Bowling Green Hot Rods media day

2 04 2014

Had a chance to speak with manager Michael Johns and several players before Thursday’s season opener against South Bend (Ind.).
Here are few highlights from today’s media day.

Johns
on opening day
“I don’t care how long you have been in this, opening day is always special no matter how old you are. I can’t say enough about the people and the town, the way they have embraced us the last few days. Everybody has been great. There is a lot of support here. We’re really excited to get going and see what this team can do.”

On the mix of returning players and players new to a full season
“It’s kind of two fold. Some of these guys have been in this league before and then we’ve had some guys that I have been with the last year, some of them the last two years. We have guys that have been through the league and know what to expect and guys that are bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go.”

On what fans can expect from the Hot Rods in 2014

“We run a lot. We like to steal bases. I’ve been fortunate enough to have teams that can run and they like to run. You are going to see some good pitching, some good arms, and guys that like to play defense and take pride in it. It’s something the Rays stress, fundamental baseball. There are going to be nights when it might get ugly. Just like any level of baseball guys get nervous and they make rookie mistakes. For the most part we are going to be aggressive.”

“Sometimes it just takes guys a couple of years to get their feet wet. A lot of guys that have that are big picks didn’t come out the gate hot, but there is a reason why they got picked where they did. They certainly have the skill set. They need to translate it at 7 o’clock every night.”

On the starting rotation

“We have a good mix of lefty-righty, a good mix of some older guys and younger guys. It’s really exciting to see these guys pitch in April.”

On Aaron Griffin starting in the bullpen

“He’s built up like a starter, so he can go four or five innings. He gives me a lot of flexibility to go long out of the bullpen. He can go one inning and obviously he was very good last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was starting by the end of the year.”

On Juniel Querecuto coming back to Hot Rods after missing 2013 with a season
“We had really good shortstops at every level and we need for him to play every day. That’s the reason he is back here. It’s kind of a catch-22. You have a lot of shortstops that are good and he’s the one that missed a year. He’s doing really well. He’s healthy. He’s good to go. He’s worked his but off to get to where he is.”

On getting off to a good start with the four game home stand against South Bend
“You always want to start at home. From a logistics standpoint, it is a nightmare to start on the road. It makes it a lot easier. You can get a lot more work done. There is a lot of work you need to do early in the year, so it is tough when you are on the road.”

Pitcher Jake Faria

On starting the season
“It’s pretty exciting. The big league guys are just starting and we’re gonna start right behind them. Getting ready for a full season is pretty sweet, knowing you are going to get 140 games. It’s a good challenge.”

On knowing what to expect from Johns
“It helps a lot, knowing how he likes things to be run. We know how to handle ourselves on and off the field. We know what he expects from us on a daily basis.”

On being named the opening day starter

“It’s a honor, knowing they have that trust in me to go out and pretty much set the tone for early on in the season. It’s a challenge, but it is a great honor.”

Pitcher Blake Snell
on having new teammates in his second season with Hot Rods
“It’s a new group of guys and a new coaching staff. I’m excited to be playing baseball again, getting it go and throwing again. I’m ready to play with these guys and have a good time.”

On not getting to start opening night because of a blister
“It’s disappointing, but my health comes first.”

On being the ‘old guy’ on the pitching staff

“I feel like I know everything about the town. I can help the guys out with what to do, what’s going on, how to get set up with an apartment. I wouldn’t say I’m the older guy, but that is what comes with the experience of being here before.”

On how he approaches this season after a disappointing year last season
“It’s one of those years. You have to roll with it and move forward. I’m excited for this year, excited to get it going. I’m not really worried about what I did last year. I’m focused on this year and do what I can to make myself and the team better.”

On team expectations
“We have a real good team here. I think we can do the same thing we did last year. Everyone is upbeat and excited to be here. Let’s see where this thing can go.”

“I feel like it is easier for us to win at home, just with the crowd that we have and the way that it is when we are home. We work real well together. I’m excited to see what he can do on the road and at home.”

On Hot Rods recent success at home
“It sets the tone. If you can start off hot, hopefully you can ride a streak for a while and see whee it can take us. We are definitely going to come out here and try to win these four in a row.”

Outfielder Grandon Goetzman
On how being here briefly last season will help
“Being here for a little bit, I got to experience a bit of the league. I feel a little more comfortable coming back. For some of the new guys that haven’t been here I will be able to do the best that I can to make them comfortable.”

On his disappointing 2013

“Last year is in the past. This is a new year and a new team. I’ve worked really hard in off season. I am excited for the year and to be with this great group of guys.”

On playing with a lot of familiar faces
“We have pretty solid team chemistry right now. A lot of us have played together two or three years. We know a lot about each other. A lot of us have head (Johns), so we know his style as well.”

On the Hot Rods success at home
“I was only here for a bit, but I was here to experience the great fans. There is a lot of energy. We are just going to play to win. It’s going to be great to be welcomed by the fans. We are going to do our best to show them a good time.”

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