Talk your season last year. You had a great year, maybe beyond your expectations for the first season.
"Yeah, it was an incredible ride. From Day-1 of the season to the last day of the season a lot of things happened. I started out not playing, then finished the season playing everyday. It was a blessing to be out there and playing everyday. To have the success that I had was humbling."
Then you went to the Northwoods summer league and had a solid season in that league. How did it come about that you played in that league?
"Early in the fall the players get with Coach Thompson and decide if they want to stay on-campus and take summer classes or go play during the summer. Playing summer ball was something that I wanted to do so we decided that I would go to St. Cloud in Minnesota in the Northwoods League. It was a 72-game season. You don't play everyday. They bring guys out that played an ample amount of games during their season. So, you might play four games in a row, then get an off-day. There was a lot of traveling, a lot of time on the bus."
That almost sounds like a minor league team schedule.
"Yeah, that's the key and why they play so many games. They want to show scouts how they do in similar settings to minor league baseball."
What were you trying to improve during summer league play?
"When I came to Mississippi State I learned to slow the game down. The talent level in the SEC is so high and the arms are so good that, as a hitter, you have to learn to slow the game down and stick to an approach that may not work every single time. But it is a long season. During summer ball the at-bats add up quick and you have to find ways to work through slumps and work through the hard times."
You aren't a big guy. Did you not wear down some due to the number of games that you played during the regular season then the summer season?
"Absolutely. At State I think I played around 60 games. Then, during the summer I played 50+ games. It's like a professional season. I think that is what is so important about the fall. You want to get your body and arm in shape in the fall so that you can be healthy for that long. I think one of the things that I learned this summer is it is a long season and your body starts to wear down and your batspeed starts slow down, your arm starts to get tired. If you are playing everyday you have to find ways to manage that. You have to manage your workouts and your extra hitting so that you will still be able to go out and perform at a high level."
Do you ever get the time where you can just relax and regroup?
"I had about a week before we came back to Mississippi State and another week before we started amping things up and getting going. I tried to rest during that time but that is tough for me. But it is something that your body needs to do. Plus, right now we aren't scrimmaging. We are just doing 4 on 1s (with the coaches) for 35 to 40 minutes. We also lift and condition three times a week. It's nice to have the weekends off. We are still getting work in but it's also time for guys to get some rest because it is a long season.
"That is one of the reasons that we start our scrimmages so late. We want to make sure everybody is healthy and able to play at their best ability when we start scrimmaging."
You went through the scrimmages last fall. How are you better prepared for them this fall?
"I had guys like Pirtle and Bradford who gave me an idea of what to expect. Now, I think that is more of my role with the new guys. I want to show them how things go and what to expect."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.