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UK baseball coach Gary Henderson was on a teleconference this morning from Hoover, Ala., site of the SEC Tournament. UK won its tournament opener yesterday, 2-0 over Ole miss. Because of the way the bracket is set up—the most convoluted bracket in history, without question—UK got a bye today and will play tomorrow in the winner of the LSU-Mississippi State game that's being played as we speak (State is up 2-0 in the third as I type this).
Here's what Henderson had to say this morning.
On if using Taylor Rogers in relief Tuesday changes around the rotation moving forward:
Probably not, other than I don't think we'll start him tomorrow. We certainly could. I'm going to see how he feels today, then I'm going to see if we're playing Mississippi State or LSU and what that matchup looks like. Basically, I've got to get to practice and see how he feels. Sometimes 36 pitches feels like a bullpen workout for those guys, and sometimes three and one-third innings feels like five innings. I've got to see how he feels this morning.
On A.J. Reed having a breakout game Tuesday was what he needed to bust a bad slump:
It really was. At no point in time did I think that A. J. was done hitting. It was pretty clear that the game had become a little bit tougher for him. That's to be expected. It happens to almost every freshman that goes to our league. There's going to be a little bit of a valley there at some point. He went through his. To be able to get him back and hopefully be able to use him in the middle of the order here in the postseason is really going to be a benefit for us if we can do that.
On if anything in particular helped Reed bust his slump:
What I really think is they've just got to learn to relax. Sometimes you're dealt with so much short-term failure, the stress and tension becomes too much to relax for those guys. It happens at every level of baseball, obviously. He went through a period where the game got tough, and the hits kind of dried up. Then there's stress of pressure from within. Sometimes the best thing for those guys is to sit and relax a little bit and try to make the game a little bit simpler so when they get back into it. I think for the most part, that basically is what happened. There was no reconstruction of a swing or drastic change of approach or anything like that. Obviously, Coach Green works with those guys every single day. A. J. was not in a situation for a do-over or anything. He just needed to relax.
On the team coming back from 0-4 last week. Any pressure off with a win yesterday?
Well, I think so. Any time you’re in competitive athletics and you have something on the line late in the season, there’s going to be some internal pressure and stress and all those things. I think that’s normal. You just do the best you can to try to manage it and minimize it. I think the kids clearly felt it a little bit. Once you get past the disappointment of the weekend and you get past the postseason part of it, you can relax and realize you’re playing for different goals at that point. I think that’s what we’ve done.
Would Henderson say that’s one of the biggest wins of the year for UK because of that?
Well, you know, it certainly is big but when you look back at things, there’s pivotal wins all the time. The Sunday win against the Gators was huge. You don’t win that, then you extended that losing streak and who knows when you bust out of that and all the rest. Certainly that was a big win, no quesiton. You can’t minimize that. If you don’t win that, then you’re talking about a longer losing streak and the things that come without winning. But it was a big win. There have been other big wins, and hopefully we’ve got a few more coming.
On if he has a preferred opponent Thursday:
I don’t have a preference – and if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell you anyway. That’s the last thing I need, for somebody else to read it. But I really don’t. LSU’s really talented, obviously tremendous starting pitching and John’s (Cohen) group is playing real well right now. So we’ll take whatever the game brings us and we’ll do the best we can with it.
On if not using one of his three SEC starting pitchers on Tuesday helped the rotation for the rest of the tournament:
You never know until you get to the next game, but the one thing I know for sure is it gave us a little bit of rest, and hopefully that’s a really good thing for us as we move forward. Even though we got the rest, we’ve still got to go out there and perform well. It’s a good thing that we were able to have A.J. throw five and two-thirds. Not only did it give the starters that extra day and keep us out of playing today, but it gave Trevor and Tim and Sam and Alex (the other relievers) a day, too, where they didn’t have to throw. So it’s a big lift for us. What we’ve got to do now is take advantage of it. That’s what we’re going to hope to do: take advantage of the boost that A.J. gave us and make the most of it.
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