Monday with Mike Fox

After a rollercoaster week that featured both thrilling wins and a couple of losses, the Tar Heels remained at No. 5 in the Baseball America Top 25. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

Week in Review
Tue. 3/24 - UNC 8, UNCW 1
Wed. 3/25 - Charlotte 2, UNC 1
Fri. 3/27 - UNC 4, UVa 3
Sat. 3/28 - UVa 5, UNC 2
Sun. 3/29 - UNC 6, UVa 5

North Carolina won its weekend series against No. 8 Virginia behind late-inning heroics and stellar relief pitching after splitting the mid-week slate - defeating No. 26 UNC-Wilmington and losing the next day to Charlotte.

Brian Moran came to the rescue for the Tar Heels in the rubber match in the Cavaliers series, pitching a career high 6.1 innings with an efficient 94 pitch count. The only runs he gave up were at the end of his marathon stint coming out of the bullpen on a home run by UVa right fielder Dan Grovatt.

Matt Harvey seemed to get back on track in the ninth inning against the Seahawks after struggling the previous weekend against Duke, however his control issues returned in the Sunday finale against UVa, walking four Wahoos while allowing three hits - and hit the first batter and last batter in his two-inning outing.

Garrett Gore was moved into the second slot in the batting order, moving freshman second baseman Levi Michael to the cleanup slot in the Sunday game. This maneuver by head coach Mike Fox will keep the left-right balance and is aimed to keep opposing pitchers from keying on Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, while allowing Gore an opportunity to work on moving leadoff hitter Ben Bunting on the bases.

The Tar Heels take on regional non-conference opponents this week and then head to Atlanta to face No. 3-ranked Georgia Tech, which just defeated No. 2 Miami over the weekend. The Yellow Jackets clubbed nine home runs against Miami pitching. It was Miami's first ACC series loss since last season against UNC.

This Week's Schedule
Tue. 3/31 - Davidson - 6 pm
Wed. 4/1 - Old Dominion - 6 pm
Fri. 4/3 - at Georgia Tech - 7 pm
Sat. 4/4 - at Georgia Tech - 3 pm
Sun. 4/5 - at Georgia Tech - 1 pm

Can you give me your impression of the weekend series with the Cavaliers?

It was three really good baseball games. We feel very good about winning the series against a very good Virginia team. I was proud of my team, coming back and finding a way to win on Sunday. We battled the weather and battled a good Virginia team and played well - it was a great series win for us really.

Talk about the decision to move Garrett Gore into the two hole in the batting order and sandwiching Levi Michael between Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager in the cleanup position?
It is just one of those things where I just felt like I needed to do a little something different with the lineup - we have not had the greatest week offensively this week. I felt like I needed to get somebody in between Kyle and Dusty, preferably obviously a right handed hitter and with Levi being able to switch it gives us some options there and makes it a little bit more difficult on the opposing team to match up with us pitching wise. Garrett has been in the two hole before and he has not been striking out a whole lot. So with Ben Bunting we wanted a couple of guys up there to move the ball. It was kind of a subtle change in the lineup that appeared to work for us yesterday...

What do you think about Garrett Gore's approach at the plate - will this move give him more to do at the plate as far as hitting behind the runner, bunting and taking pitches?
I think Garrett is smart and he knows what he needs to do in certain situations. I think perhaps he was trying to do a little too much there in the five hole. He needs to stay within himself and do what he is capable of doing the best. Maybe this will help in that regard, being a situational hitter in the two hole, and we asked him to look at the push bunt yesterday. We will probably stick with this lineup at least the next couple of days and see how it goes.

Can you discuss Brian Moran's relief appearance on Sunday?
It was outstanding. We asked a lot out of Brian yesterday - we may have extended him a little too far in the ninth inning. But when you have a pitcher of that caliber just throwing strikes you get comfortable with that. His numbers so far this year - 42 strikeouts to 2 walks - that is just phenomenal. When you make the other team swing the bat you have a chance. I can not say enough, he saved the day for us obviously along with Garrett's catch in right field to start the ninth.

Have you given any thought to stretching out Moran to be able to use him as a starting pitcher?
No, we like him out of the bullpen. It might have been discussed maybe briefly during our coaches meetings. We like having the option of bringing him out of the bullpen, using him in any situation. Like yesterday bringing him in early in the beginning, at the end of the game, or later to match up with lefties. We like having that flexibility coming out of the bullpen, at least right now.

What are your thoughts on Garrett Davis' workload so far and his progress on getting back on track after his rehabilitation from his injury last season?
We need to get him some more [work] - we are considering starting him tomorrow against Davidson. I think that is the route that we will go. I think it is time for him; we really tried to bring him along slowly this first month or so, just being as protective as we can, but he told us the other day he is ready to go. He feels good and mentally he is ready to go and he is ready to cut it loose. I think he touched 93 a couple of times the other day, which is a great sign for us that his velocity is up. We need to get him in the mix more and get him some more innings and I think the more he throws the better he will be.

After the appearance in the UNC-W game it looked like Matt Harvey had fixed his mechanical problems that surfaced in the Duke game, however yesterday it appeared as though they resurfaced.
think that Matt was so excited to pitch yesterday and he might have gotten a little over-anxious. When Matt does not stay on a line there on the mound and starts throwing across his body it affects his delivery and then of course his control and command. I think that is what happened a little bit yesterday. He really has to work with that big long body that he has to stay on line and keep that same delivery and same release point - and that got a little out of whack a little bit yesterday. Matt is going to be fine, we have great confidence in him. He will recover and he is going to win some games for us down the stretch we have no doubt. He was more disappointed yesterday from the team standpoint than anything else. Hhe did not want to let our team down. He is a team guy and he will be fine.

Next weekend you all are heading to No. 3 Georgia Tech, who just defeated No. 2 Miami this past weekend in a series in Coral Gables. How do you keep the team from looking past Davidson and Old Dominion this week?
They better not after what we did against Charlotte - we just completely laid an egg in that game. I told them if they ever do that again and don't show up we will move back over to Kenan Stadium and that is exactly what we are going to do if they don't show up tomorrow night. They know it, too. We will not have another game during the mid-week that we are not ready to play - that will be totally unacceptable.

Who do you expect to start against Old Dominion on Wednesday?
Probably Bryant Gaines right now...

What will Patrick Johnson's role be in that case?
Patrick will be in relief. We like having P.J. in relief for us and I am sure he will get some innings in relief in that role on Tuesday or Wednesday in that role. We will have Garrett Davis on a pitch count on Tuesday, so you will likely see Patrick Johnson coming out of the pen on Tuesday and will have him available for the weekend.

So far this season Alex White has surpassed the number of home runs that he allowed all season last year. Do you feel that this is a case of the batters taking advantage of mistakes or is it more related to the move back to the Bosh from the USA Baseball Training Facility?
It is a combination of all of that probably. I do not put a whole lot of stock in that, it is more when those home runs are hit than anything else and what the situation is. You have to look at when they were given up and to whom. Obviously the ball gets out of this park more easily than they do over there. But I am not really concerned that much. I think people want to make a big deal about our opposition home run - obviously you don't want to give up home runs - but it happens in this game. I mean these kids are good and with aluminum bats if you make a mistake and they hit the ball in the air, the ball has a chance to get out of the ballpark. Fortunately we have hit our share as well as of late. I thought Alex had his best outing against Virginia Friday and gave us a chance to win the game. I thought he really pitched on Friday.

Is there any progress on Dustin Ackley's move to the outfield?
Well, not really. He is just continuing with his throwing and we have had him out there some in practice and in pre-game taking balls off the bat. He has played so well over there at first base, it is something that we have not given a lot of thought to, honestly.

His fielding has been very impressive especially considering that he is a right handed first baseman able to handle all sorts of throws around the bag
He has done very well over there. We think first base is a very important defensive position, I think other programs may not have that thought, that you can just put anyone over there who can hit. We do not have that assumption here, we did not have any errors at all over this weekend and we had our best week defensively other than Ryan Graepel making a couple of errors at short earlier in the week. We played spectacular defense and I think that is the key for us winning.

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