On The Hill

The top-ranked Florida State Seminoles are in the middle of a 14-game homestand and will play only one road game -- at Florida March 9 -- over a 20-game span. FSU's pitching staff boasts a 2.13 ERA and a .210 opponent batting average. Here's the final installment of TheTerritory's interview with pitching coach Jamey Shouppe. "You want (Marc LaMacchia) him out there but you understand you can't win a national championship in February. You win that in June," Shouppe said.

Marc LaMacchia's injury has given you a chance to develop your staff's depth.

"Again, you never know when they start going to the doctors what they are going to find. I just hope there's nothing seriously wrong with his arm. I don't think there is – that's certainly not a medical opinion, just a personal opinion. And a lot of that is based on what I hope and bases on the fact that he's so important to our pitching (staff). We are a very good pitching staff. We have a lot of depth, but you can't replace a Marc LaMacchia in your pitching rotation. The guy is going to be a first- or second-round draft choice after this year if he's healthy. We will just wait and see. We want him out there when he's completely healthy and completely ready to go and we can feel good about it that he's going to be healthy."

It appears your depth and talent allows you to make sure Marc is completely healthy before he returns.

"That's what we are trying to do, but it's still tempting because you have a guy is a Jonathon Johnson in your rotation. You have a guy who is a high draft choice who throws that fastball 90-92 miles per hour, has a great changeup and has a great curevball. He is a tremendous college pitcher. You want him out there but you understand you can't win a national championship in February. You win that in June. The importance for us, not only for Marc but for us as a team and a coaching staff, to understand that. Really, this may help us in June because we are developing a little more depth in our pitching staff without having Marc LaMacchia available right now."

You had talked about using a pro-style approach in using your staff in matching up with batters. Have you been able to do that?

"We are trying. Right now, our focus has been, because of the competition that we are playing – we did that at Stanford – but the weekend series we're just basically trying to get guys out there to get their work in. Daniel Davidson is a guy that's going to come in and get some left-handed hitters for us. We've got Eddie Cannon, Rhett James, Kevin Lynch – those guys are going to be called upon to get right-handed hitters out. We feel confident in matching up those guys against anybody. We really do. Then we have a couple young left-handers in Matt DiBlasi and Hunter Jones who have shown signs of being pretty good. Those guys will have situations where they will come in to get left-handed hitters out as well. Then we have Daniel Hodges, the non-typical closer I think everyone calls him. But a guy who has been every effective since the day he walked in here and a guy who will leave here with a lot of Seminole records. That's a good bullpen. When you have three right-handers you have confidence in, and you have one legitimate, proven left-hander coming out of the bullpen plus two guys that show a lot of potential as freshmen left-handers and then you have that experienced closer and has proven he can do the job in that role, you feel good with your bullpen."

Talk about the offensive help your staff has been receiving thus far.

"I think we are going to even see more as we get into the season and guys understand their roles and who is going to be our DH and who is going to be at what position and we get Blake Balkcom back, too. Blake was a guy who should have been a junior-college All-American. He hit .395 with 18 home runs last year and he has only played in one series so far this year. So, offensively, we've done well and I think we are only going to get better. Especially when you start playing every day, that's really going to help our offense as well. We are excited, throughout the team. Not just offensively. Not just pitching. But together as a team. The prospects for this year. ... we knew that coming in. We have a good baseball team. As I said, we get Balkcom back, we get our lineup set, we get Marc back, boy, that's exciting for us as coaches. But you have to understand the nature of baseball as well, and that's what we try to do as a coaching staff. You have to understand it's baseball and it's the most humbling game in the world. Just because you are better than a team on paper doesn't mean you are going to go out and win every weekend. So, we have to keep getting our work in, keep getting guys better. As a coaching staff, we know we are talented. Our schedule gets increasingly difficult as we get into it. The ACC again is as good if not better than any conference in America this year. So, it's going to be a challenge but you always like your chances when you like your ballclub and I think as a coaching staff, we like this team. There's no glaring weaknesses – there are things we certainly need to work on. But we like our baseball team and that's important for us."

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