Kansas Baseball Holds Media Day

Feb. 17, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

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Coach Price Press Conference | Heere | Walz | Thompson | Ro. Price

Kansas Baseball Media Day

Feb. 17, 2010 – Lawrence, Kan.

Head Coach Ritch Price

On the upcoming weekend:

“We’re excited to get started. Obviously, we’re disappointed to have to move this series (with Eastern Michigan) to the Metrodome on Monday. But our thought process was that with the forecast for the weekend, that it was the only intelligent thing to do. It will give us a chance to play two of the three games and give us a chance to play at game speed.”

On being picked to finish second in the Big 12:

“I think it’s a huge statement about how far we’ve come since our coaching staff got here (in 2003). It’s a huge source of pride. One of our goals is to stay in the top half of our conference, and I think we’ve put ourselves in position to do that as we’ve continued to upgrade the quality of players in our program and continue to upgrade our facilities.”

On the team’s prospects behind the plate:

“That’s the big question mark that we have going into the season. (Last year’s starter) Buck Afenir was a four-year starter for us, he also hit fourth in the order and led the conference in throwing out runners a year ago. We’re really inexperienced there. We’re going to open the season with (sophomore) James Stanfield (behind the plate). He was our utility infielder a year ago, and I recruited him to do that – to play behind the plate and also be a utility infielder. The freshman, Alex De Leon, will play game two and then Chris Manship will get some at bats at designated hitter in this first series. So we’ve got two sophomores and a freshman, so we’re really inexperienced there. The key to our season is how well (Assistant) Coach (Kevin) Frady does (with developing the catchers).”

On Tony Thompson’s injury:

“The swelling has completely subsided, and our doctors are hopeful now that the fracture will start to heal. He’s getting x-rayed on a weekly basis.”

On how the team plans to fill in for Tony Thompson at third base:

“We’re going to try to take advantage (of the strengths) of all three players that play that position. To be candid, we really don’t have anybody on the roster who can replace what Thompson can do offensively and defensively. Jake (Marasco) is going to open up there in game one. James Stanfield is going to play every other game there at third base. Jordan Dreiling, who is a redshirt freshman out for Free State (High School), is going to play defense late in games. Most likely you will see a scenario where Marasco is going to play five or six innings, and when he bats in the sixth inning, you’ll see him out of the game and he’ll be replaced defensively.”

On the bullpen situation:

“It’s the thing that we’re most excited about. This is the most depth in the bullpen that we’ve ever had. We’ve got really good arms. Brett Bochy will be setting up for us late in games when we have the lead. Colton Murray has made leaps and bounds from his freshman year. He’s a special young man right now. He’s throwing 91-94 (mph) right now, and throwing his cutter at 88. He’s made more progress in one year than anybody else we’ve had in this program. We’re really excited about him at the end of games. We’re going to use Travis Blankenship to match up with lefties and we have Wally Marciel back (to also match up against lefties), who was a starter during his freshman and sophomore seasons.”

On the team’s spirits after losing Tony Thompson in the preseason:

“I think the great thing about college kids is that they know there’s adversity right now. Kids are really resilient like that. There’s no doubt that when you lose somebody who hit 21 home runs and had 80 RBIs last year (it’s going to hurt). The big thing for us is handling the situation properly until we get him back. If we can find a way to survive and overachieve until he returns to the lineup, then the two or three players who have gotten to play more will be even better because of it.”

On the possibility of putting in field turf next year:

“I’ve actually been tracking the number of days that we’ve lost to the weather, and it’s been seven already this spring. That’s the next phase of our facility upgrades is we’ll try to put the field turf in this summer.”

On the expectations of being picked to finish second in the Big 12:

“It’s kind of a different situation for us, because usually we’re picked to finish sixth, seventh, eighth or even 10th. I usually use that as motivation for our guys at the beginning of the season. I will say this, however I like the swagger in our dugout. Those guys think they’re good, and that’s half the battle.”

On the difficult schedule the team will face this year:

“There was an article in Baseball America last year that we had the most wins against teams ranked in the top 25 (in the country) and yet our RPI number was 47, and it should have been in the 20’s. One of the things I did at the end of the year was cancel with about nine opponents so that would never happen again. One of the challenges we face is, we can’t just hop on the bus on a Tuesday afternoon and go play (a quality opponent) with where we are geographically. But the bottom line is if we win 35 games with this schedule we’ll be right where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Senior infielder Robby Price

On how the experts picked Kansas to finish No. 2 in the Big 12 Conference in 2010:

“I’m used to 10th. Every year I’ve been up here, we’ve been 10th. It’s something different, but I think everyone is really excited about this year. It’s definitely fun. We’ve got a lot of guys back and it should be a great year, definitely.”

On how the Jayhawks play a difficult schedule:

“Yes, that’s another thing that’s great about coming here. It seems like every year you play someone awesome in the Top 25 non-conference. Last year it was Arizona State. I think we are all really excited to go down to LSU during Spring Break and get to face them and Tulane. And we’ve definitely got a couple of mid-week games, Arkansas, Wichita State, Creighton, Missouri State, those are all tough games and we will need to play very well to beat them.”

On what his goals are for himself and for the team:

“I feel like I should have a big year. I’m healthy, I’ve got confidence now. Now that I’m healthy, I think that’s the main thing. Hopefully I can lead the team to something special; get back to a Regional and once you get in there, we all know anything can happen in this game. The final eight in Omaha would be a dream come true.”

On if Brian Heere putting up comparable numbers to what he posted last season:

“Heere’s a good guy. You don’t really get a whole lot from him; he’s quiet, he stays within himself and I think that kind of helps him. He should definitely come through again for us this year.”

Junior infielder Tony Thompson

On his knee injury:

“I can’t really do too much right now until it heals. Then I can start working it back into shape, get the muscle strengthened around it and get the bone healed and just take it from there.”

On when the injury happened:

“I thought it was a bruise when it happened. I’ve never really had an injury like this. I broke my wrist once, but I never thought (this injury) was a break. It didn’t really feel that bad. It was swollen up and that made me kind of nervous but other than that it didn’t seem like it was going to be that big of a problem. I could walk on it and I could still do stuff on it so when we got the x-ray back I was kind of surprised that it was actually a break. After that it started to hurt a little more. The swelling went down and I could kind of feel what was really going on down there.”

On the emotional affect the injury had:

“It wasn’t that bad. I had a lot of guys around me that were supportive and reassured me that it was going to be alright. I know I’ll get through it and it’s not that long of a recovery so I don’t think it will be too big of a problem.”

Junior pitcher Wally Marciel

On how his pitching is coming along after injury:

“My velocity is kind of down, so that’s kind of frustrating. Every week that I throw it rises one or two miles per hour. My curve ball is slow, but it takes time. I’ve just got to keep throwing it, until it feels good.”

On playing in Minnesota at Metrodome:

“We played there my freshman year when the weather was bad like it has been this year. It’s a pretty cool park. I’d never played in a major league baseball stadium before. It’s an honor to play there and we’re just happy to have the chance to play there and get those games in so we won’t miss any.”

Junior pitcher T.J. Walz

On if he’s excited to start the season:

“It’s going to be great once we can get outside. It’s been snowing, so we’ve been practicing inside Anschutz. Today, we’ll get to go outside and scrimmage a little bit. It’s going to be great to get going.”

On being picked second in the Big 12 Conference:

“It doesn’t change a thing. We still have to go out every week and prove ourselves with whatever expectations are there. We will go out, play our best and do what we can.”

On sweeping Texas last season:

“It doesn’t mean anything now. Last year was last year and this year is this year. We still have to go down there, and it will be a lot tougher at their place.”

On if he embraces being a first day starter:

“Definitely. I’ve been working really hard to get here, and I hope I can give the team all I’ve got this season.”

Senior pitcher Cameron Selik

On how he sees his role this year:

“Lee Ridenhour picked up the slack that I left and had a (big) year. This year, I know I need to step up my game a little bit and fill the shoes Coach (Ritch) Price set out for me. I have to help our team win as many games as possible and make it to the NCAA Tournament again.”

On being a leader on the team:

“We have a great group of upperclassmen. (T.J.) Walz is a great guy, and so is Wally (Marciel). He picks up the slack when younger guys need help. What I try to do the most is help other guys, because we have four or five other guys that are going through the rehab process and just getting back. I just tell them everything will be alright and you just have to fight through the little pains sometimes. You just have to keep throwing. Once we get into some warm weather, everything is going to be just fine.”