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UK Baseball Coach Keith Madison Addresses Media on the 2002 Season

Keith Madison will lead his Wildcats to the Heart of Dixie this weekend to compete in the Birmingham Challenge Tournament in Birmingham, Ala.

Keith Madison will lead his Wildcats to the Heart of Dixie this weekend to compete in the Birmingham Challenge Tournament in Birmingham, Ala.
Kentucky Baseball Notebook...

  • Kentucky Coach Keith Madison needs only four victories to amass 700 for his career. Madison, now in his 24th season at the helm of the Wildcats, owns a career record of 696-566-5 (.551), all at Kentucky. Among the current SEC coaches, he is fourth in career victories.

  • Junior right-handed pitchers Joseph Blanton and Rob Corrado were named the SEC's No. 2 and No. 6 prospects respectively in the 2002 Major League Baseball draft by Baseball America. Blanton led UK with 22 appearances last season, while Corrado led the Cats in wins (5) and starts (15) in 2001.

  • The Wildcats, now in their 106th year of baseball, will move into their new den when they play host to Miami (Ohio) on Friday, Mar. 1. The state-of-the-art $4.2 million Cliff Hagan Stadium will feature 2,000 chair-back seats (3,000 capacity), a two-level press box, and a "Big Blue Monster" to be built in right field after the 2002 season.

  • Nine of the 12 pitchers that took the mound in 2001 return this spring, accounting for 77 percent of the 494.2 innings pitched last season. Ten of 18 players with at least one at-bat also return to the UK dugout, bringing back 1,255 of 2,008 at-bats (63 percent).

  • Kentucky will face five teams in Baseball Weekly's Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll in 2002: No. 9 South Carolina (Apr. 26-28), No. 18 Ole Miss (Mar. 29-31), No. 20 Mississippi State (Mar. 22-24), No. 23 Florida (May 17-19), and No. 25 Tennessee (Apr. 5-7). Six other opponents - Georgia, Texas A&M, Alabama, Ball State, Pepperdine, and Illinois - received votes.

    Feb. 12, 2002


    Coach Keith Madison Press Conference

    On start of season... "We're very excited and anxious to get going this Friday. Even though it's my 24th season as a head coach, believe it or not, I still get a few butterflies before the first pitch. You just never know what's going to happen in this league. We've got some veteran players back with us and hopefully we'll have a good product to put out on the field."

    On UK dual-sport (quarterback- football and pitcher- baseball) athlete Shane Boyd... "There is no telling how many improvements Shane could make if we could have him in the fall because we do a lot of drill work during that time of the year. That's when our guys really improve their control and command, but obviously Shane's pretty busy in the fall and he can't be out there with us."

    On right-handed pitcher Shane Boyd's improvement... "He has improved since the short time that we've had him - since the beginning of this semester. His control has improved a little and his slider has improved. Physically, he is so much more fit and stronger than he was at this time last year."

    On Shane Boyd being available for the spring... "The only thing that Coach Guy Morriss said is that we're going to have him more this year than we did last year. I don't know exactly how that's going to work. Between now and spring football practice, Coach Morriss and I will sit down and try to work all that out."

    On Shane Boyd in spring football practice... "Spring football practice here at UK is so late, that by the time he got back to us, our season was fairly close to being over. He was so out-of-baseball shape that we didn't feel real comfortable putting him on the mound. First of all, we didn't want to hurt his arm and second, he was out of sync and out of practice baseball wise. Hopefully he can get his bullpen workouts and be competing with us even though spring football is going on.

    On bringing in junior college players was a move of urgency... "Not really. We had a tough year last year but the year before we won 15 in a row, were in the top 25 for a part of the year and we were 23-1 against non-league competition. I don't think one bad year creates urgency. I just wanted to go out and find the best players I could find. Russ Rutherford was the player of the year in Tennessee junior college baseball. He's an outstanding outfielder and we had a serious need for him - he'll help us a lot because he's a steady hitter and fielder. I've never gone to the junior college ranks with a sense of urgency, it's more to fill a need."

    On new $4.2 million Cliff Hagan Stadium... "When I met with Larry Ivy last year at this time about our facilities, Vanderbilt was starting their new stadium and with that, we would have been 12th in the league in terms of facilities. Nobody wants to be last. It will be a great place for a fan to watch a game and from a recruiting standpoint, I think it will get us in the top of the pack because it is going to be an outstanding facility. We want to show young men that Kentucky is dedicated to winning in baseball."

    On comparison to old stadium... "It's going to have a great atmosphere and it's going to be a very comfortable place to watch a game. We were able to keep a lot of the intimacy that we've had in our ballpark, but we'll now have 2,000 blue chair-back seats, a brand new press box with restrooms, television and radio booths and even an elevator. Phase two will bring in our clubhouse. I think it puts us in the position where people can't use facilities against us in recruiting."

     

     

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