WATCH + READ: LSU players meet with media

LSU Baseball players met with the media day on Friday. Watch and read what they had to say.

Junior Pitcher Alex Lange

On what he has worked on during the offseason …

“I thought I had a bunch of stuff I could improve on. Fastball command is something I really wanted to focus on, just really emphasize on pitching inside and working on developing a changeup. Going in there, getting bigger, stronger and just prepare for this year—just be excited. It was a good offseason. I’m glad to be back, and I feel like we put a lot of good work in.”

“I tried to lean up a little bit, put on some muscle, and I think I did both things. Just give myself the best opportunity to be successful this year. It was a good offseason, like I said, but I think I really was able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. I’m looking forward to this year.”

On expectations for the season …

“For me, I’ll know it’s a good year when we’re on the plane coming back from Omaha June 27 with that trophy. That’s what this culture and this talent expects, and that’s what we expect. Obviously, you can’t make anything that you are going to guarantee or anything like that, but that’s what we strive for. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s the only goal that we have is to go out there and bring that national championship back to Baton Rouge.”

On mentally preparing for big games …

“Just remember that it’s a game, and it’s the same game that you have been playing since you were five years old, and it’s the same game that you were doing the first weekend against Air Force, and it’s the same … Every week gets bigger and bigger. Every week means more. Every week, there are more implications. SEC Tournament, Regionals … Every week just gets bigger. As the weeks go on you just settle into a groove and you continue to work and get lost in the season. That’s the fun part.”

On what makes this team “special” …

“We have so many guys coming back. That’s what has excited me is all the young guys that were too young last year, or whatever we were calling it. You’re another year older, you’re another year more mature and able to … You’ve been through everything and you’ve been through the experience. That’s what I’m excited for, is those guys to get out there and get in the groove and just go play.” 

On using last year’s Super Regional loss as motivation …

“Oh, man. I don’t know if we’re still over it. But that’s baseball. That was the best team in the country. They came in here and they showed us how they play ball. Obviously, that’s not the result we wanted. We wanted to go to Omaha just as bad as everyone else did, but that’s not what gets you there. You’ve got to go in there, you’ve got to execute. It’s something that still sticks with you, as well as losing to TCU in Omaha. It’s that feeling that you’re so close, you’ve worked so hard to get there and then it’s just taken away from you. That’s a feeling that we don’t want to have this year. We want to get to Omaha, and we don’t just want to get there; we want to win in Omaha. That’s our goal. It still sticks with you a little bit. It’s in the back of your mind, but you can’t dwell on it. It’s time to move forward and approach the 2017 season.”

On being part of a 1-2 punch with Jared Poche’ …

“I’ve been learning under that guy for a long time. He’s taught me a lot: how to pitch, how to be a man and how to handle the game and kind of step back and realize that it is just a game. It’s a lot of fun competing with him and having him right here with us. It’s been a blast being with him at LSU.”

On finding out Poche’ was coming back for his senior season …

“The day that he announced it, I think he texted me before he tweeted it out and let everybody know. I was overseas (with Team USA) at the time, and I was texting him at probably the wrong time. It was four o’clock over there and it was 4:00 a.m. over here, so he probably wasn’t too happy. I was checking in on him several times a week saying, ‘Hey man, praying for you. Hoping everything works out. Make the best decision for you.’

“Obviously, his goal is to play professional baseball, and I wanted him to have that more than anybody. But, if that’s coming back for your senior season and then … That’s kind of what I was telling him. Once he made that decision, I was the most fired-up probably ever because no one was expecting that. Everyone in the SEC is like, ‘Great. The guy has won 27 games, nine wins every year; he’s gone. Thank gosh’ No, he’s back. That’s what’s exciting. He’s got a chance to be the all-time wins leader, and that’s something that would be really special. I’m looking forward to seeing him go out there and compete.”

Senior Shortstop Kramer Robertson

On freshmen Josh Smith (3B) and Jake Slaughter (1B)

“They hit the ground running. They definitely are very talented, and we knew that coming in. I play next to Josh Smith, and I just think he’s so poised over there. I think that’s what’s been most impressive; the moment is not too big for him. He hasn’t actually played in a game yet, but he’s got a chance to be a special player. He’s got a lot of poise and he’s obviously very talented.

“Jake, he’s playing a new position, but another guy who is very talented. We just kind of threw them into the deep end; swim or drown. They’ve succeeded really well, and I think they’ll continue to have a lot of success and have great careers here.”

On helping Smith learn how to play third base …

“Since Day 1, I just kind of took him under my wing over there and really show him the way. He picked up on it really quickly. He’s a lot more polished than I was my freshman year, and I think he’s ready to go. That’s why Coach has already named him the guy over there at third base, and for good reason. He’s a great player, and I think he’s going to have all the confidence in the world. I don’t even look at him as a freshman. I don’t think the stage will be too big for him at all. Like I said, that’s what I’m most impressed with is just how calm and how poised he is over there.”

On coming back for his senior season, along with his teammates …

“I think we talked even before the draft. We had to do what was best for each one of us individually, but once Greg [Deichmann] announced that he was coming back, I was like, ‘Man, I kind of want to come back.’ So then I came back, and then Cole came back. We weren’t sure about Poche’, but I know I was calling him every single day. I was texting him every day telling him I want him back, and I think it’s best for him. Once we got all four of us back, there’s a lot to be excited about. We’ve been excited about this season since Poche’ said he was coming back, just to add along with the rest of this team.” 

On why he decided to come back …

“Omaha. That’s all I care about. That’s all I think about. We don’t want to talk about it too much now in January, but that’s the reason I came back: 100%.”

Sophomore OF 

On moving to center field from right field...

“I just have to take more charge out there. If I called a ball in the gaps, it’s my ball. I’m just more of leader out there than I am in right. In right, you’re kind of secluded, and if the center fielder wants it, he takes it. Other than that, it’s not too much of a difference except a couple of balls over my head and the ones to the left and right are going to play a little different. Other than that, not much.” 

On feeling comfortable in center field …

“My senior year and my junior year (of high school) and then all throughout when I was growing up, I played center. I would say it’s my more comfortable position because I get to run a little more; I get to use my speed. I don’t feel all bunched up out there in the corner. When I get towards the wall over there, it’s kind of rammed in there; I don’t get to use my legs as much.”

On having a lot of senior leadership on this team … 

http://www.scout.com/college/lsu/story/1749664-watch-lsu-s-paul-mainieri...“I think it’s going to be great. Last year, we had a younger team, and pretty much almost the exact same team this year, but just with a year of experience under our belt; for a few people, three to four years of experience. I think that’s going to be great. As it showed last year, the older teams seemed to win. [Texas] A&M had a great year, Coastal [Carolina] was pretty old, Florida was pretty old. I think a good veteran presence helps out.”

On developing from freshman to sophomore year …

“Just experience. I feel more comfortable. The pitching feels like it’s slowing down. The whole game feels like it’s slowing down. Other than that, I’m not trying to make any big changes technique-wise like hitting or playing the outfield or anything like that. I think as experience goes on, the game just slows down. It feels easier.”

Senior Pitcher Jared Poche (Video Below)

On possibly having the record for most wins by a pitcher in LSU history …

“That would be an unbelievable honor for me personally, but I don’t go out and win a game by myself. It took all nine guys out on the field each and every day for the last three years. The way I see it is that if I win 11 games (to tie the record) that means we’re having an unbelievable year, and that we’re going to win a lot of games. It’s going to be a fun ride.”

On his thoughts on this being his last first day to open the season…

“I’m just going to take it day-by-day and live in the moment and not let it speed up too fast. I want to enjoy every single day out here.  It’s been a fun ride, but we have a few more fun times ahead. Freshman year I was happy to be here, and now I’m just enjoying the moment and having fun with the guys.”

On if he feels like he has taken on more of a leadership role with the pitchers…

“I think so. I’ve been there and done that and those guys know that. I tell the new guys each and every day that when you get to the field, it’s not the time to clown around. It’s business and it’s time to go to work. You get better in between the lines, and when you’re away from the field you can joke around as much as you want. (But you have to) get your work in.”

Senior 2B Cole Freeman

On what the team’s approach will be with lofty preseason expectations…

“Honestly, nothing different compared to last year. We’re going to take it one game at a time. The most important game is that next game. We know there are a lot of expectations just coming in and putting on an LSU jersey. (You) just have to take it one game at a time and don’t think it’s too big of a situation.”

On his decision to come back for his senior season…

“It’s LSU. It’s a hard place to leave. I had the option of leaving, and we had the talk and the number it was going to take (to get me to leave). Honestly, it was going to take a lot for me to get pulled away from here, but I couldn’t be any more excited about being back for this year.”

On what he will take away from being a part of LSU baseball to take on in his next endeavor…

(I’ll remember) the team, coaching staff, the memories and the relationships I made. Even the guys who left last year like (OF) Jake Fraley and (RHP) Parker Bugg, that (relationship) is just something you don’t get. Especially in pro ball, there’s a lot of people moving around, and it’s more of a job. But by being around the team every day, every one of these kids are my brothers, and I would do anything for them. I think that’s the best thing. We leave the field, and I go chill with (RHP Alex) Lange until midnight, and then I wake up and have to go see him at 7:00 in the morning for weight training. It’s awesome, and I think that’s what I’ll probably miss most about it.”

Junior OF Greg Diechmann (Video Below)

On how long it took him to get comfortable making the transition from the infield to right field…

“On the first day out there, it kind of felt like this is my position. This is something I feel comfortable in. Obviously, I had to work at it and get as many reps as I can, seeing different balls. But this is the best I’ve felt on defense in a while.” 

On his initial reaction when Coach Paul Mainieri approached him about moving to right field…

“Going into the Cape Cod League, we had our exit meeting after the season ended, and coach (Mainieri) said ‘I think I want to try you in the outfield next year,’ so I got an outfield glove. He didn’t say I was going to play much outfield in the Cape, but he said during batting practice to try and get out there and get as many reads as you can and just see the flight of the ball. I did that as much as I could, and coming back here, I just stepped in in the fall and started playing in the scrimmages.”


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