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#5 UVA opens baseball practice: Spring, ahem, training

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UVA Baseball opened practice at Davenport Field on Friday. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Man, college baseball, in terms of schedule, makes no sense. UVA opened practice on Friday. Temperatures were in the low 30s, wind chills in the mid-20s.

Anyway, it felt like spring for the ‘Hoos, ranked fifth in the College Baseball preseason poll released earlier this week.

“We’re excited to get some snow on the ground this morning in Charlottesville. But it’ll be out of here, and we’ll be ready to go for a great scrimmage tomorrow,” coach Brian O’Connor said on Thursday, talking with media members ahead of the start of practice.

The regular season starts in three weeks, which, interesting note, the schedule isn’t out yet.

It’s looking like the schedule will give UVA a weekly mid-week game and then a three-game weekend series, which actually, that, of any of what has to do with college baseball, makes some sense, in terms of setting your starting pitching rotation, anyway.

That’s one area where Virginia should be, you know, OK. O’Connor returns Griff McGarry (3-0, 1.35 ERA in four starts in 2020) and Mike Vasil (2-0, 2.45 ERA in four starts) at the top of the rotation.

The buzz in, ahem, the spring, is about Andrew Abbott, a lefty with electric stuff (165Ks in 128.1 IP in three seasons, including 28 in 13.1 IP in 2020), who will be making the move from the back end of the bullpen to the rotation.

O’Connor said the depth on his staff, particularly in the bullpen, with the return of closer Stephen Schoch (1-1, 1.62 ERA, 5 saves, 11 appearances, 24K/10BB in 16.2 IP in 2020), is allowing for Abbott to make the move to the rotation.

“Andrew Abbott starting or not was never about Andrew Abbott. It was about the team and what we felt like we need to do as a program to win the most games and have a chance to win a championship,” O’Connor said. “And now I think that we have some even more reinforcements here. It gives us this luxury to put them at the beginning of the game, and I think really strengthens and makes our team stronger.”

Throw in Nate Savino (1-0, 3.38 ERA in three starts in 2020), the top-rated college prospect in the 2022 MLB Draft class, per Baseball America, and …

“You have to have more depth all over the place, and we’re fortunate to have that. But it’s all relative,” O’Connor said. “I feel like every team in college baseball that I read about their coaches are talking about the most depth and talent they’ve ever had. So, there’s no question because of the possibility of things happening throughout the year. The depth in the pitching staff, the depth and potential starters is, I think, really vital and going to play into every team’s success or lack of success from the wins and losses standpoint.”

Story by Chris Graham


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