Coach Bianco discusses Rebels’ season opener against Delaware, including starting rotation and lineup
OXFORD, Miss. — On Wednesday afternoon at Swayze Field, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco met with media ahead of the Rebels’ 2023 season opener Friday against the Delaware Blue Hens. He talked about pitching, the lineup, the shift, and gave an injury update.
On the mound
The first question most fans have is who is in the starting weekend rotation?
“So we’ll start (Hunter) Elliot on Friday, (Grayson) Saunier on Saturday, and (Xavier) Rivas on Sunday.“
Coach Mike Bianco on the Rebels’ weekend rotation
“We’ll start, the first weekend at least, with (Jack) Dougherty in the bullpen…How did I come to that? I think all four guys clearly separated themselves from everyone else,” Bianco added.
Dougherty started the final game of the CWS Championship, and Coach Bianco discussed him coming out of the pen.
“Dougherty is the guy that probably has…the most significant time in the bullpen. I think starting off the first weekend (he) gives us probably a little better feeling, you know, rather than bringing in somebody (who has) never done it before or has never done it here.”
Coach Bianco on bringing in Jack Dougherty from bullpen
In the field
Coach Bianco offered the names of the players who will take the field this weekend. He also added that we will see around 11 different players starting out and that he will likely rotate a different DH in the three games.
“The guys that’ll actually take the field, (Kemp) Alderman in left, (Ethan) Groff in Center, (TJ) McCants in right, (Anthony) Calarco at first, (Peyton) Chatangier at second, (Jacob) Gonzalez at short, (Ethan) Lege at third, and (Calvin) Harris behind the plate. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw a different DH all three days.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
Shifting on the infield will happen for the Rebs this season, and Coach Bianco was asked how the Rebels are transitioning to it.
“It continues to be a work in progress,” he said.
“I had more concerns, I think, when we started to shift about the play situations and people covering bags and people backing up bases (where) traditionally it would be a certain player, but now because of where they are on the field, they can’t get to that base or get to that backup position, so it has to be done by somebody else, and who is that? That’s been more of a learning curve than necessarily the shift.”
Coach Bianco on the shift
This past weekend we learned that highly-anticipated freshman phenom pitcher Grayson Saunier sat out the intrasquads due to a muscle strain; however, it appears all is well.
“Terrific,” Coach Bianco said of Saunier’s health. “I think, probably what you would hope for, (he) probably needed a little bit of a break and it wasn’t anything major.”
Ole Miss hosts Delaware in a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series. First pitch Friday is set for 4:00 p.m. when the Rebels will take the field for the first time since being crowned National Champions. On Saturday and Sunday, first pitch is set for Noon. The games will stream on SEC+.
(Feature image credit: Kam Wicker, The Rebel Walk)
Kam is an undergraduate at Ole Miss, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Even though he’s from Delhi, Louisiana, that didn’t stop Kam from growing up a diehard Ole Miss fan. He’s a sports guru who watches and follows all sports at all times. He lettered four years in football and baseball in high school and is an avid Saints, Pelicans, and Astros fan. In his free time, he likes to binge watch Netflix, hit the gym, travel, and drive himself crazy over his fantasy football.