Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State standout Jack Kruger discusses his Bulldog experience to date.

Mississippi State junior Jack Kruger endeared himself to Bulldog fans early on by becoming the big threat in the batting order. The California native began the season as the designated hitter, but now completely healthy, Kruger has eaten up some innings behind the plate. A catcher by trade, Kruger is simply happy to help his team in any way possible.

With the physical ailments of the non-conference schedule now behind him, Kruger is enjoying the opportunity to be a key contributor to Bulldog baseball as the quest for a Top 8 National Seed continues.

"I feel good," Jack Kruger said. "Coming off of last weekend's series, I ended up catching three games last week. I don't really know that was going to be the case. It's really a day to day type of thing. At this point, I feel really good and I feel like I am where I need to be. As long as I stay on top of my rehab, I believe that will continue."

For a player who enjoys being involved in the action. Kruger believes that being able to stay in the flow of the game is much easier when hitters have the chance to play in the field on defense as well.

"DHing might be the toughest spot on the field and you're not even on the field that much," Kruger said with a smile. "You have an at bat every 45 minutes or so. You're just sitting there most of the time and then you have to go out there and face 92 (MPH).

"It's also nice being able to catch, so if you don't have a great day at the plate you still have another role that you can contribute. It's nice to be able to catch and help the team." 

For the first time in his baseball career, Kruger was unable to show the full complement of his talents due to injury. Dealing with some physical impairment was a new experience for the Orange Coast College (CA) product. 

"Going through all of that has given me a new appreciation for health and not just baseball," Kruger said. "I didn't have a very serious injury and I know there are other people who have a greater understanding of that than I do at a much greater depth. I know that I need to always have an appreciation for the health that I have now and I need to do whatever I can do to keep that going."

Through the first dozen games of the season, Kruger was hitting a blistering .511. As other teams began to scout against him, Kruger saw his average come down out of the clouds. The Bulldog back stop his hit in safely in five of the Bulldogs' last six SEC games and is now hitting at a solid .333 average.

"I feel good," Kruger said. "You want the results, but it's all about the process. I feel good, but everyday is not an attempt to have a great day for Jack Kruger. I just want us to get a 'W', so I am just trying to do whatever I can do to help the team win. If we get a 'W', then it's a good day."

In recent SEC contests, Kruger has found himself second in the Bulldog order behind freshman sensation Jake Mangum. The Calabasas, California native has seen his name in different spots on Coach John Cohen's line-up card throughout the season, but Kruger is simply elated to have the chance to swing for State.

"I like hitting early in the line-up," Kruger said with a grin. "It's fun to hit behind Mangum or Robby (Jacob Robson). We have a great group of guys and an incredible line-up. We are so deep that even outside of the nine we have in the line-up that we have some other guys who deserve to be in the line-up. 

"There just aren't enough slots to get everybody in that deserves it. I'm just happy when I have my opportunities. I enjoy hitting in the 2 hole, but I will hit wherever they want me. I just enjoy being a part of this talented line-up."

Kruger chose Mississippi State over several other options. One of the main reasons Starkville, Mississippi became his baseball home was the chance to play on the big stage in a baseball crazy town. It appears that the experience has more than measured up.

"It has exceeded my expectations especially in terms of fan base," Kruger said. "When I first came here they were telling me it was a baseball school. I didn't really believe them, because I didn't really know that existed.

"We're big on football. There is no doubt that the SEC is big on football, but I feel that this is a baseball school. The amount of fan support we have is incredible. Coming from a Pac-12 background and Pac-12 team (Oregon), I didn't see any of that kind of fan support anywhere in the Pac-12. You see it up and down the SEC, which is really incredible."

Playing in front of 15,000 plus at Dudy Noble field is one of the highlights of the season for Kruger. The talented junior also enjoys being able to share a bit of himself with the home crowd in the form of his walk-up song.

"My walk up is 'Eyes on Fire'. It was originally recorded by Blue Foundation, My version is Zed's Dead Remix," Kruger shared. "I like it, because it's chill. I like chill stuff. I can get hard core, but I like stuff that just has an edge to it.

"I like to play baseball with an edge and really a lot of things with an edge. There is a competitive side to me and I think that's true of everyone playing division one baseball. I feel like that comes through in the song. It gets me mentally prepared for what I have to do."

The Bulldog roster features players from nine states and locales as far away as Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Kruger believes that the collective experiences and diverse backgrounds of the Diamond Dawgs are some of the biggest strengths of the baseball program.

"It's really fun to play with a group of guys that are different," Kruger explained. "We have guys from the south, the west coast and all of the way in the east. There are a lot of different pieces, parts and personalities to it. That makes it a lot fun.

"You can have a lot of the guys on the team that have the same personality. It's not bad thing, but I like that we have some diversity. I think one of the reasons we do well is that we have some different pieces of the puzzle."

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