Editors note: Ritchie Price enters his third season as head coach of SDSU’s baseball team returning virtually every starting position player from last year’s team that won 39 games. We caught up with him with less than three weeks to go before the start of the season to talk about his team and new rule changes.
Q. It’s been over half a year since you’ve played a game, what have your players been doing to keep fresh and inshape for the grind of a college baseball season?
A. They’ve been working hard in the weight room, we’re doing conditioning, our hitters hit every morning and we’ve began our team practices in the gym in the evening and our pitchers are throwing to get ready for opening day.
Q. What are your players’ attitude about doing baseball activity when there’s snow everywhere and almost constant frigid temperatures?
A. I think they look at it as a challenge and it’s something we make the most of. We don’t make any excuses with it. We get creative with our practices to get our team as prepared as possible
Q. You return much of your core group of players that had great success last season, does this make you and your players extra poised knowing you may be on the cusp of a great year?
A. I think so. I think our team is definitely confident going into this season. We have expectations to the level that we should play on. I also think with the experience of this year’s team we should – late in games – be more relaxed.
Q. You guys were the definition of road warriors last season and will face a road-heavy schedule again this season, what type of demeanor does a team need to have to equivocate that level of sucesss on the road?
A. It takes a lot of mental toughness over a long period of time. Last year I think we traveled 10,000 miles on the bus. It takes mental toughness to be ready to play every single day and overcome the adversity of playing on the road on another team’s field with another team’s umpires.
Q. There are some rule changes for this season that were met with some discontent, talk about how much of an adjustment those new rules will be for your team specifically?
A. With the rule changes on the pitch clock to speed up the game we definitely have to pick up the tempo between innings. And then with the bat changes, we’re not going to change anything. We’re going to continue to try to hit for a high average, a high slugging percentage and focus on onbase percentage. We’re going to swing the bats. We feel like we have good hitters and we’re not going to change anything.
Q. How important is it to have a bonafide ace on your staff in Blake Treinan and also have a pre-season allamerican closer in Trever Vermeulen that can clinch so many games for you?
A. It gives us a comfort level as a coaching staff knowing those two key roles have been established. The key to the pitching staff will be finding that guy who can be the middle guy between the starters and Trevor Vermeulen. If a guy can emerge as a set-up man to bridge the gap to Trevor, we’re going to see a lot of success.
Q. The season starts in just under three weeks, what are your players and coaches doing that makes sure you’re ready for the season-opener in Arlington, Tex.?
A. Offensively we’re doing a lot of cage work, working off pitching machines. I feel good about where we are there. From a defensive standpoint, we’ve been getting in and getting our groundball work and our defensive segments. I felt like we had a long way to go last week, but I feel like this week we’ve taken a huge step forward and if we take another big jump next week I feel like we’ll be game-ready in two weeks.