Baseball practice started last week in Athens. While I'm not complaining because I love college baseball, there's something weird about baseball practice in January and games in February. At least cold baseball is coming to rescue me from heartbreaking basketball losses and the swift, clean gravity of the gymnastics program returning to Earth.
So what's the outlook this year? It's an even year, so you should book a flight to Omaha, right? Slow down. This year's team should be long on arms and short on bats. Perno has acknowledged that we haven't replaced the big bats lost to graduation and the draft last year. Signee Miles Head was going to be a big bat to replace Massanari, but he opted for the pros. So, offensively, we'll need fewer Ks (how can we have more than last year?), a higher average, and must produce runs rather than wait for a bomb. It will be National League baseball, rather than American League whacking.
The rotation sets up well. Justin Grimm should be the Friday night starter. Jeff Walters and Michael Palazzone will likely round out the weekend rotation. Alex McRee will start in the bullpen, perhaps as a set up man for closer Cecil Tanner. McRee was a weekend starter for most of last year, but had some control issues that forced him back to the pen. Both of those bullpen guys had their issues last year and location is key for both. Both, when on, can be filthy.
Those pitchers should benefit from a fast, athletic outfield that will gobble up some outs. Johnathan Taylor, Zach Cone, and Peter Verdin might be the best defensive outfield in UGA history. Taylor was awesome during last year's nonconference schedule, but disappeared during the SEC slate. He might be the key man at the top to help produce runs with speed.
The season starts in Waco, Texas on February 19. The first game at Foley Field is February 24 against Presbyterian.