Sept. 25, 2002

Q: The Wildcats will have a new look in 2003. Talk about your defensive positions beginning with first base.

We’re very excited about a transfer student-athlete from Rend Lake College (Ina, Ill.), Mike Breyman, to take over at first base. He’s a big, strong left-handed hitter that has power to all fields. We also have Gordon Tyler back who can play first if Mike is at the designated hitter spot or in the outfield. Both Gordy and Mike can play first, DH or in the outfield. Andrew Levenson redshirted last season and has also shown improvement.

Q: Who do you see at the other infield spots?

Spencer Graeter returns at second base after leading our team in hitting in 2002. Joe Naill, a junior college transfer from Walters State (Morristown, Tenn.) will take over at shortstop. Joe has a lot of speed, range and has a very good arm – he’ll definitely help us defensively. At third, Russ Rutherford is back and Jake Kungl is a transfer from Cyprus College (Cypress, Calif.) who will challenge for a starting spot.

Q: What about the outfield?

In left, Caleb Stewart, who had a very good year for us last season, will be back, but he has to improve his academic standing at this point. We’re looking at Casey Gilvin, a transfer from Morehead State who went to Henry Clay High School, to take over for Seth Morris in center field. In right, Tyler and Breyman will split time.

Q: Behind the plate for the Cats?

We’re very fortunate to have a very strong catching corps this year. Caleb Brock was a senior last year so we signed a guy that’s been drafted twice, Aaron Edwards, to take over this year. We lost Caleb to injury early last year and we had to redshirt him. Caleb’s leadership is very important to this team and it will be nice to have his bat back in the lineup – we missed that tremendously last year. Having Brock back will help Edwards’ development as he adjusts to the college game.

Q: Preview the starting rotation.

It’s really too early for me to determine that because we have so many new pitchers. We’ll have a lot better feel on where we’re at after we go through fall practice. We do have Scott Wade back – he’s going to be one of our conference starters. Craig Snipp had elbow surgery and probably will not be available early, depending on how his rehab goes. If it goes well and if he’s diligent about it, he could help in mid-season, but there’s a chance he could miss the entire year. Mark Galvin is a junior right-hander that we’ll count on for some quality innings this spring. West Harris, Aaron Tennyson and Heath Castle are all young left-handers that will compete for spots.

Q: Who would you like to see in the closer role out of the pen in 2003?

Possibly Jeff Archer if he can gain more fastball command and overall control. He definitely has the velocity and the competitive attitude, but when you bring someone in from the bullpen you want them to be able to throw strikes. I’m confident that Jeff will develop into that role.

Q: How is this team different from previous years and do you have goals set now?

I think our team is different because we have so much more depth – especially from an offensive standpoint. We suffered some key injuries last season and we just didn’t have the depth offensively to score runs. That is one area that we needed to improve on and I think we’ve addressed that problem. As far as goals, they are simply to be one of the top teams in the SEC, to challenge for the conference title and earn a NCAA regional bid.

Q: How does it feel to be in your 25th season as the Cats’ coach?

It’s just hard to believe. Time just goes by so fast. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long. Kentucky is a great place to be, I love coaching here at UK. I have a real passion for baseball, a passion for UK and our baseball program. I’ve been truly blessed to be able to coach here this long and to be with all the great players and coaches that have come through this program.

Q: The schedule was recently completed. Comment on the 2003 slate.

There’s no question that it’s a challenging schedule, no doubt about it. We’re playing some very good teams early. Stetson has been a top-25 club the past three years and the following weekend we play in The Citadel’s tournament. The Citadel is one of the top teams in the Southeast and Richmond has a very good baseball tradition. Purdue is a very good Big Ten team and Indiana State was one of the top teams in their conference. It will be a very challenging schedule early for a young team, but we feel that we’ll be ready for that challenge. We open up SEC play at Ole Miss and Auburn here at home. Hopefully our competitive early schedule will prepare us for conference play.

Q: Who do you see as the leaders on this young club?

I think it’s a plus to have two guys back that we didn’t expect to have back in Caleb Brock and Scott Wade. That makes me feel better about this team because of their experience. Brock out of our lineup last year was devastating. He’s one of the top two defensive catchers in the SEC, and he’s had two great summers producing big offensive numbers. We thought Scott Wade would be drafted and signed, but he had a tough year as a junior. He’s got something to prove and we’re glad he’s back to prove it. He is going to help lead this young pitching staff.

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