Sept. 30, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - Are you ready for some baseball? Without further ado, the fall baseball season has arrived in Tallahassee. The Florida State baseball team will hit the newly renovated Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium for the start of fall practice on Monday, October 3.
Florida State returns 19 players from last year's squad that advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals. The Seminoles welcome back all four starting infielders (Jayce Boyd, Travis, Justin Gonzalez and Sherman Johnson), but will be without the services of junior second baseman Devon Travis during the fall workouts after he underwent knee surgery this past summer. James Ramsey and Seth Miller return as starters in the outfield for the Garnet & Gold, while Ramsey will be slotted as the Noles starting centerfielder.
There are plenty of new faces in the clubhouse this fall as the Seminoles welcome 17 newcomers including 16 freshmen and one junior college transfer. This year's incoming class, which was ranked 16th-nationally by Collegiate Baseball, is made up of seven pitchers including five left handers, two infielders, two outfielders, two catchers and four utility players.
"With all the new players that we have coming in, it is really exciting for our coaching staff to go out and find out who is going to catch and who is going to play left and right field," added Martin. "We have no clue as to who will be in our rotation. We understand that there are some players that return. Players like (Hunter) Scantling, (Scott) Sitz, (Brian) Busch and (Robert) Benincasa - just to name a few - but we have some young guys that are going to be asked to pitch on Saturday and Sunday as well as during the week.
"It makes the fall challenging but at the same time that's what this job is about, a lot of questions that need to be answered and I'm anxious to see how they turn out."
The Seminoles will also get to experience the new playing surface when they step out onto Mike Martin Field on Monday. The field recently underwent a face lift in which a new drainage system was put in place in the outfield. New sod was laid in both the infield and outfield, while the foul territory, from the edge of the outfield grass in front of the first base dugout all the way around to the third base dugout, has been lined with turf. Monday will be the first day on the new field for the players and coaches.
"The field has really matured in the last three weeks," said Martin. "I am very pleased with the job that was done. Certainly our administration has given us a facility now that if it starts raining we don't say `see you tomorrow guys'; we go in the clubhouse, wait until it stops raining and go back out and play baseball."
The fall season will come to a close on Friday, November 4 at 6:00 p.m. with the annual Garnet & Gold game. But that won't be the first time Seminole fans will get a chance to see the players in action this fall. On Monday, October 17, Florida State will host an exhibition scrimmage against the Ontario Blue Jays at 3:00 p.m. inside Dick Howser Stadium. The game is scheduled for nine innings and will be free to the public.
"For two weeks, we will be looking at and evaluating our talent," said Martin. "It will be fun for us to put some guys out there against a very good Canadian team that will come in here with only one thought and that is to beat Florida State. We are going to approach the game to win. It will be fun to see how these young guys react to game situations. I am also looking forward to the Animals in the stands to sing "O Canada" in the fifth inning.
More information will follow regarding the scrimmage against our friends from the north as well as the Garnet & Gold game, so stay tuned to Seminoles.com for all your baseball needs. Fans are encouraged to follow the Seminole Baseball team on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.