Veteran players lead out?eld
The North Carolina baseball team will fill the outfield at Boshamer Stadium and every other park it enters this season confidently.
The Tar Heels will combine veteran talent and depth with newcomers — who contribute a level of speed unseen in recent years — to create a defense that its pitchers can rely upon to save runs.
“Defensively, out of my four years here, we definitely have the most speed I’ve seen out there,” senior Chaz Frank said. “You have six or seven runners, and they’re all out there in the outfield.”
Returners Frank and junior Parks Jordan will lead the extensive list of outfield options.
“We have a great relationship out there,” Jordan said. “We have good reads on everything, and we talk real well. I don’t think you could ask for much better than that with the other guys that come in and work with us.
“We’re all just real comfortable out there.”
The veteran pair of Frank and Jordan leads that defense, and welcomes the speed of freshman Skye Bolt.
The Georgia native, who was selected in the 26th round of the MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals, has been praised for his quick movements and strong arm.
Bolt and fellow freshmen Zach Daly and Michael Massardo join the outfield ranks of Michael Russell, Brian Holberton, Matt Rubino and Tom Zengel.
“Depth-wise, we have seven or eight guys total we can throw in the outfield at any given time,” Frank said. “And they can make great contributions as well, and that’s always good for a pitcher to know.”
The older players worked in the fall season with Bolt to develop smarter play and to help him improve his the accuracy of his throws.
“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment in terms of not being able to let it fly,” Bolt said. “I like to throw the ball, and I’ve been working on not being able to do that.”
For the Tar Heels, having the strength and talent in numbers will allow them to play a smarter game from the very beginning of the season.
“It’s about knowing your runner, knowing when you can throw behind a guy, knowing when you can’t throw behind a guy, when a guy’s going to be able to pick up that you’re throwing behind him,” Bolt said. “No matter who we have out there, whether we’re up a run, or down a run — it’s also knowing who you’re trying to keep off second base.”
“Those are all our goals in the outfield.”
The Tar Heels believe the 2013 outfield has the tools to accomplish those goals, and ultimately, live up to its preseason No. 1 ranking in Baseball America’s poll.
“We’ve just got a whole lot of options” Jordan said. “So it’s looking good.”
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