
The construction at Dick Hower Stadium obviously hindered fall practice, but it is going to be a wonderful facility once completed.
"Can't wait. I don't think, as coaches, even as players, can visualize exactly what it's going to look like yet because it's such a mess out there right now. Certainly, that will give us a better edge in recruiting and give us a better edge in home-field advantage, and I think we are doing pretty good in both of those already, but even more. We are excited. But right now it's such a mess ou there it's hard to see the light. It's frustrating right now because you come home with a headache everyday from practice because, instead of hearing the ping of the baseball coming off the aluminum, you hear the jackhamer in the stands. It has been frustrating but the frustration will be gone by the time they get that new stadium and our fans are able to increase in numbes. It's already one of the toughest places in the country to play, but that will even make it tougher."
Health-wise, how is your staff?
"Daniel Davidson has an elbow problem that we are real concerned with right now. He has an MRI today and we will know the results of that soon. We are concerned about his elbow – there's some looseness in there, so we have ligament concerns there. We had a young kid who I think has a lot of potential – Drew Stilley (Jacksonville) – he was one of the hazards of construction. We were throwing in the bullpen and that bullpen will eventually be covered with carpet, the cement in front of the mound area to the cathcer. He threw a ball in the dirt that bounced off the catcher and it started rolling back to him on the cement. So he walked forward, and with spikes on, he stepped from the mound to the cement, which was slick, and he ended up reaching down for the ball and falling, breaking his (left wrist. He gets his cast off today. But we've still been able to work on his mechanics, without throwing the baseball. Trying to get him a little shorter."