With temperatures in the 50s for at least the next few days the Bisons players are working out on their own outside. They can have two hours of supervised practice during this time. The first official practice is not until Jan. 29.
“Every one is ready for a game,” Bisons coach Jeff Forehand said. “We have practiced so much, and played against each other so much, that we want to see how we match up against another team in a game.”
With 21 new players on the roster for 2010 Forehand stresses that fall practice was a key to answering several questions.
“We have to see how these new players mesh into our program and what we feel like our team is going to be about,” Forehand said. ‘They have to adopt the philosophy of how we want them to play.
“We don’t want them to play robotically, but everybody on the team is going to have a role to carry out. If everybody carries out their roles then we have a chance to be pretty good. We won’t find those things out until we play a game.”
One of the major changes that fans might notice is M.L. Williams in left field. Last season he played second base, leading off 38 times.
Senior Tyler Wilson, who split time between center and left field, will be in center. Sophomore Antonio Butler will return to start in right field. Forehand, however, suggests that everything is subject to change. One player expected to get a long look in the outfield is freshman Ricky Coleman.
“All three of them run really well so it looks like we are playing three center fielders,” Forehand said. “Athletically, M.L. can make the transition from the infield to the outfield. During the fall he adapted really well to it.
“I’m never going to say he won’t ever go back to the infield. But right now our team is best with him playing in the outfield. He is slated to be our lead-off guy. Hopefully that takes some weight off of his shoulders because of the extra things he had to do in the infield and that he will be even better offensively.”
The biggest question mark is how well the pitching staff is going to be able to fill-in the holes left by the losses of starting pitchers Rex Brothers and Brandon McClurg. Brothers was a first round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in June.
“It sounds like a cliché, but we lost a No. 1 draft pick,” Forehand said. “When you pitch like we could last season at the top of the order it is going to take some time for our pitching staff to come around.”
Senior right-hander Josh Smith is expected to be the top pitcher in the rotation this season after spending last season as the No. 3 starter. Forehand is also counting heavily on senior right-hander Matt Bowling and sophomore right-hander Davey Hackett to step up and challenge for the top three spots in the rotation.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations