Media Day: Mike Fox Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- With the start of the 2009 baseball season in the renovated Boshamer Stadium only a week away, head coach Mike Fox spoke to reporters Friday before the team's scrimmage.

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What's it like being back at the Bosh and how's your view from your office up there?

It's a pretty cool view, I have to admit. I can't describe it. I've walked on here every day more than once for the last year and a half and I've watched every bolt and seat put in here and it's still hard for me to believe. … I've watched them build it and I still can't believe it. The best part now is moving everything in and seeing it come to life. …

Is the hope that once Dustin Ackley's elbow has fully recovered he'll move to the outfield?

We have that option – and that's a good option for us to have. He's probably out best defensive outfielder. A lot of it will depend on what's happening with our team up until the time he's comfortable and ready to play the outfield and who else could fill different positions. I have to be careful about that. If things are on a good roll, I don't want to disrupt things. It's more of a team thing, but it's also an individual thing with Dusty because I'd like for him to play the outfield some for us – I think that'd help him.

What does he look like right now?

He looks good. I think by the middle of March he'll be able to throw from the outfield. He's doing it some now, but he's just being really cautious now. He's been cleared, he's gone through his whole throwing program. More than anything else I think it'll be the mental thing to get over.

Rob Wooten was the closer last year, but you used him in other roles, too. Talk about how this year's bullpen is shaping up –

Your bullpen is always extremely important. Those last two or three innings are when a lot of games are won or lost. Replacing Rob is going to be hard. We used him in a role last year that when we got to a critical point in the game … that's when we used him. I don't know if we have that scenario this year. Colin Bates is going to close for us the first weekend. I think he'll be the typical closer where if we have a lead in the last inning or two, we'll bring him in. Up until that point, we'll mix and match with Brian Moran, Ryan Leach, and Jimmy Messer is going to be in the mix. Our bullpen is going to be important for us. We don't have that true closer, but we didn't really have that last year either so that doesn't really concern me all that much.

How much more mature is Matt Harvey this year and how have you seen change since he got here?

180 degrees. He's not even the same person. It's amazing what a year of college has done for him. It's been fun to watch. Last fall I just don't think he was ready to be in college – I don't think he expected to be in college. Now if you ask him, I think he'd say he's happy as can be. … He's had the best semester he's had academically and he's really matured and I think you'll see a difference on the mound.

You've got the weekend rotation pretty set, but who's in the mix for the other starts?

Patrick Johnson and Bryant Gaines are going to be our 4/5 guys. Patrick has really improved from last year and Bryant has made a big jump and deserves to start some games for us.

Have you been playing Levi Michael at second base?

Levi has been all over the field. He's been at second, short, right field, left field. He's got some versatility. If we played tomorrow, he'd play second base for us … He had a first good scrimmage, and turned around a 90-plus mile per hour fastball off on one of our guys. That set a good tone for him.

Who are the senior leaders on this team?

Garrett Gore has been on the field for the last few years for us and Adam Warren, I don't know what else you can say about him – he's our best leader, best student on our team, hardest worker. We've got some great senior leaders here. You have to have it, I need it off the field, I need it in the dugout and this year we have it.

Do you have any thoughts on the new NCAA rules about celebrations and dogpiles?

The first clip I got of it showed us celebrating in Omaha after a home run. They used us as an example and that's the furthest thing from unsportsmanlike than you could possibly imagine. I don't understand it. If it becomes an issue, that's why you have an umpire crew. … The last thing we ever want to do is show up our opponent. … I don't agree with it at all, but we'll abide by it. … How do you tell your team not to get excited when a teammate hits a home run in the College World Series to win a game?


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