Media Day: Player Interviews

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina talked to six players on Friday to discuss the start of the 2009 baseball season. The opener is next Friday against VMI.

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DUSTIN ACKLEY

What's it like now being back at the Bosh?

It's nice, just the fact that we didn't have to drive an extra 30 minutes to practice every day – that took a toll on your time and your schedule. That's the biggest thing.

What do you think of the new place?

It's unbelievable. Sometimes I sit out on the infield and remember the old Bosh and it's 100 times different. The surface, the bleachers – it's amazing. … I'm just real happy to play at least one year here, maybe two. I'm just excited being here.

Can you talk about how your arm is coming along?

I throw normally. I'm not 100 percent to throw from the outfield as hard as I can. It'll probably be another 3-4 weeks until they release me to throw from the outfield and do things like that. … I thought there might be some time for me to adjust, but once my arm got healthy, the stuff grew back together right and it wasn't that hard to get back into the swing of things.

Next Friday, are you going to be in the infield?

I'll be able to play infield. I'm back to the point now where I can make throws from anywhere in the infield and get it to any base. It's just the fact that I can't make a long throw from the outfield.

Do you feel comfortable back at the plate?

I missed the whole fall, I missed all those at bats, but I haven't missed any in the spring, so hopefully I'll be all right. I really don't feel any different [at the plate]. I thought, getting the surgery, I'd feel different, but it hasn't affected swinging at all.

ADAM WARREN

How important do you think it'll be for you to be a strong senior leader for the team this year?

This team is so mature, we don't need someone to lead – we've got a bunch of guys who have been here before, so they know what to do. We're not going to need to push guys because they know what it's like to go to Omaha.

As a senior, you have the chance to go to Omaha every year …

It's not really pressure – it's more motivation. I've been there three years and I don't want to go out my senior year without making to Omaha. We want to make it back and that's what is driving us to work hard and win every game.

What's it like coming back to the Bosh, having played in such a cavernous stadium in Cary last season?

There will definitely be more home runs this year, but as a pitching staff we can't change our approach from one year to the next. We have good enough arms that we're not going to worry about the park – we're just going to pitch to our strengths and if a few balls do go out, they go out. But it's not going to bother us.

Read that on the first day of practice they said they were driving you to Cary, but brought you here …

Yeah, there was kind of a leak of information, so we knew when we got on the van we were coming here. We played along …

GARRETT GORE

What's it mean to you as a senior to get to come back here to the renovated stadium?

It's pretty cool. My uncle was one of the first players to play in the old Bosh and I'm going to be one of the first to play in this Bosh. It's been cool to see the place change and it's really special to get to see the baseball program get to this point.

How comfortable are you being back at second base and in the outfield as well?

I feel really comfortable at second base – that's kind of like my home. In the outfield I feel I can play pretty well out there. Confidence-wise I feel really good this year. Getting back to second base – if I'm there – is definitely nice. Last year I just had to do what was best for the team.

Do you think it'll be important to get off to a hot start with your bat this season?

I think my role has changed last year. I need to be more of an offensive player, but for the most part I don't put any pressure on myself. I need to just go out there and have fun.

How much of an impact do you think the freshmen are going to have on this team?

A couple of them are really going to be a huge factor, especially Levi Michael – he's a pretty special player. He's going to have to play a big role and I feel like he's up to it.

You ready for the season to start?

I'm so ready for it. The only thing is once it starts, it's going to go by so fast for me, being my last season it's something I don't want to see go.

RYAN GRAEPEL

How do you feel about your team this year?

I'll tell you what - I think we've got a really talented group of guys. If we can put things together the way we have in the past, I think we have a chance to get back to Omaha and being really successful once we're there. The pitching staff is incredible as usual, we're going to be really strong on defense and I think it'll come down to our bats. If we have guys step up and swing the bat, we'll have a real successful season.

At the plate you seemed to struggle out of the gate last season, but seemed to get into a rhythm as you got more playing time …

I felt like I was getting a lot more comfortable the more at bats I got. That's the way I've kind of always been in my career. If I'm getting a lot of at bats, I'm going to be swinging better. The more swings I get, the better I am at the plate. Hopefully if I can get some more consistent at bats, it'll be more like it was later in the season last year.

What are your thoughts on being in the new stadium?

I don't think it's really sunk in yet. When we get here on the 20th I think it'll sink in how lucky we are to be here. We haven't really been inside either, down low in the clubhouse and everything. Once we get in there, I think we'll really see how sweet it is.

MIKE CAVASINNI

What's it been like transitioning to the new stadium?

The last time I fully played a season we were at the old Bosh. I'll have two more years at this new Bosh. Seeing everything get put up has been phenomenal, and people are talking around campus about it and getting excited to come to games. It makes you want next Friday to come even sooner.

After missing last year, how eager are you to start the season?

I've been counting down to this day since I tore my ACL. I had two injuries that came up on me so I want to go out and enjoy every day.

What are your impressions of the pitching staff?

Since day one that we've been out here, they've been dominating us. They come out every day and it seems like none of them – from our No. 1 to our last pitcher – take a day off and can strike you out with their best pitch. It helps us out the best because we get to see the best pitching staff in the nation against us every day. For me, it's helped me to get back into the swing of things.

As someone who is known for his speed on the base paths, who do you think is the fastest player on the team?

The fastest is definitely Dusty, going from home to first he has that swing that gets him out of the box and flies down to first. On the base paths he has that baserunning mentality where he has no fear and knows he can steal that bag.

JIMMY MESSER

What's the adjustment to college ball been like for you?

It's a big adjustment. Things are a lot faster in college – in high school you have that time after school where you can just hang out. Here it's all back to back to back. But I kind of like it that way. It keeps you on your toes. I'm definitely looking forward to the season.

How are the coaches preparing you for your role?

I haven't been told anything – it's all up to them. If I get in there, great, but if I don't I'll be out there rooting the team on. That's how I look at it. If I don't get to play I'll be giving these guys support. As far as playing time, it's up in the air and we'll see as time goes on.

What's it been like working with Coach Forbes and along side some of these highly touted pitchers?

It's so great seeing Alex White, Colin Bates, Matt Harvey – it's so great to be around those guys because they're always giving me help. If I need help, I can always go to them. Coach Forbes knows his stuff – that's why he got Pitching Coach of the Year. He's always giving me new information to help me out on the mound.


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