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Everything Tony Vitello said following a midweek win, previewing Mississippi State

9 min read
Everything Tony Vitello said following a midweek win, previewing Mississippi State

Tennessee skipper Tony Vitello spent a couple of minutes with the media on Tuesday night, following the 19-1 thrashing of Bellarmine for the squad’s fourth-straight victory.

What did the head coach have to say on the win and the series ahead as Mississippi State comes to town to begin a three-game Southeastern Conference set on Thursday? A written transcript is provided below.

WATCH: LHPs Zander Sechrist & Kirby Connell post Bellarmine

WATCH: OF Dylan Drieling post Bellarmine

Tony Vitello written transcript

On flipping the switch from last weekend to now….

“I think, kind of a little bit of the conversation we had today was, each day has its own unique flavor or brand to it. The environment today was different because the fans made it so electric this past weekend, but we still had a good crowd tonight. A team that had given some other Power 5 schools – or whatever you want to call it – fits. There was plenty on our plate but the guys kind of put their own little spin on it and had really good energy. If anything, they kind of rode that wave from the weekend into today.”   

On nine different pitchers who threw, none having walks – how happy Frank Anderson will be….

“I think he expects it, so I don’t know. Maybe he gets happy every now and then but he’s hiding it from me. I think part of the plan is for him to have them in good position to do that. Of course, he’s calling pitches too. They are an aggressive-swinging team. When you have that many guys to roll out there – if you’re just going to go off the sample size or the different things that can happen – it’s pretty impressive. Other than one team that’s on our schedule who will be here in a couple of weeks, that’s the best strike throwing group in the country.”

On Ryan Miller making the most of his opportunities…

“Yeah, I think the door is still open for a lot of things. We have done a lot of mixing and matching and eventually, we talked about how we have to ride out the guys we feel are best in whatever situation on the mound, positionally or at the plate. There’s still room for things to go on and all he has done is make the most of every opportunity he gets. He gets better every day in-between games. He is pretty versatile too. I tease him about how he does at other positions and what not, but the kid works hard at being more than just a catcher. You see the kind of sock he’s got in the bat too.”

On Ryan Miller and Reese Chapman getting some playing time in SEC games…

“Yeah, I do. Especially after tonight. I answered that quickly because we just got done talking about that. You don’t know what happens or what would have happen if this guys is in that spot or whatever. The bottom line as a player is you need to get better every day. You need to be ready when you’re number is called. And then you need to enjoy it. I think both of those guys have done that any time we’ve given them the opportunity. I certainly trust both of them on the bases, for the most part defensely– for Ryan Miller, just kind of depends on where you put him, position wise – both of them got as much sock in the bat as you’d want. Both guys too have some quick twitch to them. In our league everything kind of speeds up a little bit, in some categories at least. In particular, with velocity and stuff like that. That’s something those guys can handle.”  

On Cal Stark getting more starts at catcher recently…

“I think really those three guys (Stark, Charlie Taylor, Jared Dickey) are similar in a lot of categories and then there’s one category where you’d rank somebody separate from the others but if you’re just going to go with the overall vibe he’s given us a lot of energy and enthusiasm back there and he’s done a good job of just managing situations whether it be a defensive play or getting a pitcher to work with him in sync. So it’s just been a good vibe to be honest with you. And he’s got the capability too of running one out of the park or just get on base by hit-by pitch— a versatile hitter. I don’t think he’s not capable of doing anything you come up with offensively but the main thing is behind the plate just the overall vibe.”

On bringing Christian Moore in during the middle of the game, not starting him…

“Just kind of something that maybe stems from— similar to what we did with Jazzy (Austen Jaslove) when he filled in well for a guy. Kendro got our offense going technically or at least the first RBI and played really well on the defensive end of things (Sunday against Vanderbilt) so wanted him to be rewarded for that. And I think two, as we get into these midweek games you have to be on the hunt for as many wins as you can particularly this time of year but we also sit up in the office and figure out if plan A happens how would we kind of want to manage guys.”

How confident he is that the recent performances will carry into this weekend’s series against Mississippi State

“I like being at home, I can tell you that. The thing I’m encouraged by is they’ve kind of started to create some trends. We were talking about that after the game on Sunday, so my confidence lies in the fact that if they kind of continue down the path they are of the team bonding thing or chemistry or environment — everything that goes under that umbrella. Then, I will feel much more confident in the dugout, so that’s kind of where my focus is. Them maintaining the attitude and the energy that they’ve had. It’s a little different. It’s a quirky group, fun. But when they’re more relaxed and kind of playing their game, not trying to be pleasers, then it’s a group that makes me feel good about our chances. Then of course going into any game, including if you look at these guy’s box scores, you can’t predict the score, but you can feel good about it.”

On if the new-look rotation will remain the same this week considering its the Thursday, Friday, Saturday series since the changes

“Yeah, I believe so. (Andrew) Lindsey two weeks in a row could have went longer. And then the other two guys (Chase Dollander and Drew Beam), it was nice that they got to 100 pitches — I believe for the first time this year. So you could say on one hand, well they got to 100 pitches, are they good to whatever? One day is not that big of a difference on the short rest, but in particular, those two guys — probably all of our pitchers to be honest with you — I mean Kirby (Connell) has had a lot of appearances, but not a lot of output on the inning. There’s probably a lot of guys that are looking at me saying give me more so I like the fact that all of those guys should be ready and fresh and eager to pitch at home. I guess it’s kind of a rare deal. We’ve only opened up at home in SEC play once in the last seven years, so to be at home at any time makes us feel good, but back-to-back weekends which is odd. We’re glad it popped up this week.”

If he is excited about the quick turnaround given how well they’ve been playing

“I haven’t given it much thought, but I think this time of year, you want to just keep playing. Practice is going to be involved and you do need to make adjustments and things like that. And school is still going on, but you eventually kind of get to this part of the year where it’s all about the games and the weather gets good and the competition is great and the distractions you have to handle off the field start to disseminate a little bit, so it makes sense, the point you make, but overall, I think the guys are going to be eager no matter what day it is just to play ball.”

On the challenge of guys staying ready at all times to come off the bench

“It’s hard. And if I were to compliment our staff with that answer it’d be, just ask us what you think’s going on. I think what makes it even more difficult is if you are sitting there stewing and trying to wonder what the coaching staff thinks of you or what their plan is, and a lot of times the answers are much more simple than maybe you create in your head. It shouldn’t be a challenge to get better every day, because if you really enjoy doing this, then you’re going to be eager to do that. But to get better with in mind of what you’re saying, to be ready for your chance and to sit and be patient at times, that’s a real challenge. And what makes it worse is if you start playing guessing games and things like that. I don’t know that we paint the clearest picture ever for them of what might come up, but they know that maybe it’s for recruiting purposes or developmental purposes or just to reward guys that work hard. They know that we want to use guys. We don’t like when guys only have so many at-bats or they’re sitting there in the dugout and they’re only a cheerleader, so I think that helps incentivize them a little bit, too, and makes them stay ready.”

On what he knows about Mississippi State

“Frank [Anderson] and I were talking back in the locker room… there’s a good handful of hitters that were a part of that group last year. We finished there so it feels a little more recent––I know that sounds crazy––but it was the last weekend of the year, so it feels a little more recent. You have memory of those five or six guys that are returners in that lineup. I do know that they play a handful of young guys too, though, a good amount. So it’ll be interesting to size up that position size group. And then you know you got the pitcher, ambidextrous pitcher––I’m glad I didn’t say amphibious––the ambidextrous pitcher and some other guys, too, that we know from the recruiting grounds. It’s a school that we run into, really all the SEC schools, that we run into often, so a lot of these names when you go back over the roster on the scouting report, it pops back in your head and you know a little bit about them from that stuff.”

On maintaining a fun attitude if the series opener doesn’t go your way

“Let’s stay positive around here, man. Death, taxes, and SEC play adversity, that’s coming. So you make a good point. And it could just be one call, or it could be the scoreboard, or it could be… heck it could be anything. Scouting report says this guy’s stuff is like this and all of a sudden he added a new pitch or something like that and we don’t have it. It can come in a lot of different forms, and that challenge is on the table. I haven’t made that big of a deal about it. I think we’re deep enough into the year, and we’ve kind of taken enough blows or had enough adversity to where they know it. [They know] that the challenge is can you maintain a good energy and ride that wave a little bit, like I said, when it’s going well, and when it’s not, can you take a deep breath or just help your teammate, whatever you got to do to steer the ship so it’s going back on the course that you want it to.”

The post Everything Tony Vitello said following a midweek win, previewing Mississippi State appeared first on On3.

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