Lee explains how plans have changed for Grice

Lee explains how plans have changed for Grice

Baseball

Lee explains how plans have changed for Grice

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Caden Grice did a little pitching and a lot of hitting for Clemson’s baseball team en route to freshman All-America honors last season.

Is he still planning on doing both as part of an encore this spring?

Not as of now, Clemson coach Monte Lee told The Clemson Insider on Thursday. The focus for Grice entering his sophomore season will be playing first base, where the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder got most of his 51 starts last season. Grice also started 22 games as the Tigers’ designated hitter, a role he could still fill on occasion as well.

Lee said shifting the focus primarily to his bat was a “personal decision” for Grice, who sustained a hand injury after last season that limited his pitching over the summer and kept him out of fall practice.

“The injury that he had was related to doing both, so just purely for his health, it may be best for us to concentrate on one for Caden,” Lee said. “So we’re going to concentrate on him playing first base and maybe sticking him in the outfield some, too.

“Pitching, right now, we’re going to put to the side because it’s more of a health-related situation for him. The injury that he had, if he continues to do both, the chance of him getting hurt again goes way up. My first responsibility for every player in the program is to keep them safe.”

Grice logged 10 innings on the mound last season over five appearances (three starts), but his most impactful contribution in his first season at Clemson came at the plate. The lefty led the Tigers in home runs (15), RBIs (53) and slugging percentage (.618). He finished with 25 extra-base hits.

Despite being Clemson’s primary power threat, his .317 average was the second-highest on the team. He also finished second on the team with 28 walks and posted a .427 on-base percentage, also tops on the teams. Grice was a second-team all-ACC selection as a first baseman while D1Baseball.com and Perfect Game pegged him as a first-team freshman All-American.

But Lee didn’t completely rule out the possibility of Grice taking the mound again at some point if he decides he’s up for it. Grice allowed 10 hits and had a 7.20 earned run average in the small sample size a season ago.

“As we get closer to the season or into the season, his arm is going to be in shape,” Lee said. “Physically if he feels OK and has no setbacks with the injury he suffered in the fall, there could be a chance we pitch him some. But I think right now our focus with Caden is primarily on the position-player side.”

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