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Happy Birthday - Jan. 31

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We have three Volunteer birthdays to celebrate on this last day of January! Junior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and sophomore first baseman Nathaniel Maggio each turn 20 today. Also from football, today is the birthday of second-year offensive line coach Don Mahoney. Happy birthday, gentlemen, and have a great day!

Jalen Reeves-Maybin  Nathaniel Maggio  Don  Mahoney

With his team ranked as a Top-25 competitor entering the 2015 season, Tennessee Baseball Head Coach Dave Serrano met with the media on Thursday to discuss the group's progress, preparations and most-importantly, a few tough decisions still needing to be made.

"This team, we've gone through the rigors," Serrano said. "We've had guys that we brought in with our first recruiting class who have developed and have gone through the challenges we've had in this conference. I believe this team can really set the bar for what this program is going to be about for years to come."

Serrano isn't the only one noticing the positive changes. Following their Top-25 ranking by D1Baseball.com this month, Tennessee garnered more national attention as five Volunteers were named Top 100 players within their respective classes byPerfect Game. Junior outfielder Christin Stewart also pulled in two Preseason All-American bids.

"I think these players are deserving of that," Serrano said of the recent recognitions. "They've worked hard to get this program to where it's at and I know they wear the uniform with pride. A big thing with this team will be confidence and knowing that we belong now. I know the coaching staff feels that way, but they've got to feel that their game is as good as any other game that we're going to go up against."

Here's a look at the recent coverage from Thursday's practice:

- Local 8 Now: Baseball Vols prepare for new season with new mindset (VIDEO)

- Knoxville News Sentinel: Complete pitching staff gives Vols hope (VIDEO)

- UT Daily Beacon: Tennessee hopes to end long postseason drought 

VFL Arencibia Joins Baltimore Organization

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VFL and two-time Tennessee Baseball All-American J.P. Arencibia has signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2015 season, as announced by the club's this week.

While with the Texas Rangers last season, Arencibia hit nine doubles, 10 home runs and collected 35 RBI in 62 Major League games. He also played 48 games with the organization's Triple A Round Rock club, where he hit .279 with 14 homers and 41 RBI as the team's primary catcher/first baseman. On the year, his 14 home runs ranked third-best for the Express.

Entering the 2015 season, Arencibia owns a career .207 average with 64 doubles, 74 home runs and 228 RBI in 442 Major League games including parts of three seasons (2011-13) with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 458 minor league games since being drafted by Toronto in the first round (21st overall pick) of the June 2007 Draft, the 29 year old owns a .275 average.

Named a Freshman All-American selection by Baseball America and Louisville Slugger after hitting .322 with 14 home runs, Arencibia was also named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2005 with the Tennessee Volunteers. During his sophomore campaign on Rocky Top, he went on to produce a .352 average with 11 homers to claim All-America accolades from Louisville Slugger and the College Baseball Foundation (CBF) in 2006.

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Here's a look at the coverage on Arencibia's deal with Baltimore:

Happy Birthday - Jan. 7

Join us in wishing a very Happy Birthday to Brandon Fickey of men's tennis, Drake Owenby of baseball and VFL and NBA rookie Jarnell Stokes.

Brandon FickeyDrake OwenbyJarnell Stokes

Happy Birthday - Dec. 30

Today, we wish Erin Gaeckle (swimming and diving), Trevor Charpie (baseball and Bridget Boland (rowing) a very special Happy Birthday!

Erin GaeckleTrevor CharpieBridget Boland
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#VFL Chase Headley has agreed to a four-year contract with the New York Yankees, as announced by the club and Major League Baseball on Monday. The deal secures Headley as the Yankees' primary third baseman through the 2018 season.

Having spent seven and a half seasons with the San Diego Padres (2007-14), who drafted Headley in the second round of the June 2005 Draft, the former Tennessee All-American was traded to the Yankees on July 22, 2014. In his first career appearance in the Bronx, he hit a walkoff single to push his new team ahead of the Texas Rangers, 2-1. 

"There is a lot of talent on this roster," Headley told MLB.com. "When you go around the diamond and you look at the players we have, there's a tremendous background. There are guys that played well last year and will continue to play well for the foreseeable future."

Headley hit .262 with a .398 slugging percentage in 58 games for New York in 2014. Following his July 22 trade, he held a .371 on-base percentage, the fifth-best mark among Major League third baseman during that span. On the year, Headley combined to produce 13 homers and 49 RBI in his 135 total games between San DIego and New York.

While playing for the Vols from 2004-05, Headley helped Tennessee to their most-recent College World Series appearance while taking the SEC batting title in 2005 with a .387 batting average. He hit 14 home runs in 2005 and his disciplined 63 walks that season still stand as the most by an individual player in a single season at UT. An excellent student-athlete, the Colorado native also became the fifth baseball player at Tennessee to earn first-team Academic All-American honors.

Here are a few of the latest articles on Headley and his new deal with the Yankees:

Happy Birthday - Dec. 10

Today, we wish junior Tennessee baseball player Christin Stewart a Happy Birthday! Stewart, an outfielder, has played in 100 games during his Vol career and holds a .322 batting average. 
Christin Stewart
We would also like to wish two special Happy Birthdays to members of the Tennessee Football family, tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Mark Elder and VFL Jacques McClendon. McClendon was a four-year letterman on the offensive line and currently plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mark ElderJacques McClendon

VFL Godley Acquired by Arizona Diamondbacks

On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks officially announced the acquisition of former Tennessee pitcher Zack Godley, along with fellow prospect Jeferson Mejia, from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for veteran catcher Miguel Montero. 

In 2014, Godley split his second professional season between Chicago's Class A stops, combining for a 4-3 record with 15 saves and a 3.09 ERA. In 40 total appearances with Kane County and Daytona, he recorded 77 strikeouts in 55.1 innings while walking 24 batters. Since being drafted out of Rocky Top in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by Chicago, Godley owns a 6-3 professional record with a 2.74 ERA in 54 relief appearances, including 105 strikeouts in 82.0 innings of work. 

While at Tennessee, Godley served as an alternate for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2012, led by current Volunteers Head Coach Dave Serrano. As a senior in 2013, the South Carolina native led the Southeastern Conference with 108.1 innings pitched and finished second in the league with 98 strikeouts during the regular season. He also fired six complete games that season, more than any other team in the SEC and the most by a UT pitcher since 2000 (Jamie Bennett, 6). In his three seasons with the Vols, Godley went 10-10 with two saves and a 3.48 ERA in 56 appearances (25 starts), including 185 strikeouts.

Here is the latest news on Godley's move to the Diamondbacks organization:

Happy Birthday - Dec. 5

On December 5, we send Happy Birthday wishes to soccer player and Knoxville native Kathryn Culhane. 

Kathryn Culhane

Also join us in wishing a Happy Birthday to two VFLs, Daniel Hood and Alan Cockrell. Cockrell became the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Vols in 1981. In baseball, he was an All-American outfielder for Tennessee and was drafted overall by the giants in 1984. 

Alan Cockrell
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On Thursday, Dec. 4, the 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals announced an agreement to terms on a two-year deal with former Tennessee Volunteer and Royals bullpen ace Luke Hochevar, as reported by MLB.com.

After spending the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander began a throwing program late in the season with plans to be game-ready by Opening Day 2015. After becoming a free agent for the first time in his professional career this offseason, Hochevar ultimately chose to remain with Kansas City, the team that drafted his as the first-overall pick of the 2006 MLB Draft out of Rocky Top.

Following his big league debut with the Royals in 2007, Hochevar was a vital piece of the Kansas City's rotation for the next five seasons. In 2013, he made the move to the bullpen and excelled, posting a 5-2 record with a 1.92 ERA in 58 appearances. Hochevar also recorded 82 strikeouts over 70.1 innings of work, which ranked as sixth-most among American League relief pitchers. His 10.49 strikeouts per nine innings ratio that season also proved to be eighth-best in franchise history for Kansas City.

Check out more of the latest news on the former Tennessee Baseball All-American and 2005 Roger Clemens National Pitcher of the Year Award winner:

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