Aggie Baseball 2008: Tuesday practice notes

With less than three full practices remaining, what is Rob Childress thinking as opening day draws near on Friday? Who is standing out at practice? Is there any front runner for the vacancies at shortstop and catcher? What does the starting rotation look like on the mound this weekend? Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp takes a look at all of this and more in today's update from Olsen Field.

ON THE MOUND:
Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress told Aggie Websider on Monday that he has decided on a rotation this weekend that includes Kirkland Rivers, Kyle Thebeau, Barrett Loux and Scott Migl.

But on Tuesday, it was all about the closer, as Jordan Chambless took the hill in a simulated save opportunity.

"It was good to get Jordan Chambless out there facing hitters," Childress said. "He's not 100% yet but sometimes a 90% Jordan Chambless is better than somebody at 100%."

Travis Starling had a good day on the mound as well.

AT THE PLATE:
Several players, including Brodie Green, Kyle Colligan and Darby Brown looked extremely good at the plate, and there were lots of balls that should have fallen for hits if not for outstanding defensive plays in the field.

"Offensively, there were some balls hit really hard today," Childress said. "We had a chance to put hitters away and we didn't do that, but sometimes you've got to tip your hat to the hitters for making us pay when we didn't make a pitch with two strikes or up in the count."

But the pitchers paid for their shortcomings after practice, running sprints around the infield back and forth from third to first base and back.

"Brooks (Raley) went two innings early and wasn't real sharp in his first inning. We cleaned some things up mechanically and he had a much better second inning."

IN THE FIELD:
Ben Feltner tracked a ball loaded with top spin that was tailing away from him due to a wind, but leaped into the wall and made the catch right as he slammed into the padding in left field below the scoreboard.

"He just outruns baseballs," Childress said. "He took a bad route on one fly ball in left field, but he made some plays out there today."

BATTLE FOR PLAYING TIME AT CATCHER:
"Brian Ruggiano has made great strides behind the plate," Childress said. "He's someone I have great confidence in with runners in scoring position and us trying to bounce the breaking ball up there. But Kevin Gonzales has been very steady behind the plate as well—throwing and receiving. It's a good race and it's a good problem to have.

COMPETITION AT SHORTSTOP:
Jose Duran and Brodie Green have been battling all fall for the starting shortstop position, but it doesn't look like that battle is going to end anytime soon.

"It's still ongoing," Childress said. "Right now I wouldn't be able to tell you who would start. Jose Duran is really coming on with the bat and Brodie had a really good day at the plate as well. He lined out to center to start the game and doubled to right center to end the last game. He had a good day."

AREAS OF CONCERN WITH TWO PRACTICES REMAINING BEFORE THE SEASON OPENER ON FRIDAY:
"We have some more relievers who need to throw tomorrow in live situations before the weekend, one inning each," Childress said. "On Thursday we'll have our typical Thursday practice getting ready for the weekend."

CHILDRESS' COMMENTS ON NORTHERN COLORADO:
"Northern Colorado is coached extremely well by Kevin Smallcomb and he's in the sixth or seventh year there," Childress said. "Coach Sawyers and Coach Talbot both played for him at Mendecino and he's a really good baseball man. They're a very senior laden team and a very mature offense. They've got a couple of transfer pitchers that are going to be good. I'm looking forward to playing someone else, I know our players are too."




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