bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the Oregon series.
Brian Green: We got two good starting performances again out of [Riley] Barr and [Matt] Loeffler. That gives us a lot of reason to hope especially as we move into a three game series. Any time you play a four-game series that can stretch you a little thin. I know we’re looking forward to that. I was really happy to see [Quinnton] Mack and the way he swung the bat. It looks like he may be coming. He had a 4-for-4 day at Oregon and any time you can raise your average that much in that type of ballpark and that type of pitching. [Brent] Hermanussen is playing well, [Derek] Umphres is playing outstanding defense. Those were certainly the bright spots. This week with the three games and practice that we have, it’s really important that we get back to going after the identity of the team we want to be and that’s a team that loves to compete. I think we’ve faced some stiff competition and our guys have handled it okay but I know that we’re certainly ready to come home and come into the new ballpark and play a three game set at home. I think all the guys are anxious and ready to do that.
bc.net: You had three pretty competitive games against Oregon with the exception of the third game. What kind of progress and growth are you seeing from your team?
BG: We’ve been in a lot of games. It’s very cyclical. The hitting right now is feeding a little off of the bullpen and vice-versa and the competitive spirit has been pretty good. It hasn’t been great but it’s been pretty good. We played good defense and for the most part we’ve gotten pretty good starting pitching. We just haven’t had that belief that we’re absolutely going to do this, that we’re going to go on the road and beat a Top 20 team. There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic with our guys. We’re facing that type of competition, we expect to play with those guys, we expect to go in and compete for wins. At least when you look at it if we can put together two more innings or one more inning a game, a pitch here, a pitch there, an execution here or an execution there you’re looking at a completely different start to your season. I think that gives them some reason for optimism.
bc.net: It looks like you’re still trying to piece together the bullpen a little bit. You’ve had some late leads and been in games late and had a couple rough innings.
BG: We have and our guys know that and we haven’t shied away from talking about it with our kids. We’re still trying to define roles for guys and everything is up for grabs. At this point early in the season you’re just trying to evaluate who are your most competitive guys on the mound and who are your most competitive guys at the plate and give them longer looks. We’ve had guys that have been very up and down in terms of that. You look good for a hitter or an inning or you look good for an at bat or two and it kind of goes away from you. We’re really searching for consistency right now of competitive spirit for a nine inning period or defining a role late in the game. We have a lot of guys that are capable of doing it and lot of them are out there for the very first time and it’s a different role for many of them, a closer or setup or late inning guy and they really didn’t have that type of experience last year. It’s really time for us this weekend to try to establish a core group of guys we want to go to and a core group of hitters we want to go to. We feel good about our starters and we feel confident about our first four or five hitters that are going up in the lineup.
bc.net: What does it take to build that consistency from a player standpoint?
BG: What we’re focusing on this week is just trying to hustle. Any time you’re facing adversity or you’re having a rough go as a player, the only way you can ever begin to instill confidence is to work. We were really blessed with coming back and having these three days of practice and we told our guys the number one way we’re going to build is hustle and not just running around hustle because the competitive spirit from that regard if you watch us play, is okay and can be pretty good. Increased hustle. Hustle in the dugout, mental hustle, the physical hustle at times. That’s really a word we’re trying to really get out of them is raise your spirits with your hustle. It’s not about talk at this point. It’s making yourself feel good that you’re doing everything right, it’s going to come but it doesn’t come just by hoping. You’ve got to earn it. These three games we really just want to focus on the ability to hustle, not just on the field but internally.
bc.net: This weekend you open the home schedule, you open up a newly renovated ballpark. What’s that going to be like for the team and for you and for you coming back home?
BG: It’s probably going to be pretty emotional for me. I’m personally going to have family and friends and all the Diamond Club and boosters and alumni. That part is going to be really exciting. Without question it’s going to be a really prideful weekend from that regard. I hope that we can go out there and compete the way I know we’re capable of competing. Emotionally with where the stadium is right now, we came back last night and our kids are running out to take a look at it. You’ve got new outfield padding, you’ve got chair backs, you’ve got a sun shade, you’ve got a new dugout. The outfield grass looks great. It kind of looks like a whole new thing. It’s really exciting. It gives you an extra boost and I hope we can use that boost along with a big crowd to get our confidence going. Without question I know that our facility and a big crowd rooting for us might just be the boost that we need.
bc.net: As a former player and now as a coach coming back to Presley Askew, do you have a couple favorite memories from the ballpark?
BG: I have a couple memories that I had playing here but a lot of it is more, and I talk to the kids about it, is the feeling that I had when I played here with my teammates. There was such a feeling that when we played here that we were going to compete our tails off and when someone came into Presley Askew they knew they were going to have their hands full. You have the wind, it’s a different environment than maybe a lot of teams are used to. I just remember the feelings that I had as a player here and how close I was with the team and how competitive we were. That’s what I want to share with our kids. This is what we need to be about. That’s something for me personally, I hope our fans can see that as an alum and as a coach and as a guy who really cares and is going to bring it for his guys and that his guys are going to demonstrate that.
bc.net: Your opponent Incarnate Word, what do you know about them and what do you expect to see from them?
BG: Kind of a similar team to us. A pitch to contact team, not al to of action offensively just based on their personnel. We know we’re going to see a left-hander on opening night then two right handers. They’re going to come at you and throw strikes. They’re kind of up and down offensively. They had one breakout game offensively and scored a bunch of runs then they’ve given up a couple runs in a couple other games. It looks that we’re going to be evenly matched teams going into this thing.
bc.net: Coming out of this home opening weekend, other than the hustle aspect, what’s the one other biggest thing you want to get accomplished this weekend?
BG: I want to increase the feeling we have in the dugout, the feeling that we’re going to do well and that we’re not going to wait, we’re not going to hope that, we truly expect to do well. Irrelevant of how we started off the season, can we go into this weekend with a true feeling that we’re going to do well? Sit back and watch us compete, we can’t wait to compete. That’s the biggest thing I hope to get out of this weekend is to increase and change the feeling when we’re going at a game that we’re going at it to truly attack our opponent and to enjoy attacking our opponent. That’s the great thing about college baseball is you get two teams with 18 to 22-year old guys just going at each other. That’s what makes it great. We’ve done that in spurts so far but we haven’t done it for a complete nine [innings]. I want to see our dugout improve, I want to the quality of our at bats improve, I want to see the confidence our bullpen improve. Those are the three keys we know we need to improve on.