Coach Bianco’s Monday Presser: Injury update, Intrasquad report, Tywone Malone, Pitching
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco held his weekly zoom call with reporters Monday afternoon. Here are news, notes and quotes from the presser:
Trey LaFleur update
Last week, second-year first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Trey LaFleur sustained a shoulder injury on an errant throw to first base that moved him up the line and caused a collision, resulting in a dislocated shoulder. Coach Bianco reported LaFleur’s MRI was set for today (Monday, February 8), and he is probably out two to four weeks.
Takeaway from weekend intrasquad scrimmages
Coach Bianco noted the story of the second weekend of intrasquad scrimmages was the performance of the hitters. “The obvious thing from our standpoint is we just continue to swing and swing it really well,” he said.
The Ole Miss skipper described pitchers Gunnar Hoglund and Derek Diamond as having increased velocity. “Gunnar and Derek have been hit around a little bit, but their stuff’s been good. Their velocity has been up. You know, I thought the strike percentage was better for Gunnar this week,” Bianco added.
He touched on preseason All-American Doug Nikhazy, who Bianco says pitched “lights out” this past weekend, as well as some of the others who have taken the mound.
“Jackson Kimbrell really pitched strong this past week. Drew McDaniel has been lights out two weekends in a row. (Taylor) Broadway has been really sharp, you know, I think two weeks in a row, and Luke Baker has been strong. And so there’s there’s guys I think sometimes it can get lost just because we’ve hit it so well. But there are some guys that have pitched it well as well.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
Bianco also explained that in intrasquad scrimmages the pitching can be situational. “I think sometimes calling the pitches, I’m less worried about the outs than I am trying to figure out what each guy can do,” said Bianco. “If we’re working on a specific pitch, you know, can he execute those pitches?”
He used Nikhazy as an example. “(Say) Nikhazy has two innings to pitch and he’s rolling, and now he gets to the second inning. He’s only got a couple outs left and we haven’t really thrown a changeup, and I wanted to throw some changeups. So, you know, I may throw a changeup in situations that I wouldn’t normally and try to win the game just so he can use some of those pitches. So those types of things happen and they’re a juggle,” Bianco explained.
“The hitters have, I think, outshined the pitchers to this point,” Bianco added. You look at the offense, but there are some guys that have thrown it well. But certainly, it’s been a lot more offensive than pitching.”
Coach Bianco was asked about the recruitment of dual-sport (baseball/football) star Tywone Malone of Bergen Catholic (Oradell, NJ) who signed with Ole Miss February 3.
“Obviously, we’re really excited,” he began. “I think it’s it’s a feather in both our caps, football and baseball.
Bianco noted the importance in recruiting of having two-sport stars John Rhys Plumlee and Jerrion Ealy in the program.
“I think we we kind of have a little bit of advantage…We’ve got two guys that, you know, are not only stars on the football field, but are stars in our baseball program, where a lot of schools can’t point to that,” Bianco said.
“They (other programs) may point to the history or what they feel, but the proof is in the pudding, I mean, it’s happening right now, here, and it’s happened over years— from guys like Seth Smith and Senquez Golson and others, Michael Spurlock. So guys that have put on the shoulder pads in the fall and come out and swung or played baseball for us in the springtime and I think that had a lot to do with it (Malone’s signing),” he continued.
The excitement surrounding the Ole Miss baseball and football programs are also of huge benefit in recruiting a national player like Malone.
“I think just the energy and the positiveness of the program where we’ve got a good baseball program and a good football program, I think that helps out. And when you can show a kid and the family that really, I think, are adamant about doing both, that it’s actually happening here, I think that was important to him.”
Coach Bianco on Tywone Malone’s signing
Bianco was asked about the MLB extra-inning allowance and its potential implementation in the SEC. He explained there hasn’t been a vote yet at the conference level and no decision has been made yet on non-conference games.
Coach Bianco addressed the current COVID-19 testing protocols, saying Ole Miss players are currently tested on Wednesdays. During the season, however, tests will be done twice per week: Sunday/Monday depending if the previous series was home or away, and then again on Wednesday.