Fall baseball season a determining factor for Vols' lineup

Tennessee's fall baseball drills are about more than just sharpening skill sets.

The Vols have 42 players going through individual workouts and strength and conditioning this fall, a number that must be reduced to 35 by the first game.

"This (fall) is a determining factor,'' UT coach Dave Serrano said Wednesday. "They have to earn the right to make the team and then win a spot. The evaluations involve how they do in classes, at the Thornton Center, off the field — everything counts.''

Serrano will be watching closely as the team competes within itself on the diamond, as well.

"Over the course of about five weeks this fall, we'll probably play 15 to 18 intra-squad games,'' Serrano said. "The gates are always open to our fans to come watch.''

The team is allowed six hours a week for weightlifting and conditioning and another two hours for skill work in groups no larger than four.

The first time the team can be on the field together is Sept. 15, but only for two hours that week. The official start of practice is Sept. 23.

Player Exit: Right-handed pitcher Conner Stevens, a freshman last season, has transferred to Duke.

Stevens, from Raleigh, N.C., was 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA in nine relief appearances and one start.

New Assistant: Serrano has added Tony Asaro to the staff as volunteer assistant coach.

Asaro played for Serrano at UC-Irvine and has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at El Camino College, where he was the team's hitting instructor, recruiting coordinator and third-base coach.

At UT, Asaro will be in charge of working with outfielders, assist associate head coach Greg Bergeron with the squad's offense and coach first base.

The staff opening came about when Kenny Gajewski left UT to take a volunteer assistant coaching job with the Florida softball program.

Redshirt: Incoming freshman pitcher Andrew Lee from Morristown West High School underwent Tommy John surgery this spring and will redshirt.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee athletics. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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