Game Week

Mike Bianco will host his 11th preseason press conference at Ole Miss today. He'll talk about his team, the prospects for the season, and he'll size up the Southeastern Conference.

He'll talk about his pitching rotation, which seems to be set with Matt Crouse, David Goforth, and Austin Wright. He'll probably say, before any of us gets a chance to ask, that he knows one of the questions will surely be, "Who is your closer?"

Actually, that might not happen this year. Another form of it could be asked, however. And that would be this.

"How do you plan to use your two closers?"

Morgan hasn't pitched for UM since Super Regional '09, shown here
That's because there's little doubt that Brett Huber, so stellar last season with 12 saves, and Jake Morgan, with nine saves the year before that, are both ready when called upon at the end of games.

Morgan, as has been so well-documented, is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery he had in the fall of 2009. Now he's back and ready to pitch again.

As Huber said not many days ago, "Jake and I feel we can take care of things from the seventh inning on in any game."

That's not only a comforting thing for the Rebel coaches and players to know, it's likely the honest truth. Impressive still is the fact that when the recent National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association's list for National Stopper of the Year candidates, both were on it. And only two others from the SEC – Matty Ott of LSU and Matt Price of South Carolina – made the list.

Bianco will be asked about the new bats, where the power will come from for this team, who he projects at catcher, will Matt Snyder DH only, who are the leaders in the outfield and at shortstop, and so on and so forth.

Most of them you have asked, too, and some of them have been answered.

Bianco said this weekend that who pitches when is important to decide in the preseason.

Season 11 for the Rebel skipper
Courtesy: AP File Photo
"One of the things that's critical early on is to define some roles for the pitchers," he said. "Now that we've set the first three guys, what do the other guys do? What are their roles? Some will be defined through the first weekend and in the first five to seven to ten games. Then we can start realizing what guys are better at certain things than others. Like what guys can pitch back to back days? We really haven't done that yet. We intrasquad and they pitch once a week.

"The same thing with the position players. But I think moreso on the mound. I think the other thing is to find the lineup. We'll start nine guys on Friday, but I doubt the same nine will start on Saturday. We'll try to play like we try do every year, a handful of different lineups and different options, and then what actual lineup they fall in. Hopefully as we go through the first four weeks we can figure all that out."

One aspect that hasn't been such a problem for the Rebels thus far has actually been getting outside for practice. As difficult as the winter has been, the Rebels have still been able to practice outdoors most days.

"It's been miserable, but it's been miserable everywhere," Bianco said. "Doesn't matter if you're in Dallas or Atlanta, it's just been miserable here in the South. It is what it is. We really have only been inside twice, amazingly. The kids have done a great job of working and keeping it in perspective. There've been days when it hasn't been real pleasant temperature-wise. But they've competed in the intrasquad games and have worked hard. The days we've worked inside, they've remained focused and we've gotten things done.

"I don't feel it's really played a role on where we are as far as the team anymore than any other year. I feel we'll be ready on Friday. Credit the players, because (the weather) can certainly be a distraction."

More to come from the annual preseason press conference later today.

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