A Q&A With Chris Stratton

Mississippi State sophomore right-handed pitcher Chris Stratton talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

I heard you tell another media member that this year's pitching is light years ahead of last year's. Why do you think that?
"I think that due to everybody's willingness to help each other. I feel like that if one guy stumbles, then somebody is right there to guide him through whatever he needs. I felt like last year it almost got to the point where we were more individuals. This year it's like a team with the pitching."

I've around a lot of the pitchers when I'm attending the scrimmages. You guys seem to sincerely like each other. In my opinion, that's the kind of stuff that builds team chemistry. Am I right in saying that the team chemistry is really good on this team?
"Definitely. I feel like that helps you go further than you would solely with talent. Talent can only take you so far. If everybody is reaching for the same goal and they understand each other, I think that really helps."

Is part of that team chemistry due to some of the freshmen, such as Luis Pollorena, Victor Diaz and guys like that?
"Yeah, and Evan Mitchell. I don't know how to describe them. I guess they are just goofy (laugh). And the coaches have been a lot more lenient this year. We are always (trying to) getting better but we are having a lot more fun this year with it. It's just a more laid back atmosphere than it was last year."

According to MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson, he has his pitchers experiment in the fall. What were you experimenting with during the fall?
"Sometimes coach would have me go out there and throw two pitches instead of all three or four (of my pitches). He was just trying to get me to utilize the two pitches because there will be days when you go out and one (or two) of your pitches might not be there. He's just trying to make sure I can survive with those two by learning to pitch with them."

Excluding strikeouts and infield popups, the pitchers are generating 2.5 groundball outs to 1 flyball outs during the spring scrimmages. Is that due to the new bats or the pitchers keeping their pitches down in the strikezone?
"I think it's a little bit of both, but Coach Thompson really emphasizes filling up the strikezone. He felt we walked too many last year, which I think we did, too. I definitely have to cut my walks in half. A walk does no good, but if you make them put it in play they are only going to get a hit 3 out of 10 times, but the other seven will most likely be outs."

As a pitcher, what are your thoughts about this year's defense?
"I think our outfielders are unreal. I feel very confident that any flyball will be caught. And our infield is solid. They have more experience coming into the season and they know what to expect. As pitchers, it gives you a lot of confidence when you know your defense can work behind you."

Do you think this team is better than last year's team? If so, why do you feel that way?
"I think this team is different in (some) ways than it was last year. And I feel that, due to the team chemistry, we are going to be a lot better than we were last year."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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