Hurricanes’ Media Day fuels optimism

With a crowd of reporters huddled around pitcher Andrew Suarez, outfielder Willie Abreu pointed his bat-turned-recorder near the mouth of the pitcher to get his own sound bite.

Suarez spoke into the Gatorade cup that topped Abreu’s bat and answered a question about his team’s potent offense: “I actually love facing this lineup, especially Willie.”

The jokes and smiles at the University of Miami baseball team’s annual Media Day on Tuesday were indicative of the positivity the team holds as they prepare for the start of their new season Friday night against Rutgers.

Suarez surprisingly turned down more money than any other player in the draft to return for another season. A speedy freshman named Carl Chester excelled in fall practices and David Thompson enjoyed a healthy summer and fall after a scary injury kept him out of 32 games last spring.

“We’re excited about the club. We’ve got a unique combination,” Coach Jim Morris said. “Last year, we had the starting rotation that had been together. This year, we’ve got more position players back, so I expect to score more runs. There’s a different baseball, too, and that should be fun, because I think baseball was meant to score a few runs, not to be 1-0 every game, so I’m very excited about it.”

The new baseball with lower seams is expected to boost offense in its first season of use. The new ball and an enhanced lineup that includes National Freshman of the Year Zack Collins means expectations are high for Hurricanes offense.

“The strength of our offense is our power. We’ve got some guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark so, with the middle of the lineup, just one swing of the bat you can score more runs,” said Hitting Coach Gino DiMare. “You don’t have to work so hard to get a run now, so I think that can help us and benefit us especially with the new baseball.”

The returns of the injured Thompson and drafted Suarez were two of the most fortunate things on Tuesday.

“Me and Andy have played together since we were nine years old, so it’s been fun to grow up with him and play with him and against him my whole life,” Thompson said.

The team’s goal is clear – to make the College World Series in Omaha. They’ve even taken to shouting “Omaha” as a sort of rallying call.

“We do say Omaha a lot,” Collins said. “We haven’t been there since 2008 and it’s pretty much our main goal, all the fans want to see that.”