Ducks back on the practice field.

For the first time in 28 years a group of University of Oregon baseball players threw baseballs, loosened up and listened to coaches outline what was in store for the future for them and the Duck baseball program. Head Coach George Horton took time after practice to answer media questions.

"I thought they passed the first day, they showed enthusiasm they had energy, they were attentive," said George Horton of the first day. "Some of these early practices I think the challenge is that there is a lot of talking and a lot of philosophical things (and) young men like a lot of physical activity rather than discussion."

Horton thinks the first day had some surprises and some disappointments and his final assessment of the first day is that his Duck team "has a long way to go."

Considering simple things like managers not knowing how to set things up, the staff is not yet cohesive, issues with the practice plan organization, players not knowing the terminology it was not exactly the first day of a typical practice. Of course it was also the first day of practice for a program that has been out of business for 28 years.

For the next couple of weeks the Ducks will be on a killer workout schedule starting around 10 in the morning and running until 6 or so at night. They'll take 45 minutes off for lunch and the rest of the time it was work. While this might sound pretty tough this plan should get the program off on the right foot and according to Horton in the next couple of weeks the team is going to come out knowing each other a lot better.

On the first day it was a task for the coach to put names with faces on the 45-man roster. Baseball is a sport of statistics and Horton gleamed that he was "4-for-4" in getting the first few names right. It gives the coach a weird feeling not knowing everyone but this is indeed a groundbreaking experience for a man that has known so much success in a sport he obviously loves. He's taking a bunch of raw recruits, bringing them together in a school that is more known for scoring touchdowns than hitting singles. His team is working out at Thurston High School in Springfield and when the weather turns bad they'll huddle in the Thurston's training facilities or find some time in the Moshofsky Center when Oregon Head Football Coach Mike Bellotti isn't using it.

Oh by the way, according to Horton the players are seeing the nice guy side of his personality. They haven't had the pleasure of hearing his raised voice or intense stare if there is an "airhead play" or a lack of effort, or when someone fails to listen to the coaches. As in all basic training scenarios those gentle love taps a drill sergeant or baseball coach gives to his charges is done so not as some sort of pathological punishment, but as a way of reinforcing the right way of doing things.

Admittedly though, considering the state of the entire program the one thing Horton is vowing to do is show patience.



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