Baseball Opens Preseason Work, Seeks Improved Hitting (w/Cohen Video)

Hard to believe, but baseball season is just three weeks away. MSU opens preseason team practices today, and in today’s Journal you can read a story on the Bulldogs trying to find more offense.

MSU hit .251 as a team last season, but the general thought is that several players are poised to break out at the plate – guys like Trey PorterWes Rea and Hunter Renfroe. Last year’s top hitter, shortstop Adam Frazier, is back. He hit .371, 98 points higher than State’s second-leading hitter, Daryl Norris. With the pitching and defense expected to be strong again, the offense is what could vault the Bulldogs to the next level – as in, the College World Series in Omaha.

MSU is ranked No. 5 in Baseball America’s preseason poll, and rankings are nice, but they’re not what drives this team.

“Nobody’s going to give you anything; you’ve got to go out and earn it,” fifth-year coach John Cohen said. “Our game is a grind, and you have to go beat the game – not the opponent, you’ve got to beat the game every day. That sounds like coach-speak and cliché, but it’s certainly how we approach it.”

I had a lengthy chat with Cohen on Wednesday, and you can watch/listen to a few minutes of it above. And below you can read some more excerpts from the interview. Good, pertinent info from Cohen.

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Do you see similar signs in hitters that you saw in Frazier last offseason?

Sure, absolutely. All those guys had great falls, great summers, great preparation. So I think it’s very possible. Some things have to happen. You’ve got to get the ball to fall for you early. This is a game of, it’s not unlike golf, that situation where you hit that great drive, and now your second shot’s in a hole in the middle of the fairway in a divot. There’s a little bit of luck involved, but at the same time I think our guys have put themselves in a better opportunity to be successful.

Frazier’s smarts help him overcome physical shortcomings, how many other guys have that?

Scouts put it in a very simple way: They say he’s a ballplayer. He gets it. Every sport has that. He’s just one of those guys who gets it. I really think C.T. Bradford is a very similar type of player. Probably a little faster, definitely more arm strength and things of that nature, but really is gifted and has great intuition. We have some others. Wes Rea is a very instinctive player, and again, I think his offense is going to reveal itself this year.

The left field fence has been moved in, do you expect it be a factor?

It really hasn’t been a huge factor. People might think it (is). If the wind starts jetting out to left field and some balls jump out, people might think (so). But I really don’t think it’s as big a factor as we thought it was going to be. Again, it’s just one portion of the field. It hasn’t even changed the dimensions of what were up before, because down the lines is exactly the same. To the left-center field gap, the deepest part, it’s the same. And then the entire middle to the right side is the same. I just don’t see it being a huge factor, although there will be moments where it could be a little different.

Is Bradford 100 percent healthy?

Yeah, he’s 100 percent right now. Never seen him swing the bat better than he has since he came back this spring.

What about Brandon Woodruff’s injuries?

Yeah, he’s just had some elbow soreness coming out of the chutes, and I think he’s going to be fine. He’s going to be fine.

Will he be a dual-position guy?

I think he’s going to be mainly on the mound. Probably not as much offensively as it was a year ago.

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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