Yep. It’s back.
The Vanderbilt baseball team opens the 2020 season the same way it ended 2019: against the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan, the runner-up in last year’s College World Series (a fact that specifically thrills me, person who is happy to see the “SEC Uber Alles” portion of the world get annoyed to see a Big Ten team doing something in baseball), will take on Vanderbilt tonight at 6 PM CT at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The game will be televised on the MLB Network, and also streaming on mlb.com. If you’re not out celebrating Valentine’s Day, join us in the game thread.
Two big surprises (and one little one):
- Fr. Catcher C.J. “Chi-Chi” Rodriguez not only gets the Opening Day start, but is batting 2nd. In the Catcher Preview I wrote two weeks back, I noted that not only haz Chi-Chi been doing well in practice, Fall Ball, and Exhibition Games against Okie State and Michigan, but also that Corbin gave him the jersey number reserved for starting catchers:
#5 Fr. C C.J. “Chi-Chi” Rodriguez (N/A)
Not sure how many of you know this, but Coach Corbin chooses the numbers for his players—not the other way around. As such, it is quite telling that Rodriguez, and not Duvall or Keegan, has been given the #5—the number worn by the past three starting catchers: Philip Clarke, Jason Delay, and Spencer Navin.
Based purely on the small sample size of Fall Ball games, I completely see what Corbs sees in Chi-Chi.
Behind the plate, he looks like a natural. At the plate? Well, he went 2 for 3 against Michigan.
Still, we all assumed junior backstop Ty “The Jaguar” Duvall would be our opening day catcher. Not only did he hit and defend well last year, but he was the personal catcher of Mason Hickman—tonight’s man on the mound. This is, in a word, shocking. I have to assume Duvy will be our DH tonight (for those who don’t know, Corbs always puts a starting pitcher in this lineup spot so as to be able to use the platoon advantage when the DH spot comes up), and catch tomorrow, but unless he is injured, this is intriguing. At the very least, this points to an equal playing time share for Duvy and Chi-Chi. This has been your annual reminder to pay attention to the jersey number Corbs doles out. Whoa Nellie!
2. Harry Ray batting 9th (or “2nd Leadoff” if you want to be nice). Again, it seems like Corbs is more inclined to go with youth over experience tonight. I thought Dirty Harry might bat 2nd. I did not think 9th was in the picture.
3. Spencer “The Gift” Jones not just getting the starting nod at first, but batting 6th, is something I can completely get behind. This kid is the real deal. Wait until his left elbow is healthy enough to get him on the mound...
See you in the comments.
Happy Love Day. I Choo Choo Choose all of you.
-Andrew VU ‘04