College Baseball Daily continues our series of interviews with coaches from across the country today with Rhode Island head coach Jim Foster. He is entering his sixth season in charge of the Rams program where he has a 156-119-2 record while going 31-26 in the 2010 season.
CBD: URI is coming off a 31-26 campaign which saw them finish with a 17-10 record in Atlantic 10 conference play good enough for third place. What are your expectations for the 2011 squad?
JF: Our expectations are the same every year. Win the our conference, win a regional, compete in a super regional and hopefully knock on Omaha’s door sometime soon.
CBD: Who do you expect to fill the openings in the lineup left by the departures of Zoey Angulo, Oliver Palmer, and Rob DeVeney?
JF: I think that Mike Le Bel, Tom Coulombe, Kyle Borden, Ty Muller(Juco), Jeff Cammans who sat out last year because of injury, Greg Annarummo and Pat Fortunato who sat out because they were transfers all have a chance to really contribute. Offensively we hope to have a much better team this year with guys who can give us consistent quality at bats. Pitching, Defense and situational hitting will always be first here but the offense is something we really need to improve if we want to get where we want to go.
CBD: The Rams lose two-thirds of their weekend rotation with Tim Boyce and Dan Rossignol both graduating while junior Ken Graveline returns… How do you see the weekend rotation setting up?
JF: We have to work that out in the next few weeks but I think guys like Graveline will hopefully improve and finally people will see a healthy Chris Pickering, Stephen Peterson, and Kyle Regnault this year. We have six senior pitchers this year who will all contribute and some good young arms we brought in so I think it will be interesting to see who they all develop and come together as a staff.
CBD: Have any of the incoming freshmen impressed you during Fall Workouts? Do you expect any of them to break into the starting lineup/rotation this spring?
JF: I think we have a talented Freshman class but they need some game experience, I think that any of them could step up and help us given the opportunity. We’ll just have to see who gets it done.
CBD: We have now been through three seasons with the Uniform Start Date being in effect. What is your opinion on the rule change? Has it been a good move?
JF: Yes it has been a good change, everyone is playing by the same rules and it has helped college baseball as a whole. If I was coaching down south or out west I don’t know if I would feel that way but I know overall it has helped and that’s a good thing. What I like about it best is it really challenges you to manage a whole pitching staff and create some depth. I also believe baseball was meant to be played every day and we almost do that. I do wish we has some more time to practice and be with the guys but you really have to make sure they are doing well in the classroom and taking care of themselves off the field.
CBD: This season we will see a new bat standard go into effect. Has your squad had a chance to try out these new bats and if so, what are your thoughts on them?
JF: I wish we were using wood to tell you the truth but I think these bats are really going to change the game in a good way. I like it, I think good hitters will still be good hitters but those other guys will come back to earth. No way should there be over 60 guys hitting over 400 in the NCAA Div I. That being said I think a lot of guys are going to struggle compared to what they are used to and will these bat changes be something the casual fans will not like because there will not be as much offense or a lack of, we’ll have to see. Personally from a pure baseball perspective I think it will be a better game with more of an emphasis on the fundamentals and coaches will really have to do make sure guys are doing it the right way. I also think it will bring some of the big boys back a bit. I think after this year we will end up with a bat that is somewhere in the middle between what we swung last year and what we’ll be using this upcoming season. We’ll see how it all works out but I think ultimately it will be good for college baseball, these bat changes, and that is the most important thing.
CBD: URI Baseball is in the process of getting a new indoor batting facility for the 2011 season, after doing facility renovations over a million dollars for the 2009 season. How important have these two projects been to the future success of the Rams?
JF: It’s exciting, we have put approximately 2 million dollars into our facilities the last few years and this Hitting Barn is something that is really needed just from a player development standpoint. There is nothing more important to me than that and this will allow our guys to get there work in. Obviously it has helped with recruiting tremendously and with the additional resources we hope to do some great things.
College Baseball Daily would like to thank Coach Foster for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us. Special thanks to URI Baseball Media Relations coordinator Jodi Pontbriand for setting up the interview and sending us the photos. If any other SID’s or coaches would like to be featured in a future interview feel free to send me an email.