Around the Bases with Scott Forbes

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Assistant head coach Scott Forbes is in his fifth season as the Tar Heel pitching coach. Inside Carolina caught up with him to discuss the state of the UNC pitching staff, which has a 2.67 team ERA through the first seven games ...

Can you discuss Matt Harvey's performances so far this season?

"I thought last week was a huge first inning for Matt - getting out of that inning. I think that was the difference between Matt Harvey this year and last year mentally. I think he thought that he was going to get out of that inning. But also the difference in Matt is that last week I asked him after the game how he pitched and he stated, 'terrible.' In the past it was either his mechanics or he just realized that he has to improve every week. When you do that and you are mature enough to realize that and he has worked as hard as any pitcher of ours off the field - in the weight room, running and he has done that. I think that first game was just, 'I'm the Friday night guy, I have to go out there and be the guy,' instead of just going out there and doing what he had been doing all preseason - trusting his delivery and attacking the strike zone. I think he's throwing great, though. He added that slider I think that helped him too."

How has it has been getting acclimated to a new catcher in Jesse Wierzbicki?

"You know Jesse is an offensive catcher and he has really improved defensively. That is an adjustment as far as the communication with our pitchers, but Jesse to his credit has worked hard and we have tried to make him catch every pitcher on our staff in preseason and our pitchers are fine as long as the catcher is working hard and listening. The biggest adjustment is just me and him working together on why we are calling this pitch and why we are going to set up here - what we are going to try to do, how we are going to approach hitters and making sure that we are not tipping signs, things like that. But he is a hard worker and he caught on pretty quick."

What is the status of Bryant Gaines' recovery?

"He is doing well. He is not quite a year out and he could pitch in a game but we owe it to Bryant to get him in the best shape he can be in to make him successful. But his recovery is going well and he is able to pitch in a game but it is just a matter of getting him out there in a situation where he can ease his way into it."

What has it been like having Coach Fox in the dugout instead of coaching third base this season?

"It has not been that much different except that he is not out there giving the signs. It has been a little easier for me and him to communicate what we want to do pitching wise instead of me having to run out to the third base box and yell down or whatever. It makes it a little easier having him in there I think."

How do you call a game with Colin Bates as a starter as compared to how you called games with him as a reliever?

"About the same. Honestly Colin is a guy that is going to go after you - he is going to attack you. He is no different; he is a three pitch guy as a reliever. If you look at the way we used him as a reliever - he was in long relief - he was a rescuer. If a starter had a bad outing, most of the time - especially his freshman year here - he was in and pitched five innings. I don't think we call it that much different except in going through the lineup a couple more times so we may throw the slider a little more on both sides of the plate and just mixing pitches a little more than anything."

How has Patrick Johnson performed so far?

"I think Patrick is a guy that can strike a lot of people out. We always talk about that in the dugout - we don't know why but hitters chase his fastball up way more than they chase other pitchers that we have. He has a bulldog mentality. He has worked hard on his slider. Last week I thought it was not good at all and we made an adjustment there and I hope it will pay off. What we need to get from Patrick is kind of like [Adam] Warren as he got better - we need him to go deeper into games because he will go five innings and pitch great but we need to get him out because of his pitch count. So we need to get him where we can get six or seven innings..."

What has it been like trying to get all of the freshmen action in games in the early part of the regular season?

"You want to have a lot of good players and I feel like we have a decently deep staff. And obviously if you have a deep staff even with pitching everybody will not get the same amount of innings. But I would rather have a good deep staff than the other way. This is kind of like when Roy Williams would get the questions about how he was going to get everyone playing time with Ty Lawson and all those guys and he stated that he would rather have that problem - like we all would. I just tell those guys they just have to stay ready. Parker [Thomas] had not been in a game yet and to his credit he worked hard and stayed ready and my job is to put the guys out there that at the time deserve to be out there. They have taken well and I think that is a credit to our upperclassmen is the biggest thing I would put in there. Bates, Harvey, Gaines, Striz - those guys have helped those young pitchers and welcomed them and saying 'hey we need you to win' and show them how to work and things like that."

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