Lee knows lineup will score runs but likes its flexibility
|Thursday, February 18, 2016, 7:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Clemson’s offense should score runs in 2016, but new head coach Monte Lee is also excited about the fact that he has the kind of depth that will allow him to create lineups based off matchups and whether he needs a defensive lineup or one built to pound the baseball.
Lee and the Clemson baseball program will open the Lee era and the 2016 season Friday, hosting Maine in the first game of a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Friday’s game starts at 4 p.m., Saturday’s first pitch will be at 2 p.m. and the finale on Sunday will start at 1 p.m.
Several players battled it out for the right to start at first base, and transfer Chris Williams get the nod on Friday. Williams transferred to Clemson late last summer after starring at Golden West College in Garden Grove, California.
“We're definitely going to with Chris Williams at first base. We feel like Chris is a guy that gives us a pretty good defender at first,” Lee said earlier this week. “He's a middle of the order type hitter. He's really hitting the ball well in the preseason, so Chris will play first base. I think the domino effect will depend on what we do with (Reed) Rohlman. If we play Rohlman in left, it opens up an opportunity for us to DH a Robert Jolly. Robert gives you quality at-bats in a DH spot. We all know how good of a hitter Rohlman is. If we DH Rohlman, then it opens up some opportunities for us to put some guys that are more defensive.
“If we want to go with a little more defense, we may put a (Drew) Wharton in left or a Maleeke Gibson in left. You can put Mike Triller in left. They're all pretty good defenders and DH Rohlman. If we want to go with a little more offensive lineup we could play Reed in left and DH Jolly and be more offensive. It's really going to depend upon the match up for us. If we want to be a little more defensive on a Friday night, we may go a little more defensive and as the weekend progresses if we feel like we need to score more runs we may go a little more offensive.”
Starting in right field will be true freshman Seth Beer, who was rated as the No. 2 overall player and No. 1 outfielder in the nation by Perfect Game. Beer’s potential has Lee excited.
“I think Beer has shown over the last two weekends that he has the potential and the ability to be a guy that can drive the baseball, can hit at a high level, can really throw and that's where he's most comfortable,” Lee said. “We didn't have enough time to really move him around and see if there was any sort of versatility there. I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible and not throw too much at him at once, so we've stuck him in right. Seth has hit really well. He's hit a couple of home runs in the last four intra-squads and is really starting to swing the bat well.”
Hitting leadoff will be center fielder Chase Pinder.
“I would say I would probably go with Pinder in the leadoff spot. Pinder is guy who can run and gives you quality at-bats,” Lee said. “If you look at his numbers from last year, his hit by pitch and walks were slightly better than his K's and I like a guy that's got at least an even walk-hit batter ratio to his strikeouts or even higher. We want our leadoff guy to be a very high on-base percentage guy. We feel like Pinder gives us a good option there. I want to get Eli White up to the plate as much as possible, so I could see him in that two hole.
“Eli could hit third if we decided we wanted to hit a lefty in that two spot to open up the hole on the right side of the infield. Eli is going to hit two or three. I think he's hit four or five home runs in the preseason. He's swinging the bat really, really good and hits balls to off-fields and he can run. He's been very, very impressive offensively. In the middle, you're going to see Rohlman and Okey and Chris Williams is going to be in that mix. Chris Williams has been a guy who has really hit the ball well. Weston Wilson is hitting the ball well. He could be in that five, six spot. We think we know the moving parts as far as how we want to build the lineup.”