Ask Mike: Cal’s “Dentist’s Office,” How Arkansas landed Monte Harrison & Baum-Walker’s Brick Warning Track

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-05-13 17:02 PM

Q. Our first question is from razorbackhobbs who says: Sometimes an offense needs to feel pressure to come out of their shell and reach their potential. I’m not saying that those 3 pitchers struggling is a good thing, but what I am saying is that in the long run it will be better for us when it matters in a couple of weeks.

A. That’s a good observation. It was on the telecast yesterday that DVH has been saying he thinks the bats will come around. Really they’ve been doing that all season, scoring just enough runs to win but in a low scoring games. The difference in this series is how far behind they were. To me making up that much ground started in that midweek game against Texas Tech. They were down 7-0 going into the bottom of the the 4th and came back to win 9-8.

The pitching problem with Tygart and Molina is concerning. I feel like Gage Wood will take one of those spots. I don’t know what they’ll do about the other. But at the plate Hudson White is starting to hit like he did at Texas Tech. Jayson Jones strikes out a lot but he can get you a big time RBI or two. Holt is proving that you don’t have to have Wilmsmeyer in centerfield for good defense.

I really think DVH has his lineup finally set. So as of right now I feel really good about where this team is.

Q. Armon Abbe says: Van Horn called Sunday’s win over Mississippi State the biggest of the season? It was big but why was it the biggest?

A. Part of it was the way Arkansas responded at the plate but I think he was also referring to the win’s impact on NCAA Regional play. If Arkansas had lost that series and lost the series to A&M this weekend that would have been three straight series lost. I think that would have dropped Arkansas out of a top eight national seed which would likely have meant going on the road to play a super regional. The path to Omaha would probably have been more difficult.

Q. sgiles asks: One weekend left in the regular season, who wins the SEC and who wins the West?

A. It’s Kentucky’s to lose for the overall title. They’re at home against Vandy. They may get a sweep but two of three is more likely. They’d have to lose the series to let Arkansas or Kentucky catch them with a one game lead going into the weekend. Tennessee hosts South Carolina. I think they’ll win two of three and may get a sweep. If so, the Vols could catch Kentucky and even win it all if Kentucky loses their series with Vandy. The same would be true of Arkansas if the Hogs could sweep the Aggies

With a two game lead over the Aggies, Arkansas can win the SEC West with a Friday night win. I gotta take Arkansas in that game with Hagen Smith on the mound. The Aggies have suddenly developed hitting problems. They got beat 4-3 and 10-2 by Ole Miss over the weekend. Two weeks ago LSU beat them twice in low scoring games. Three weeks ago they lost a game to Georgia 5-4. So if the Hogs continue to hit well I like their chances to win the West.

Q. Axle wants to know: What’s the problem with the warning track at Baum? Seems as if every time a player falls or dives for a ball there they come up bleeding. What is the track made of and is it like other stadiums. Why don’t they use dirt/ sand mixture?

A. You are clearly referring to the scraped arm Peyton Holt came up with after diving for a fly ball in game two against Mississippi State. There are a lot of different products used on the warning tracks of baseball stadiums. The idea is to create a surface that an outfielder can immediately feel with his feet when he steps into the warning track. I’m not sure that dirt and sand would do that. Arkansas uses something called DuraEdge. It’s basically finely crushed brick. They feel that this product gives their outfielders the best feel for when they step onto the warning tracks. There’s also a product called DuraTrax which is a mix of crushed brick and volcanic rock. Volcanic rock is softer than brick. The bottom line, DuraEdge is what DVH wants out there and while I haven’t had a chance to ask him I’m assuming there’s a reason why he favors it.

Q. WVHogfan asks: How much emphasis will Dave Van Horn place on winning the SEC conference tournament?

A. If he feels like Arkansas has a top eight national seed wrapped up (which I think it will) probably not much. It will be interesting to see what DVH does with his pitchers in Hoover. The Hogs won’t play until day two which is a Wednesday. He might go with Hagen Smith but if so only for an inning or two. That would actually give Smith extra rest for an NCAA Regional the following week. But Gage Wood is more likely. I could see him starting a game either Wednesday or Thursday. DVH could go with Tygart or Molina because they haven’t thrown a lot lately. Let them go a few innings just to see if they’ve bounced back. But if Arkansas gets to Saturday in the tournament I’d expect DVH to use a lot of bullpen guys. To get them some work. I don’t think he wants to go two and out but again, I don’t think he’ll place a priority on winning the whole thing.

Q. parallaxpig has a technical question about SEC+: Coming back from commercial, the majority of the time picture is extremely blurry. What is causing that?

A. That is a video streaming issue and it usually has to do with what Internet service you are using and the speed of your server. There are multiple options. You get what you pay for. Internet streaming is usually good but it’s hit and miss at times no matter what service you use or how fast your server is.

Q. Hawgredneck wants to know: What’s your assessment of the Fayetteville Softball Regional? Can Arkansas advance to a Super?

A. It’s unusual. Arkansas has already played two of the three teams. On day one they play the night game against SE Missouri St.. Back in early March Arkansas played SEMO twice in the “Woo Pig Classic” at home. They beat them 5-0 and 6-5 in 8 innings.

Arizona will be interesting. They are the two seed. Arkansas played them twice in the “Bear Down Fiesta” in Tucson, Arizona. That’s a home game for Arizona and they won the first game 3-2, Arkansas won the second matchup 3-2. Can’t get more even than that. Hopefully the difference will be Arkansas playing at home in what could be the two deciding games of the Fayetteville Regional.

Q. To basketball where Hogdogger says: Cal did an interview in which he said he might keep his roster to 8 or 9 players. It makes sense to me because it would hold the NIL dollars down to focus on the most quality players. But my fear is what happens when one or even two players go out on injury.

A. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. I still think he will go with 10 guys on scholarship. For practice purposes he said he might use guys on his staff who are young enough. That sounds like a good idea to me. There’s also a chance of him bringing in a foreign player. Their Visa’s specifies that they cannot accept NIL money. Roster spots 11-13 could go to preferred walkon’s. Preferably Arkansas kids.

Q. T.L. Slaten asks: Did you see the online story where Calipari said his office looks more like a dentist’s office? Sounded like he wasn’t happy. Also he complained that the condo he was staying in was too noisy.

A. Kentucky fans jumped all over that claiming that Arkansas is rinky dink and Cal will quickly decide to go to the NBA. I took his comment to mean that he hasn’t had time to personalize his office yet. Muss took at his stuff with him and right now the office is a desk, a couch and four walls, even though two of the walls are glass with a great view of Bud Walton Arena. Once he has time to personalize it, his office will be fine.

As far as his living arrangement, I’m pretty sure he’s staying in John Tyson’s condo on Dickson street. It’s a three story building. I’m sure it’s really nice and if he didn’t like it they would put him somewhere else until he can buy a home.

Q. We turn to football where Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: What’s the rundown on this Monte Harrison guy that the football team picked up as a walk on ?

A. Harrison had it in his contract that when he left, major league baseball would pay for his college education. So the fact that he’s a walk-on means nothing. His schooling is taken care of. Otis Kirk told me he thinks Harrison, who was a great high school football player, will use his time at Arkansas to get a crack at the NFL but he could also stay four years if he wanted to. He’s 28 years old, can run like a deer and jump out of the gym. I think this could be a great move for him and Arkansas. He certainly could add some leadership and maturity to the team.

(Last updated: 2024-05-13 17:02 PM)