On Friday Clemson Baseball will host Wright Stae for a three-game weekend series to kick off the 2017 season. Head coach Monte Lee and select players spoke with the media prior to Tuesday’s practice to discuss what to look for this opening weekend and the season to come.
Here is what we heard:
It is safe to say that Lee is excited to kick off the baseball season this weekend.
“The big thing is as a head coach, you just want to feel like you have done everything you can do to prepare your team for the season to start,” Lee said. “I feel like we are ready for Friday. I think I am the one that worries more than they do. I think they are just tired of playing each other. Opening Day is a lot of fun.”
The players certainly seemed to agree that it is time to hit the baseball diamond with some players that don’t share the same uniform.
“Everyone is ready to go,” left-hand pitcher Pat Krall said. “We have been facing the same people for God knows how long. I am just excited to see another uniform out there, finally. I think everyone is really excited.”
Lee said one of the biggest keys to success this weekend is keeping the team lose and not letting the pressure of Opening Day make the game bigger than what it is.
According to Krall, the team is comprised of a bunch of “goof balls” who have an even closer relationship than they did last season.
“We are really close-knit, even closer than last year. I think that is a large part because Monte is in his second year and we are really comfortable. We have a great relationship.”
The biggest news of the day came from observing that catcher Chris Williams had a brace on his left wrist. Lee said it could take four to six weeks for the starter to get back to playing.
“He is so selfless and is such a good kid,” Lee said. “He is a great player. This is a kid who has a chance to be an All-ACC caliber player and a draft pick this year. He is on our leadership council. He is a leader. He is a guy that is very well respected in our clubhouse and by our coaching staff. It is a tough loss for us, but we have to move on. You can see him out here working with our catchers today. But, we have to move on and just get ready for plan B. The other two guys have been catching an awful lot and they will be as ready as they can be for opening day.”
Williams had been looking forward to becoming the starter in Chris Okey’s departure, so hearing he would not be able to play on Opening Day hit hard.
“Being this excited for the season and with it one week away from opening day. Hearing this kind of news was definitely kind of tough,” Williams said. “I was really down in the dumps. These guys pulled me up and helped me out a lot.”
Before practice, Williams was putting in some extra work by mentoring junior Robert Jolly and freshman Kylie Wilkie for the upcoming series.
“They have been here all fall, too. They know all of the pitchers’ tendencies. They know what pitches they like to throw and where they like to throw it at with two strikes. These guys know it all. We like to communicate with each other throughout the year.”