Monday with Mike Fox

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- The Tar Heels dropped to 12-4 after losing the weekend series to Duke. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

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Can you give your impressions from the hard fought weekend series against Duke?

"We are certainly disappointed not to win the series after winning on Friday. I thought Duke played exceptionally well against us. Certainly there were a lot of runs scored by both teams which I don't think any of us anticipated would be the case. But certainly we would have liked to have had some of those runs from Friday on Saturday and Sunday. You know it is just a difficult weekend in the ACC - you have to put all three phases of the game together and we just did not do that. We had our chance to win yesterday and they made some big swings of the bat and some big pitches late in the game and we didn't and that was the difference in Sunday's game and ultimately the difference in the series."

What did you think of the fan support at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for this first ACC series?

"You know, quite honestly, I don't pay a lot of attention to that. Sometimes I have to get home and ask my wife, 'How was the crowd?' I know it seemed to me that we had a lot more fans then they did, which was exciting. It was a tough environment over there with all the construction. Honestly, it was a little disappointing that they were doing work over there while the game was going on and the smell from whatever they were doing to seal the concourse over there was difficult for the fans to have to endure. Obviously it is a beautiful place to play - I am sure that Sean [McNally] and Duke did not know that that would be happening over there, but it is what it is and it is a nice play to play. It is obviously a beautiful ballpark and the grounds crew did an exceptional job getting everything ready with the rain and getting the tarp on and off - but I thought we drew very well. It is a credit to our fans and we appreciate it and we certainly appreciate all of the support."

There were seven Tar Heel batters hit by pitches in the series, while Duke had three batters hit by a pitch - batters were right over the plate. How do you approach as a coaching staff being able to work both inside and outside of the plate?

"You have to pitch in to Duke. They are a difficult team to pitch to. You are exactly right, they all get on top of the plate and a few of them kind of dive in. They are not afraid to get hit by pitches. Probably [Ryan] McCurdy is a good example of that in their No. 9 guy - I think he has only one strikeout all year and he puts the ball in play. That is the way they are taught to hit - if you can't throw into them and let them know you are going to establish the inner third of the plate, they have the advantage. When you have young pitchers and they haven't been used to having to pitch inside in high school it is something they have to continue to work out and they have to have no fear about hitting the batter. We tell our guys, 'You've got to miss in. You cannot miss over the plate.' If you miss in and hit a guy - that is just what happens. It takes locating your fastball, which is the one thing we did not do this past weekend."

Colin Bates had the most effective start of the weekend rotation - what was it about his performance on the mound that was different from Matt Harvey or Patrick Johnson earlier in the weekend?

"Location - no question about it. Location. He could throw his fastball to both sides of the plate and that sets up his breaking ball. When guys are guessing a little bit, that it is going to be a breaking ball and you can throw a fastball on the black on the outside and kind of freeze guys if they are sitting for something soft and you throw them something hard in the right location. You have a chance to get hitters out and Colin did that more effectively than the other guys."

How has Levi Michael adjusted to third base?

"We talked with Levi early in the fall about what we were anticipating and certainly encouraged him to really try to become the best third baseman he could become and he had all the attributes to be a really good one and to embrace the position. I think he has done that. He takes a great deal of pride in his performance and the way he plays. He has a chance to be really good over there, but he is still learning how to play the position - it is a big adjustment from second to third. Offensively I thought Levi swung the bat probably as well as he has all year over at Duke. Probably his biggest attribute so far this season he has been being very patient. His on base percentage is around .535 or something crazy - he has walked a lot and his walk-to-strikeout ratio (18/6) is incredible. He has not been pitched to a lot this season and he has been very patient and drawn his walks. I don't think he has swung the bat as well as he probably would have liked to and I think he will as the season goes on. He is a hard worker and a big part of our offense. I am sure he will perform very well down the stretch."

Freshmen southpaw hurlers R.C. Orlan and Zach Bernard have both gotten their fair share of work so far this season. Where are they at in their development?

"We think both of those young men are going to be good for us and obviously they are our only lefties and they are freshmen so they are learning every time they go out there. I thought R.C. was very aggressive when he came in the game. His fastball command need improvement, but he is fearless out there and he attacked hitters and made them swing the bat, which is the most important thing. He also needs to work on holding runners and those two things are something a lot of freshman pitchers have to work on. I really liked the way Zach attacked the mitt when he pitched the last week. He has lost a little bit of confidence in his breaking ball - which he has got to get back because lefties have to have a good breaking ball to be effective - but Zach has a good change up which neutralizes right handed hitters sometimes. Both are really, really hard workers and a big part of our future."

Duke has seven two-way players, while you have two in Greg Holt and Jacob Stallings. Is it important to have effective two-way players in light of the roster limit and the scholarship percentage minimum?

"It is important. I think Duke has probably one of the smaller teams - numbers wise. I didn't really count the roster but I think that everybody out there is looking for guys that can do both for you. Greg is much more of a pitcher now for us than he has been before and certainly Jacob is more of a position player for us and he probably would only pitch in emergencies on the road when you can only take so many players. If you can find legitimate two-way players, they can be important for you depending upon what role they play and how much time they put in on pitching and offense. I think every college coach is looking for players that can do both."

Can you give an update on the status of senior outfielder Mike Cavasinni's shoulder injury and if there is a timetable for his return to action in the field?

"I have not talked to our trainers this morning but I will see Cavi this afternoon. X-Rays were negative which was a really good thing obviously for us and for Michael. I anticipate he will be back sooner rather than later. It is a soreness issue and then of course it is diving after another ball or more importantly on the bases - sliding head first or diving into first - that we have to be leery of. We will take it cautiously with Cavi and see but I think he just strained his rotator cuff a little bit when he dove and fortunately it is nothing serious and I think he will be back pretty soon."

You've got a pair of mid-week games this week against Princeton. Can you discuss your relationship with their head coach, UNC Diamond Heel great Scott Bradley?

"Scott and I go way back. His first recruiting trip here at North Carolina before he signed with the Tar Heels, I was a graduate assistant and I showed him around campus as I recall. I was a graduate assistant again in 1979 the first year he was here and I spent a lot of time throwing to him. Lloyd Brewer, their assistant, was a teammate of mine and really our only catcher in 1978 when we went to the College World Series, so Lloyd and I have a long history as former teammates. They are two of the nicest people you can ever meet - proud to call them former Tar Heels - and we always look forward to seeing Scott and Lloyd when they come back here. It is fun to reminisce. They are Tar Heel fans and Scott and Lloyd are always trying to help us in any way they can and it will be fun to see them."


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