Around the Bases with Jesse Wierzbicki

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Jesse Wierzbicki, North Carolina's starting catcher, is leading the team in batting average (.362), home runs (6), runs batted in (30) and slugging percentage (.617). Inside Carolina caught up with Wierzbicki this week ...

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To what do you attribute your great start with the bat this season?
"I am just trying to go up there every time and hit the ball hard. If the hits fall, they fall - if they don't, they don't. I worked hard in the offseason and Coach Jackson has worked with me a lot and I am just hitting the ball well."

How have you adjusted to being the designated hitter when you are not behind the plate?
"I think I am getting the hang of it. At first it is kind of tough because catching you are in the ball game the whole time and you are more just into the game. When you are DH'ing, if you have a bad at bat you kind of go back to the bench thinking about it, while catching you are still playing the game and you can flush it a little bit quicker. The more I do it the better I am getting at it."

Can you discuss Matt Harvey's performances thus far this season?
"Just unbelievable. He works his butt off in the off-season. I was not here last year obviously but they said he had good stuff at times then would walk people. He has really bared down out there this year and has pitched his butt off out there. He is doing a great job and that is exactly what we need out of him on Friday nights and you can not ask for a better guy to start the weekend off in college baseball."

What has been the biggest adjustment for you this season going from junior college to UNC?
"I think just going into each game staying focused between each game. We play so many games - you have a bad game - either a bad game or a good game you have to bounce back and play the next day. There are so many games in the week and you just have to stay focused every day - bring your best to the game, your best at bats and best fielding to the baseball field every day."

Teams have had limited success historically in stealing bases against the Tar Heels, but not this season. What have the pitchers and catchers been focusing on in practice to curtail this rampant thievery?
"My exchange has been a little bit slower than it should have been. Whenever I try to wind up and throw it and not be quick. You see the runner going and you get tensed up - when you are tense you are not as quick as you would be when you are relaxed. Our pitchers have really been working hard on varying their holds and not doing the same thing every time out there on the mound. Take longer holds and it will shorten up the running game."

How comfortable have you been utilizing the snap throw behind the plate this season?
"Pretty well. I would say definitely that Jacob [Stallings] has got me there and can pick a lot quicker. But, I am working on it and trying to get better - we really have not had many opportunities to pick guys off so take it for what it is worth."

How have seniors Mike Cavasinni and Ryan Graepel handled keeping the team together while facing adverse results on the field in the early part of the ACC schedule?
"They have handled it great - you cannot ask for two better leaders on a team. They have just kept us positive and try not to let the team get down and trying to keep everybody up. That is definitely going to help us."

Where are you at on the "BaseBald for the Cure" list for getting your head shaved?
"I hope I am below [Jacob Stallings] since I would like to keep my hair. But whatever we can do to raise money [for pediatric cancer research] is awesome. It would also be nice to see some of the coaches chop that hair off too."

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