Sept. 27, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Junior southpaw Dalton Saberhagen is spending his fall camp learning how to take a boxer's mentality with him to the mound.
The change in mindset and pitching philosophy came after a conversation with assistant coach Bill Mosiello who gave him some sage advice.
"One of the things that really struck me this year was that Coach Mo said that pitching is most related to a boxer," Saberhagen said. "Every pitch you throw is like a jab and you want to win most jabs. That really stuck with me and I've really thought about that."
When Dave Serrano arrived at Rocky Top last season, he brought along the mantra "Win the Next Pitch." After year in the system, the full meaning of that statement is starting to sink in for Saberhagen.
"Even if you throw a nasty slider, it is just one strike," Saberhagen said. "You don't get much more than that and that's what I've had to try to boil it down to. It is one pitch at a time and you do your best with that one pitch."
After going 5-3 with a 4.66 ERA in 23 appearances as a sophomore at UT, Saberhagen returned to his native California this summer where he played held opposing hitters to a .143 batting average in 18 games for the Conejo Oaks.
He spent most of his time on the West Coast developing a pitch he hopes will hope him be more successful in his third season with the Vols.
"I've really been working on my changeup this offseason," Saberhagen said. "I threw that a lot this summer and it was developing and now I am really comfortable with it."
Through the first week of fall camp, the team's attitude has left a lasting impression on the upperclassman.
"One thing that I have definitely noticed is that we are all working really hard," Saberhagen said. "We are hustling on and off the field and we are really giving it everything we've got, even if it is not perfect. Everyone is really paying attention to what coach has to say and just working their butts off."
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DICKEY'S SUCCESS NO SURPRISEFormer Vol R.A. Dickey made headlines on Thursday, picking up his 20th win of the season for the New York Mets.
His success has come as no surprise to current Tennessee assistant coach Bill Mosiello who served as Dickey's pitching coach during his first stint at Rocky Top.
"It couldn't happen to a better kid," Mosiello said. "Everybody in Tennessee is proud of him, but nobody is more proud of him than I am. That feat and the way he is dominating with the strikeouts and the things he is doing are unbelievable.
"His competitiveness, the shape he has always been in, that's why [he's been so successful]. Nobody throws knuckleballs at 80 miles per hour, which he does and that is a tribute to his conditioning program, his mental toughness and the great person that he was and is."
Mosiello has just one more wish for his former pupil.
"My hope now is to get that Cy Young for him. He gets one more start next Tuesday I know that and hopefully he can get another `W' there. His ERA is so good and his strikeouts, for a knuckleball guy, this has never been seen, that's why everybody is so excited about him."
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENTThe Vols held their third scrimmage of fall practice on Thursday and the coaching staff left the park feeling good about the team's progress.
Once again, the offense left a strong impression as the team works through the "information overload" that comes with the installation of new systems early in the year.
"Offensively, we swung the bats pretty well today," Mosiello said. "We're getting better every day. We've installed a lot of new things with these guys and what usually happens, especially with 20 new freshmen, you are going to take some steps backwards.
"Right now they don't get to be the athletes that they are going to be, they don't get to just flat out play and feel the freedom to just go out and play. Right now they are having to think before they play sometimes. We are trying to get them out of that and we talk to them about just playing baseball like they always have."
Working through growing pains of teaching new concepts to a young team isn't always the easiest process, but a team with a positive attitude and willingness to learn can certainly help ease any concerns.
"Unfortunately when you throw a lot of information at them it's not that easy, but they are taking to it really well," Mosiello They are a great group, they are competing really well. Offensively, their swings are really nice and short at this moment and they are taking some good at-bats. We like their progress."