Q: You mention Graveman talking of wanting that big ring and earlier today Wes Rea tweeted about fans making reservations for Omaha. How do you feel about those signs of confidence?
Cohen: That is where we want to be and that's our goal and that is our focus on a daily basis. Your deal is getting better every single day. I think the other thing that is happening is when the kids go off and play summer ball and they are around kids who were in Omaha or like Frazier being on Team USA. For me when I was a player here as well and when I got sent to Alaska or Cape Cod League, you see this kid coming from the College World Series or this kid just won a national championship.
You just have this feeling that 'hey we can do this'. We have a guy on our club who is as good or better than this guy. I think our guys are confident about who we have on this club both as people and leaders and what they can do on the field. I think there are probably 60 programs in the country right now that say we want to win a national championship and want to be on top. That's what they ought to be doing and if they are not doing that then they are in the wrong business.
So yeah, these are things we talk about. I will remind someone like Wes that you are dadgum right that is what we're after but your job today is to stay on this breaking ball a little bit better. That is what you also do as a parent. Your daughter says I want to go to this school and I say that is great but you have to make A's right now. Hey dad I want to go out and do this in the world and that's great. But for now, you have to go to Starkville High School and do this, this and this in order to get there.
I think the players recognize that and it doesn't bother me at all that is what their goal is. I don't want them to be embarrassed by that or shy away from that because that is where we want to be and what we are all here for.
Q: Are your plans for John Marc Shelly just on the mound or on the infield, too?
Cohen: Well for now it is because he has a hand injury that prevents him from swinging the bat. We brought in all of our players and showed them our power points for all them individually. We showed John Marc that we think he is very close to helping us on the mound right now. The middle infield part of it is a possibility but for right now we think he is close to helping us on the mound. So we are more focused on that for now.
Q: You talk a lot about needing those dual-position guys in the past with the roster limits. Have you gone away from that for this year?
Cohen: We haven't shied away from that at all but are giving our players a voice and an opportunity. The thing about playing a position and pitching, too, is the health of your arm and how it affects your bat and how you are defending. Hunter was one of those guys we thought about using as a one or two inning guy but Hunter felt like 'gosh, my arm is just not bouncing back and I think I am a weapon, defensively, in the outfield'. And he was and had 10 outfield assists which was a Mississippi State record and I assume led the SEC.
He was a weapon for us and you don't want to take away from that. We let the kids make the decision. With C.T. Bradford, do you still want to pitch? I think what happens is kids really want to focus in on one area or the other. Injuries are crazy, though, and having those dual-position guys and getting in the middle of an SEC season and you need Bradford to throw an inning or Daryl Norris to throw an inning or Renfroe throw an inning, I think that is still a possibility for us.
Q: What approach do you take with your hitters now that the fence has been moved in a bit?
Cohen: Well, I think in our batting practice session that our guys have been amazed at how much of a non-factor it is. It is really not as big a factor and I kinda felt it would be that way. It's not the distance but how the ball flies. I am just telling you as a guy who hit a ball on national television that I just flicked with my hands and it fell over the fence in left-center field, that ain't happening anymore.
I can't tell you why because I am not an engineer but that is not happening anymore. You do build your club around certain parts of your ballpark and I think we are playing 36 home games. So it will be a factor for us. Making a couple of adjustments to our ball park, I thought was necessary. But people are going to be surprised on how it is not as big of a factor as they think it is.