With team in mind, Ammons transitions to new role for Clemson baseball

With team in mind, Ammons transitions to new role for Clemson baseball


With team in mind, Ammons transitions to new role for Clemson baseball


When Erik Bakich approached Ryan Ammons in the fall with an inquiry, Clemson’s junior left-hander largely deferred to his coach.

“He came to me and asked what I wanted to do,” Ammons explained. “We kind of came together, and I just told him I would do whatever was best for the team. And whatever he felt was best is what we were going to do.”

Bakich, just months into the head coaching job at Clemson, wanted to know if Ammons was married to his relief role or if he would be open to a change. Coming out of the bullpen is all Ammons has known in his three seasons with the Tigers’ baseball program.

He’s made 34 career appearances, all in relief. Ammons made the third-most appearances on the team last season and eventually moved into the closer’s role, finishing the year with eight saves and 40 strikeouts in 27 ⅓ innings.

Now Ammons is preparing to be a starter.

“(Bakich) decided to trust in it, and, ever since, I’ve been kind of just trying to figure it out,” Ammons said. “Still not going to be perfect but still trying to figure this stuff out.”

Not only is Ammons expected to earn a spot in the weekend rotation, but he’s vying to take over the ace role for the departed Mack Anglin on Friday nights. Bakich said this week that competition for rotation spots are still ongoing, but don’t be surprised if Ammons gets his first career start when Clemson opens the 2023 season Feb. 17 against Binghamton at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

“He’s certainly in the mix to not just be in the weekend rotation but to lead things off and set the tone,” Bakich recently told The Clemson Insider.

The biggest adjustment in going from a reliever to a starter, Ammons said, is having to get through a lineup multiple times rather than simply facing just a handful of batters in an inning or two of work. Part of preparing for that is adding to a repertoire that’s largely been just two pitches during his career.

Ammons said he’s now working with pitching coach Jimmy Bellanger to throw a four-seam fastball, slider and splitter consistently for strikes.

“I couldn’t really throw all three to both sides of the plate last year,” Ammons said. “It’s something we’ve definitely worked on with Coach Belly, and it’s really helped my game elevate and a bunch of these other guys games’ definitely elevate over the course of the fall.”

Ammons said he’s also been leaning on pitchers with starting experience to help with his transition.

“Nick Clayton, Nick Hoffman, Billy Barlow, guys that have been in that role before,” Ammons said. “Just being able to pick their brains a little bit and trying to figure out different things that helped them out the most. … Just being able to have those guys and have them share their wisdom and what they bring to the table has been really helpful for all of these guys.”

Ammons said he’s shooting for the Friday night role now that he’s going to be a starter. Ultimately, though, he said he’ll take on any role that helps Clemson win the most games.

“Just trying to do anything we possibly can as a staff to win. That’s the main goal,” Ammons said. “Not playing roles. Not worrying about roles and picking up guys no matter what. I think that’s definitely something we took a lot of pride in this fall and moving on to the spring. When (the coaches) do start to write these roles out and try to figure them out, just being supportive of one another.”

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