New Wheels; More Cohen

First off, great news: I finally got a new set of wheels, which means I can start making more frequent trips to Starkville. I plan on being down there today to take in some spring football. It’ll be the sixth day of drills, fourth in full pads.

OK, on to other matters.

MORE COHEN: I had such a good, lengthy conversation with MSU baseball coach John Cohen yesterday that I couldn’t include near all of it in yesterday’s blog post or in today’s story about his Bulldogs.

I asked if MSU’s offensive struggles would prompt him to shuffle his lineup much. Not likely, he said, because of injuries to guys like Jarrod Parks (back surgery) and Frank Rawdow (shoulder surgery), both infielders.

“Because of injuries and everything else, when we go into SEC play we have only four substitutes possible,” Cohen said. “Usually there’s only one right-handed substitute that you’re able to make an adjustment on, depending on who’s catching on that day. … I don’t like to talk about the injuries, because everybody has injuries.”

One of you asked about senior pitcher Tyler Whitney, a weekend starter last year who’s now been relegated to middle relief duty. He wasn’t fantastic in 2009, going 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA. This season, in six appearances (two starts), Whitney is 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA. Against Ole Miss on Tuesday, he allowed one unearned run in 2.1 innings of relief.

Said Cohen, “He competed hard for us when we needed a guy to compete hard for us a year ago. If you look at the numbers of his career at Mississippi State, they’re not impressive. What is impressive is the type of person he is and the effort he gives us every single day in practice. That means a lot to us.”

When I mentioned that his young starting pitchers are struggling, Cohen took exception to that, praising the work of pitching coach Butch Thompson.

“I think Butch has done a great job just kind of patching it together with some young guys who are some pretty dadgum competitive young guys. I think that’s what really gives us a chance to compete at this level right now. I think when this group gets older and you have several cycles of this type of pitching every year, and they’re protected by the older guys, I think now you have one of the best pitching staffs in the country.”

MSU (14-11, 2-4 SEC) travels to No. 12 South Carolina (20-5, 5-1) for three games this weekend. Today’s game starts at 6 p.m., Saturday’s at 3 p.m., and Sunday’s at 1 p.m. (ESPNU).

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