With less than a week until Opening Day, Florida State head coach Mike Martin is still unsure of who exactly will be his starting outfield in 2013.
He doesn't expect to have an idea by Friday's opener against Rhode Island. In fact Martin admitted he may not settle on exact roles in the outfield until around St. Patrick's day.
"There's a lot of things that we're thinking about doing early in the year and I would honestly say that the first 20 games we're just going to be looking at a different group of combinations," Martin said. "But we're also going to be looking at who is going to win this job. We're going to give everybody a lot of opportunities, but it could be well into March before we decide who's going to be our starting nine."
There are at least two potential starters in each of the three outfield starts. The only battle that is likely settled is in right, and it's not really settled. Josh Delph will start against right-handed pitchers, while junior college transfer Brett Knief will get the nod against lefties.
In left Marcus Davis and D.J. Stewart will compete for playing time. Stewart is also in the mix to land the starting job in center if it's not senior Seth Miller. Two-sport star Jameis Winston is also a candidate for playing time in the outfield.
"I think we're all self-driven for the most part but it definitely pushes you having someone right behind you," said Delph. "We have just a lot of good outfielders, we have a lot of speed so we'll be good out there."
Last season Delph hit .267 with 10 doubles and 20 RBI in 37 starts in right field as a true freshman. Despite only being a sophomore, Delph said he feels like a veteran in right and has done his best to make Knief, a redshirt junior, feel comfortable playing balls off the screen in right.
"He's helped me with a bunch of stuff," Knief, who played for UNC as a freshman before transferring to Seminole State C.C. last season. "Reads off the screen, the sun, the sun is actually worse than the screen. Trying to acclimate myself and just taking it day by day."
As senior in his third year in the program, Miller has taken on the leadership role of the group. Last season he started 43 games, but hit just .212 with three home runs and 29 RBI.
While he's terrific defensively, Miller's biggest weakness comes at the plate when facing left-handed pitching.
"Seth's certainly been impressive from a defensive standpoint," Martin said. "He throws well, a third-year player. He's a guy that has produced very well against right-handed pitching. He's still working to be a better left-handed hitter against left-handed pitching, but he understands what his role is. He's not a guy that's a homerun guy, although he has hit a couple of grand slams if I'm not mistaken, and he's a guy that's a good team guy because he'll do anything that he can to help his team win."
Whether it's in center or left, the player who had the coaching staff the most excited this fall was undoubtedly the true freshman Stewart. At 6-foot, 230 pounds the Jacksonville Bolles High School has a great blend of speed in power.
Stewart has spent time working in both center and left this fall and even in the spring leading up to the season. Last year a senior in High School, Stewart hit .424 with nine home runs and 29 RBI.
"Coach is still rotating us, but he wants me to get used to all the positions," Stewart said. "I've always played center so he wants me to learn all the positions so I can play anywhere."
Assistant Coach Mike Martin Jr. thinks Stewart will be an integral part of the 2013 team, and the fact that he was a running back for a state championship team at Bolles will help him adjust to Division I baseball.
"He's got a good combination of power and speed," Martin Jr. said. "He throws very well. He's got a little bit of football mentatlity in him, which can really be a positive in our game, we've got big plans for him."
Depending on where Stewart ends up will determine Davis' role. Davis is a junior college transfer from Tennessee Walters State Community College. Last season as sophomore Davis hit .450 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI at Walters State.
Even if Davis isn't a starter in left, his bat will earn him swings as the designated hitter. Like the rest of the outfield candidates, Davis said that he will be fine with whatever role the coaches determine for him.
"It's all about the team," Davis said. "Whatever role they give me, I'll handle it with class and grace and I'm just looking forward to being a part of a winning tradition."
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