Dave Serrano keeping 'The Plan' for first SEC series under wraps

The new blueprint is finished.

Dave Serrano is just keeping it a secret until he has to unveil it.

The Tennessee baseball coach has been forced to do a little rotation remodeling as he looks for a third starter heading into conference play, which opens tonight at No. 18 Georgia. Even the other two spots on the mound have seen some tinkering for the Vols, and for now those are the only changes that Serrano is making public.

"I'm calling it The Plan," Serrano joked before climbing on the team bus Thursday. "We've had four weeks to evaluate our talent on the mound and the roles that guys fit in the best and what sets this team off, and we have a plan going in.

"Nick Blount is going to start Friday, I can promise you that. Zack Godley is going to start Saturday. And when Sunday comes, I think everyone will understand the plan of what we're trying to do."

No matter how that scheme shakes out against the Bulldogs (13-5), Serrano will almost certainly be leaning on his bullpen to execute it.

The move of Drew Steckenrider out of a starting role has expanded the options for the Vols (10-6) in relief, particularly since the junior still has the ability to work multiple innings and is coming off his sharpest outings of the season as a reliever.

But it comes at the expense of filling out the weekend rotation, though UT likely will be counting on the same handful of guys to get the job done no matter who ultimately gets the ball in the first inning.

"There's no doubt that part of this plan is what Drew Steckenrider, what Nick Williams, what Conner Stevens is doing now," Serrano said. "Hopefully with Robbie Kidd when we get him back on track, with T.J. Thornton and his little pieces he's put in the puzzle, with Carter Watson and what he's done out of the bullpen, that all comes to play in this plan.

"When we took on this giant and this beast, knowing the direction we were going in the SEC, knowing the ladder that we have to climb, we have to be creative in what we're going to do with each and every move we make."

That flexibility has extended to the lineup recently, and those tweaks have already provided some encouraging signs for Serrano.

The Vols moved Will Maddox up to the top of the order, and he's responded with seven hits in three games since taking over the leadoff position.

Before that, they had carved out room to get another freshman in the lineup more consistently, and Jared Allen has rewarded them with an on-base percentage of .447 while also displaying a bit of power with a home run last weekend.

But regardless of what else Serrano might have in mind offensively, he has not been shy about admitting that there will be games where UT runs are hard to come by. And that will make his pitching plan even more important and keep the pressure on the two guys who have already been promised a chance to work.

"I'm just going to go out there and try to set the tone for us," Blount said. "Try to throw strikes early and often, that's all I'm trying to do.

"This weekend is all about mentality for our team. It's all about the team, no individuals, every man for each other and the brothers in the dugout. We just have to go out there with an attitude, a chip on our shoulder and do what we can do."

But just who exactly is doing what as part of The Plan remains to be seen.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee baseball. Follow him at http://twitterhttpcom/BaseVols_Beat

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Comments » 7

voloffaith writes:

Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd.......

Give your best for Ole UT!!!

Vols20 writes:

in response to orangesheep:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eaaaaaaasy, big fella.

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

Just give it time, Coach Serrano is going to have to recruit some bats and some size. Mikey Hamilton's buddy from Western Carolina left the cupboard pretty bare. South Doyle has a more physically developed lineup than Tennessee right now. Everybody Tennessee puts in the field is around 5'10 190. So much for "Gorilla Ball." Watching the game on FS South the other night against TN Tech I realized just how undersized the Vols were when it came to position players. The Vols made Tech look like the '98 Yankees.

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

I'm thinking it might be a 3-man rotation with each Wednesday starter on the mound again Sunday. Makes sense.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to Vols20:

Eaaaaaaasy, big fella.

I believe he may have been counting orange sheep in his sleep.

gobigorange27 writes:

I hope "the plan" includes scoring more runs than the other team.

Ttown writes:

Well and the ride starts 10 and 6 going on 10 and man dont even get my hopes up

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