February 4, 2013 2:43:06 PM
STARKVILLE - Sunday was the first big offensive day of the preseason for the Mississippi State University baseball team as the split-squad scrimmage posted 16 runs in the six innings of play.
MSU junior right fielder Hunter Renfroe had another big day at the plate with a double in the outfield gap, and a triple to complete a 3-RBI day. Renfroe has solidified his spot in the middle of the MSU lineup with a productive preseason that follows up an eye-opening 19-home run summer league season with Bethesda, Md., in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League.
"Hunter is such a talented young man and I think he's tired and sick of me saying stuff like that," MSU coach John Cohen said. "His deal is he has to get hits instead of trying to hit balls hard. If he just puts the barrel in the right spot instead of trying to really reach back for something extra and doing too much, he'll hit a lot of balls a long way. In terms of raw tools and raw skills, I don't know if I've ever seen the full gamut of skills."
Alex Detz, a junior college transfer from California, showed some pop in his bat as he doubled in two runs on a line drive that hit the middle of the right field wall on a fly. Detz is competing for time at third base with Daryl Norris and Nick Flair, who both also had base hits Sunday.
"Alex Detz is somebody who gives us a left-handed bat at third base, and certainly he's a really good offensive player," Cohen said.
After seniors Kendall Graveman, Luis Pollorena and Ross Mitchell all struggled heavily on the mound Sunday, The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog talked with MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson about his concerns after a frustrating day.
"Nobody swings a bat in the bullpen," Thompson said referencing Graveman's solid bullpen sessions before his scrimmage starts. "Any time you miss on the mound after any procedure is a setback but I still think Kendall will be what we normally see when the season starts. We'll probably move him to a Saturday spot this weekend for a scrimmage. He threw 35 pitches in one inning today and that scares me more than if I guy threw 100 pitches in an outing without stress."
C.T. Bradford and Daryl Norris both pitched Sunday and the southpaw Bradford was much better in a left-on-left situation working down in the zone by getting a strikeout and a ground ball out.
"We're just monitoring them on a daily basis and see if they can go on a day-to-day basis," Thompson said.
Junior Ben Bracewell finally got to throw an inning in higher than freezing temperatures and worked a scoreless frame with a 6-4-3 double play ground ball included.
"With him not being able to do anything in the fall, every positive day we get out of Ben Bracewell is a step in the right direction before the season starts," Thompson said. "I'm really optimistic that he could be a factor for us late in games this season."
Thompson did confirm sophomore right-hander Brandon Woodruff "will start Tuesday unless something different happens", which will be the Wheeler native's first preseason spring outing. Woodruff, who has felt elbow tenderness since the beginning of January, has begun a a long toss regime and threw this weekend off flat ground from 50 feet but was unable to start a bullpen session with Thompson on a mound. The MSU assistant said that's the reason his scheduled Sunday scrimmage start was pushed back to now Tuesday night at 4:30 p.m.
"It may be one inning but this is the first time this spring that I felt like he's ready to take the mound," Thompson said. "He wants to take the mound. Don't take Brandon Woodruff out of that group to have a special season just yet now."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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