Monday with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday, following UNC's series victory over the Seton Hall. The Tar Heels are 6-1 heading into mid-week games against Charlotte and Davidson, followed by a weekend series against Stony Brook.

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What were you impressions of the weekend series against Seton Hall?
"It was a good series at home and we thought that Boshamer Stadium looked the best that it has ever looked. We had good weather and we played well and we were disappointed that we did not get the game on Sunday, but I thought we pitched exceptionally well all weekend and gave ourselves a chance to win. All in all we are off to a good start and I was pretty pleased with the weekend. Seton Hall came down with a good club -- better then they have had in the past -- and so it was a good test for us and we are glad to have won the series."

Can you discuss the background of the selection and design of the Carolina Blue ‘retro' jerseys that the team wore for the first time this Sunday?
"That is something that we kind of thought about a little bit. We get an option every year of a new uniform, whether we want to go in or get a new design. I guess we probably just were looking at some of the Major League teams and we went to a throwback Royals uniform and thought let's just get a sample and then see what it looks like. We liked the jersey and the Royals were nice enough to send us one of their jerseys and so we had a perfect example of what we wanted and then we matched the pant with it and our players liked it. We threw in the navy socks and hat. It did not bode too well for us yesterday and I don't know how superstitious our players are going to be with it, but I thought they looked good and our players liked it."

Jacob Stallings has come a long ways from when he arrived in Chapel Hill. What has been behind that progression?
"Jacob has improved tremendously with a lot of hard work on his part in the weight room - he has gotten stronger and put on a lot of good weight. He has really, really worked and always had skill defensively. Obviously as tall as he is he has great flexibility back there and handles our pitchers well. Very smart and his arm is really his best tool back there and his strength is catching. He is a really good hitter and he moves the ball. He has a good idea of the strike zone and is very smart and knows what he is capable of doing and how he can help our team win. It has been a lot of fun seeing Jacob improve into the player that he is today."

With the NCAA restrictions on practice time how does the team use technology to maximize practice productivity?
"Once the season gets here, we give the guys an off day and we play two games a week and then we have one day of practice. We have an unbelievable video system here at Boshamer where we video every pitch and every swing. Our players can literally go online tonight after a game and pull up all their swings or pitches from that day and look at it themselves and we will work with some hitters and Coach Forbes usually obviously will work with some pitchers and we will work with it on scouting reports as well. We will video the game on Friday and we are videoing our pitcher as well as videoing our opponents hitters. So we will get a chance to look over them over the weekend and see if we need to attack them any differently on Saturday or Sunday. Technology has just improved the strategy and there is a lot you can do now by video and online and there are all sorts of statistics available to our players and they can look at their swings literally an hour after we upload the [day's game] onto the web site. We use technology quite a bit in this program."

A lot of Diamond Heel fans are not as familiar with Stony Brook - the reigning America East Champions- as the mid-week opponents in Charlotte and Davidson. Can you give your early scouting report on the Seawolves from New York?
"Well right now we are focused on Charlotte and Davidson on Tuesday and Wednesday. Stony Brook is a very, very good club and very well coached. They knocked NC State out of the regional last year and they have always had some good arms and the young man they throw against us on Friday will be as good as we will have faced. They have gotten off to a good start and we will have our hands full with them just like we will tomorrow against Charlotte."

Do you and Coach Forbes have the mid-week starters lined up for this week already?
"Kent Emanuel is throwing tomorrow and right now it looks like Cody Stiles will start for us on Wednesday and we will probably staff day that to get a lot of guys out on the mound."

Freshmen Parks Jordan and Brian Holberton have shown their versatility already this season …
"Both of those young men will be in the mix for us. Parks played some games in California. We have had him really all over the field, the outfield, second and first because we are so thin with our position players - especially with Matt Roberts hurt and not available yet. We will do the same thing with Brian Holberton. He came into our program as a catcher but we have him in the outfield some and second base and at short. I thought Brian had some good at bats this weekend and was one of our best freshmen hitters in the fall and we need to get him back in there some. But, both of those guys have done what we asked and moved all over the field but at some point - and it may not be this year but in the future - we need to settle on their best defensive position and kind of leave them there so they can show some improvement. Right now it is just the situation we are in with only having 12 healthy hitters they need to play all over the field for us."

What improvement have you seen from Michael Morin with his sophomore season now underway? Obviously early in the season you have to discount some of the statistics, especially with his inherited runners scoring inflating his earned run …
"You can‘t go off statistics after one outing. We misjudged two fly balls in his start in California that we should have caught and that shows obviously on the pitchers statistics when you don‘t do that. But, we thought he pitched well in California and I thought he was exceptional yesterday. Between him and Greg Holt anytime you only give up five hits and only walk two batters you should have a chance to win the game. Michael has always been a big time competitor and he has improved and he works extremely hard and of course he had some big strike-outs when he needed to yesterday and we have seen that in Michael and we like him on the mound for us. He throws strikes and that change-up neutralizes those left handed hitters. He was a tough luck loser yesterday for sure."

When do you anticipate Matt Roberts will be able to get on the field?
"That is a good question. Slowly working his way back. He got cleared about three days ago. But cleared with a broken hand in baseball does not mean that you can pick up a bat and start swinging it and that you all the sudden 100 percent. There is some tenderness in there and so he is just slowly beginning to hit the ball of the tee and being able to catch a little bit and take the force of the ball on that hand [with the catchers mitt]. We hope he is going to be ready for this weekend but we have to go by what Matt tells us right now and what the trainers tell us. The doctors have cleared him in terms of that the bone is healed but still there is that time period of adjustment of getting past with the tenderness and the soreness and it is a little bit of the mental thing as well to be able to let the bat go and not feel like you will do further damage. Matt is working hard with our trainers and we hope he will be back sooner rather than later."

And what is the status of Zach Bernard, as he has not had a pitching appearance yet?
"He is healthy. The other lefties are just ahead of him right now and there are some other guys that we have not been able to give the innings we would have wanted. Obviously we are early in our season and Zach has been behind a little bit. We have more lefties on our team this year. He is behind Tate Parrish and R.C. Orlan right now and we have Hobbs Johnson who we need to get into a game right now. These guys are battling for innings and that is the nature of it when you have a big staff like we have right now."

How do you and Coach Forbes keep the pitchers sharp during the season if they don't get appearances?
"That is always a challenge once the season starts. If guys don't get into the game we have to keep them sharp and obviously they throw bullpens. We had last week a whole week without playing so Wednesday we had four of our pitchers throw live to the hitters and guys who did not get into the game or pitch much in California we had them throw to hitters. Now that we are playing two games a week we can't do that. Monday being our off day we can't work with our players so Thursday is our practice day this week. So they have to go down there and get their bullpen on their own. Coach Forbes will send an email to all the pitchers and then of course I do as well and I work with one of them each day and there is a plan for all of them."


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