Cohen Talks Offense, Rea and Kentucky

I wasn’t able to join the weekly John Cohen teleconference this morning, but the transcript was passed along to me, so I shall pass along to you some of the highlights of a very long chat.

MSU (31-21, 13-14 SEC) closes out the regular season this weekend against No. 4-ranked Kentucky (41-12, 18-9), which currently leads the SEC Eastern Division. The Bulldogs are jockeying for a good SEC Tournament seed while beefing up the NCAA regional résumé.

“We need to win two out of the three games, at least,” Cohen said. “We need to be able to do that. It is out in front of us and we can control our own destiny in a lot of ways, and we are excited about the opportunity.”

A lot of the teleconference centered around MSU’s offensive struggles. It’s batting .218 in league play and was shut out last night by Central Arkansas.

“The kids are just going to have to be warriors this weekend. They are going to have to forget everything that’s happened offensively and just do what we have done trying to create offense when it available,” Cohen said.

He added that the Bulldogs won’t do any offensive work in today’s practice “just to let them clear their heads and just not doing anything.”

One player who’s really struggled is first baseman Wes Rea, a redshirt freshman who’s mired in a 1-for-41 slump that began with his last at-bat against Tennessee on April 20 (Game 2). Rea has been battling a shoulder injury.

“I think every time he gets a pitch that is down in the zone he gets a pain in his shoulder and I think he is doing his best to manage it. He is so far beyond our best defender at first base for so many reasons … he is almost a defensive specialist for us at first base.”

Cohen, of course, is facing his old team this weekend. He coached Kentucky from 2004-08, winning the SEC championship in 2006. The Wildcats fell on hard times after he left but are again riding high.

“When I walked out of the door we had signed five of the top 60 players according to Baseball America and that was due in large part to our assistant coaches who are still there. They have just done a great, great job of just getting players to believe in the process. The process is different at Kentucky than the rest of the league. When you’re at Kentucky you’re fighting the weather, you fighting a couple of facility issues that are different than the rest of the league.”