USC baseball: Holbrook takes issue with veterans

As team works off rust at first practices, coach tells of holding players accountable for off-field actions

nwhite@thestate.comJanuary 26, 2014 

USC coach Chad Holbrook watches batting practice Friday at Carolina Stadium.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate

After watching the South Carolina baseball team’s first scrimmages heading into the spring season, Chad Holbrook saw positives and negatives.

“All in all, it was OK, nothing great, a lot of work to do. It was about a C-plus, C-minus for me,” Holbrook said.

But Holbrook clearly was unhappy with key veterans for off-field behavior that he declined to specify, citing a “team violation.”

He named sophomore left-hander Jack Wynkoop, who didn’t throw until the ninth inning of Sunday’s scrimmage, and sources confirmed the others were junior third baseman Joey Pankake, junior catcher Grayson Greiner, sophomore second baseman Max Schrock and senior designated hitter Brison Celek.

“We try to hold our players accountable and do the right things off the field. Some of them didn’t handle it the right way. Hopefully, we’ll learn from it and get better and become a little bit more committed to doing what we’re trying to get done here,” he said.

All of them played this weekend, however, and Holbrook added none was in legal trouble.

“Some things they need to handle in a better way,” he said. “We expect them to do certain things, and when they don’t, it’s disappointing. But they’re young kids, too, they’re good kids. I love them to death, but it’s the first weekend of practices, and I shouldn’t be having to talk about this.”

Holbrook called himself “ticked off” enough about Wynkoop, one of the weekend starters last year, that he might not use the left-hander the opening weekend series next month against Bucknell.

“He might throw Tuesday or the second weekend,” Holbrook said. “So, we’ll see. We’ll make that determination at a later date.”

But he was heartened by the innings thrown by junior right-hander Joel Seddon as well as freshman right-handers Wil Crowe and Matthew Vogel and freshman left-hander Josh Reagan.

“They made a case to throw Saturday, not just Sunday. It was impressive,” Holbrook said. “The thing I take away from the weekend the most was the way our young guys threw the ball.”

With the shortstop situation up in the air, he tried different combinations at short, second base and third base that included sophomores Marcus Mooney and DC Arendas and freshmen Jordan Gore and Matt Williams, along with returning starters Pankake and Schrock.

“Part of that was we wanted to see some people in different positions. Part of it was because some of the guys didn’t handle some responsibilities off the field we asked them to handle this weekend,” he said.

Junior center fielder Tanner English was slowed on the base paths by a sore knee, while junior right-hander Evan Beal didn’t pitch because of a sore back. Junior first baseman Kyle Martin did a bit of everything, though. He hit a home run and made two diving stops Sunday and pitched well Saturday.

“He’s just picking up where he left off in the fall,” Holbrook said. “He’s strong, athletic, (and) very confident in the batter’s box. He’s playing great, he’s pitching great, he’s committed.”

Holbrook also saluted Saturday’s work by his top starter, junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery.

“He looked like a big-leaguer. I was very, very impressed with him. We’ll follow his lead,” Holbrook said.

Pankake got a taste of third base after playing shortstop the past two seasons, and he played solid defense.

“Joey should be one of the leaders of our team,” Holbrook said. “He has the talent to be a first-team All-SEC guy if he does the right thing and handles himself correctly.”

Holbrook hopes to learn a lot more over the next two weekends about his team.

“I am concerned with how much work we have to do in a number of areas,” he said. “We’re not really any closer to making any decisions right now. I don’t think that’s fair after two scrimmages, and we haven’t had live work in months.”

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