Jim Morris Q&A - Part I

Jim Morris enters his 11th season as the head coach of the Hurricane baseball team. This year's squad has high expectations after returning all of the starters from a team that finished fifth place at the College World Series last season. In part one of a two-part interview Morris talked about the injuries to key players and freshman pitcher Cesar Carrillo.

How is pitcher Dan Touchet coming along and where do you see him fitting in?

Dan Touchet is pitching with no pain, which is huge. He is not back to where he was, but he will be soon. He has been pitching in intrasquad games. He does not quite have the velocity that he's had, but he's had good velocity and a good breaking ball. He will be back totally in March or April, but will pitch in February. Time will tell on if he will be a starter. We have four guys that will be starters for us. Touchet was our best pitcher last year when we lost him. In February he came to us and said he couldn't pitch anymore which was different. He had never came to us and said he was pitching with pain. Some players hide that because they want to play.

You have had good teams in the past that haven't had a good run in the postseason, are you worried about that with this team?

I don't think we are that good, personally. I think we have a very good solid team. I think the team aspect is what makes our team good. We don't have individuals. That has been what makes Miami good in the past years. The fact is that we have a lot of different players that put the team first and win as a team. We don't have any first-rounders. Nobody is going in the first round this year, I can tell you that. You make look at Rice and they have three pitchers going in the first round. Our guys will work hard on the fundamentals and that will give us a chance to win.

What is the centerfield position looking like this year with the injury to Danny Figueroa?

Danny is probably out until sometime in April or May. Now with the College World Series moved back to the end of June, it gives him more time. You would think Brian Barton would be the guy to fill in along with Richard Giannotti. Brian has been hampered a bit this spring and so has Giannotti. My plan is to start Paco Figueroa in centerfield. He is doing good. He can really run and gets a good jump on the ball. I would say he was the MVP of the batters, along with Joey Hooft, and is doing well this spring. He is doing well and deserves to be in the lineup.

What kind of adjustment will that be for Paco Figueroa moving from shortstop to centerfield?

I don't think it is as big of a deal as people think. If you can run and throw the ball, then you can play centerfield. Gino DiMare is working with him a lot right now. He can be as good as centerfielder as we have. I think he just has to read the ball off the bat and then run after it. It is not like leftfield or rightfield where the ball curves on you. He has played a lot out there this spring so he has got used to the position.

What are your thoughts on Ryan Braun potentially being a 20 homerun/20 stolen base guy?

I don't really know. He ran a 6.6 60 in the fall and has outstanding speed. He is also a big guy. He weighs about 203 or 204. He is a guy that can run and throw. He will be on his own on the bases. He was just released to go full-speed on February 1 after having problems with his elbow. The intrasquad game that we have tomorrow will really be the first time he will be playing. He has to get ready quickly. But he might be able to achieve the 20/20 mark. He will steal 20 bases and we all know that he can hit 20 homeruns.

How is Brian Barton recovering from his arm injury?

To be honest, he has missed a lot of practices this spring. He is an aerospace engineer major and his schedule is killing practices. He has to leave early and he comes late, its tough. He hasn't been able to play very much. He didn't play this summer because of the injury. He is a little bit behind.

How is Richard Giannotti recovering from his injuries?

He is pretty close to full speed. He had surgery this summer so he didn't play in the summer. And he had a hamstring pull this fall. He just has to get healthy. He is slated to start at left field for the opener unless I change my mind.

How is starting rotation looking?

No one has taken control of being the number one guy. J.D. Cockroft had a great year last year, but he has struggled in the fall and spring a little bit getting ahead of hitters. Vince Bongiovanni has been great a couple times, but didn't throw great the next time. Brandon Camardese threw really great two or three times, but struggled the next time with his consistency. I don't really know who is one, two, and three guys are, but those guys will be our starters for the opening weekend. None of them will pitch Saturday in the Alumni game because they will pitch five innings on Friday to get ready for the season the next weekend.

What kind of year are you expecting from redshirt freshman pitcher Cesar Carrillo?

Cesar has the best stuff on our staff. He can do anything we need him to do. He wants to start and he could start. He could be our ace and he could be our closer as well. He has great stuff. He throws over 90 miles per hour. You hear that a lot, but he throws over 90 every time he steps on the mound. He has an outstanding breaking ball and he throws strikes. You ask our hitters who the most intimidating guy on our staff is, they will tell you Cesar.

How is Cesar's mentality as a young player?

That's the only thing, he hasn't pitched much. He is a young player and hasn't pitched much. He is confident in himself so I think he can overcome that stuff pretty quick. He had to sit out the entire year last year, but the experience of pitching during intrasquad games has helped him. I don't consider him a freshman and I don't think he considers himself one either.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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