Danny Hall: "High Hopes & High Expectations"

Heading into the 2010 pre-season baseball practice, Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall had most of his starting lineup in place. Most of the questions he had were answered in fall practice.

You mentioned at the end of fall practice that you were still looking at the back end of the starting rotation. Has a decision been made on the rotation?

"Brandon Cumpton will start on Saturday and Mark Pope will go on Sunday. Jed Bradley is kind of our swing guy. We'd like to have him available on some weekends because he's left-handed. He could also get some Tuesday-Wednesday starts. I think two of the freshmen that we'd like to get some starts under their belts are Luke Bard and Buck Farmer. They'd be like we used Deck (McGuire) and Cumpton when they were freshmen. They can get some starts under their belts to help us not only in post-season but to get them ready for next season. They'd be ready to go in our starting rotation next year. We'll certainly used (Andrew) Robinson and Kevin Jacob at the end of games. We'll use everybody else to get us to the end of the games."

Is it an advantage going into the season knowing you have Jacob as your closer?

"I think so just because of his stuff. He has the most dominant stuff of anyone we've had in a long time. Hopefully it will be a tough matchup for other teams. He hasn't done a lot of it; however, he did a lot of it last summer in Alaska. Now he has to do it against our competition and against metal bats.

It's also nice to have Robinson if Kevin has any problems?

"Robbie is a nice insurance policy. He has a lot of experience in the bullpen. We look forward to having him more as a setup guy and a closer from time to time."

How nice is it to have most of your time back for this season?

"You look at getting Tony Plagman back who was a great player for us last year; Jeff Rowland, Andrew Robinson the guys who have been in the program and form a good nucleus of guys who we can count on and know what I expect and can uphold the Georgia Tech tradition. It means a lot and we're counting on those guys leadership and competitiveness to carry us throughout the year. "

This will be a tough year in the conference?

"I think they picked us to finish fourth. The good news is we're in the top ten in the country. The bad news is the ACC thought we were the fourth best team in the league. It's that way every year and I think we play in a great conference. We play a great schedule and that's what makes it fun for the players."

What are you expecting this year?

"I'm excited to get these guys out here today. We have high hopes and high expectations. We have to work hard everyday and try to get better everyday. We have a lot of challenges between now and the end of the year but we feel if we work hard and do what we're supposed to do we'll be one of the teams standing at the end of the year with a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament."

Do you take much stock in pre-season rankings?

"It's something for people to talk about. I'd much rather be ranked than not ranked. I think it says that people think you have a good team and a good program. It's where you want to be. You want people talking about you. If they're not talking about you, you're not very good. We want to get talked about but it doesn't mean anything in terms of wins and loses. It's just a number that somebody has put on us and now we have to go out and work hard to prove that right."

Has the position of backup catcher been solidified after watching the fall practices?

"I like Matt Skole a lot and he's much better than I thought he would be. We still have some work cut out for us. I think (Thomas) Nichols is coming. His knee hurt him a little late in the fall and we couldn't catch him much but we'll catch him some here and we'll catch Matt some in the pre-season. If we have to go to a third guy it would be Thomas Nichols."

Will second base be a case of whoever is hot at the time?

"I think so. I think we have three great kids. We have three different kinds of players. I think they'll all three get a chance to play. Ideally I think you'd like to settle on one of them. One of them is Jacob Esch who I think can help us pitching-wise too. Maybe when he pitches one of the other two guys gets a chance to play. I think we'll play all three and hopefully we'll decide by the time we start playing in the ACC."

You also seem to have some good options at the DH?

"Yeah, I think we'll have a lot of options there. You have Jake Davies. I think you could look at a Thomas Nichols or Pat Long or even (Jason) Garafalo. I think we definitely have some options that we can stick in there and that's good."

You mentioned you were going to work with Deck on some things in the winter. How did that go?

"I think the biggest thing is that he worked on his mental game more than anything. I think him and Coach (Tom) Kinkelar spent a lot of time in the bullpen about a month after fall baseball was over. Looking at his bullpens heading into this inter-squad game today he's thrown very well. Deck's been a great pitcher for us and I don't see that changing anytime soon."

What will it be like not playing Florida State?

"I don't like it. People have asked me that and I tell them that I wish we were playing them. I totally respect their program and Mike Martin. It's three great games for our fans, their fans, me, and our players. That being said, I won't shed any tears that we don't have to play them this year."

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