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Cohen talks rotation, protection for Renfroe and national TV spotlight this week


Mississippi State coach John Cohen knows how critical this Super Bulldog Weekend series vs. Auburn is for his club this weekend.

Mississippi State coach John Cohen knows how critical this Super Bulldog Weekend series vs. Auburn is for his club this weekend. Photo by: MSU athletics


Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - The weekly teleconference with Mississippi State University coach John Cohen was cancelled to due to extended team meetings Wednesday morning. However, The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog was able to do an interview with Cohen Monday afternoon as they were wounding down their practice on that day.  




Here's some of the newsworthy items coming out of the conversation with Cohen:  




- The MSU pitching rotation will likely not change from the three-man Luis Pollorena, Kendall Graveman, Jacob Lindgren rotation will be used this weekend against Auburn University starting Thursday night. 


"We were up into the final hour trying to figure out if Jacob could field a bunt coming off the mound after rolling his ankle the previous Sunday," Cohen said about Lindgren getting the Sunday start against Texas A&M University at College Station, Texas. "Nothing is wrong with his arm or anything other than us having concerns about the ankle. After he proved he could do that Sunday, we don't have those concerns any longer." 


Lindgren (3-1, 3.08) went 5 1/3 innings in a 15-4 victory Sunday in College State, Texas giving up just one earned run on three hits while striking out five but walking three in 90 pitches.  




- I talked with Cohen about the "protection" of star slugger Hunter Renfroe for the report I did in Tuesday's Dispatch - http://cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=23596 - and the Bulldogs fifth-year coach's response to the idea of protection was interesting to me. So many times I believe fans and even analysts get caught up worrying about the idea of protecting a hitter with the players hitting behind him in a batting order. However Cohen doesn't see it that way. He sees it being more important that if Renfroe, who is hitting .439 with eight home runs in Southeastern Conference, is third in the MSU batting order then the player batting second (like DH/3B Alex Detz) is much more critical to helping Renfroe continuing to get pitches to hit this season. 


"I know teams would rather walk Hunter and put him on first base," Cohen said. "The problem is if Detzy walks or gets on then it's really tough for that coach or that pitcher to say, 'I'll just walk him and put that lead runner in scoring position.' And that's also assuming that Adam Frazier, our leadoff hitter, isn't already on base too. I'm just somebody that focuses so much more on the batters in front than worrying about who is coming up behind a player in that scenario."  


Detz has seven starts in the second spot of the MSU lineup and is hitting .250 in conference play but also has a current 13-game hitting streak of reaching base.  




- Mississippi State opens the second half of its 10-weekend conference schedule on the home field this week, hosting SEC West rival Auburn in a three-game, Thursday-through-Saturday series at Dudy Noble Field. The Super Bulldog Weekend series begins with an appearance on the SEC's Thursday Night Game of the Week TV series on ESPNU. Normally this season, and Cohen mentioned it Sunday after the win at Texas A&M, that SEC schools have had trouble to get attendance for the Thursday night game and to counter that MSU is giving out free t-shirts to the first 8,000 fans that arrive through the gates at Dudy Noble Field. 


"I think our kids are excited about being on national television even though they've gotten used to the television cameras around them this season already," Cohen said. "Two things are critical to them this week and one is we don't have to gear up for a mid-week game this week. Two and this is really important to them, they're going to seriously enjoy having a Sunday off to do whatever they want. I know our guys will enjoy having that day to themselves." 




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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