Below is a portion of head coach Mike Bianco’s opening statement:
Bianco announced Ole Miss potential starters, with Bobby Wahl, Mike Mayers and Chris Ellis getting the nod on the weekend and senior Brett Huber back as the closer to add onto his 26 career saves (which is tied with current director of baseball operations and former All-America Stephen Head).
In the field, the Rebels are expected to look like this:
C — Stuart Turner
1B — Sikes Orvis/Will Allen
2B — Lance Wilson
3B — Andrew Mistone
SS — Austin Anderson
LF — Tanner Mathis
CF — Auston Bousfield
RF — Preston Overbey/Will Jamison
DH — Will Allen/Sikes Orvis
That’s a lot of familiar faces for the Rebels. And the only two players who are new — Wilson and Turner — are accomplished junior college transfers. Bianco is exceptionally excited about Turner, who is polished behind the plate and could also add some thump to a Rebels lineup that lost 29 home runs from Zach Kirksey (13), Matt Snyder (12), Alex Yarbrough (3) and Blake Newalu (1). As a sophomore at 2012 NJCAA National Champion LSU-Eunice, Turner hit .332 with 49 RBIs and seven homers.
When Mathis-Bousfield-Jamison are in the outfield together, that’s a ton of speed that Huber, Wahl and Ellis each said will be like a safety net.
“I don’t even have to turn around and look (when a ball is hit to the outfield),” Ellis said during the one-on-one portion of media day.
According to Ole Miss’ media guide, Mathis (6.77), Jamison (6.57) and Bousfield (6.64) all run sub 7-second 60-yard dashes. Freshman outfielder Cameron Dishon is the fastest on the team with a 6.45-second 60-yard dash.
Bianco also updated the status of senior John Gatlin, who is out indefinitely after injuring his left shoulder last week. Once Gatlin returns, he could see playing time at a number of positions including second base, first base and DH.
FIXING UP O-U STADIUM: While most of the team won’t look new, Oxford-University Stadium might. As sort of the final phase of the renovation, which were completed prior to the 2009 season, the university is sprucing up the stadium by adding signage (like the one of All-America selection Jake Gibbs to the right, and the directional sign to the left), more television monitors, pennants for each Southeastern Conference team along the stadium’s wall and more.
The additional TVs will be located at the various concession stands, entering and exiting the Diamond Club elevators and at the stadium’s entrance. While the TVs at the concession stands will show the menu as well as Rebel Vision’s game broadcast, the ones entering O-U Stadium will provide the day’s lineups, promotions and more.
“I think those are pretty neat. We built this stadium, but that was it. It was kind of like building a house but not putting any pictures on the wall or being short furniture,” Bianco said. “I think when fans walk in the stadium Friday, they’ll be a little surprised at the difference it makes.”
While Bianco is obviously busy with the on-field product on game days, he seemed genuinely excited about Swayze Field’s finishing touches.
Bianco also wanted to give credit where it was due for the stadium’s new decorations.
“Michael Thompson, Stephen Ponder, Micah Ginn, those people in the administration, they’ve done a tremendous job piecing it together, along with Andrew Case, Stephen Head,” he said. ”A lot of people have had their hands in it.”
(Speaking of sprucing things up, below is Ole Miss’ latest #RebsBSB promo video. Per the norm, it looks good…)
COVERAGE PLAN: We’ll have you covered at the Oxford EAGLE this week as Opening Day against TCU draws near. For various previews and features on the Diamond Rebels, checkout the print edition of the EAGLE throughout the week. (February 11, 2013)