Around the Bases with Colin Bates

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina was able to catch up with Tar Heel pitcher Colin Bates during fall practice.

The redshirt junior right hander from Naperville, Ill. is expected to transition into the rotation this season after closing last season. He is projected to start Game 2 of the Fall World Series this week for the White squad. Last season he amassed a 4-4 record with a 3.15 ERA to go with six saves.

What went into your decision to return to North Carolina after being drafted by the Oakland Athletics last summer?
"It really was not a tough decision. I am on pace to graduate right now, which is something that I value far and above anything else. To me, getting a degree from here exceeds everything else to me. That is where I am at right now. The Athletics did not really approach me that much since that is what I told them as well - that I wanted to graduate and have a chance at being a starter, and if they wanted to pick me up next season to go for it."

Can you discuss the way that the coaching staff has been preparing you for the coming season?
"I have been taking it slow right now - not throwing too many innings. But it is just working me into the starter role and seeing how that works out. I have done that every fall since I have been here and I am hoping that this is my year to start. Whatever they tell me to do is what I am going to do."

Can you discuss the three catchers on the roster that you've been working with - May, Wierzbicki and Stallings?
"I think they are all very good catchers. They are all very good defensive catchers, which is our main focus - blocking balls and limiting the running game and stuff like that. Everybody is going to hit and have their hot streaks because they would not be here if they could not hit. I don't know who is ahead right now but it is going to be a good competition."

What have you been working on this fall heading into the Fall World Series and preparing for the coming season?
"I've been resting. That is what I have done this summer - I've rested my arm. This could be my last year here so I'm trying not to let it go by too fast and enjoying it before it slips away."

What pitches have you and Coach Forbes been working on in preparing to be a starting pitcher?
"I would say my change up will have to have a bigger role for me. Hopefully if that is my role then I will be facing more lefties, instead of last year where I would face the good right handed batters with my role - I will have to see [the opposing team's lineup from] 1 to 9. It is not something that I will have to throw as much to righties as much as lefties to keep them off balance."

How competitive has fall practice been with starting positions open from last season at catcher, first base, third base and right field?
"That is what makes it fun. There is competition all over the place - everybody knows that nothing is given. Even the returners - there is not a whole lot of guarantees. That is what the fall is for and Coach Fox loves it and I think it gets the best out of us."

What personal and team goals do you have for the team this season?
"I want to win a national championship. That is what we are all here for - it exceeds every other goal that I have got."

What has it been like to come out to the Bosh and see this renovation project continue with all of the little details that are getting added heading into the season?
"It is unbelievable. We probably took it for granted a little bit having a stadium on campus - at least I did - but after going to Cary for a year and a half with van rides back and forth, I try my best not to take this for granted. It is the best facility you can imagine and it is more than advertised."

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