Handing a freshly autographed team photo to a wide-eyed fan, A.J. Simcox tried his hardest to ward off a timid grin.
Wearily running his hand down his bare right cheek, he began to laugh.
"Coach is always giving me trouble about it," he said with a shake of his head. "He'll tell me that my beard is looking extra thick today and stuff like that. It's all in fun and I really don't have to worry about shaving just yet, that's for sure."
While shaving may be a few years down the road for Simcox, Tennessee baseball coach Dave Serrano is hoping production on the diamond is not.
The freshman and Farragut High School graduate will start the season on Friday at UNLV at shortstop for the youthful Vols.
"I'm just excited to get out there looking at all these fans showing up," Simcox said. "But I'm not looking to accomplish anything special or specific, honestly. I'm worried about the team, not the stats."
The Vols held a Fan Day on Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, where a strong showing was able to meet the team, tour the facilities and even take a few swings in the batting cages.
"There are a lot of baby faces, but that's my M.O. as a coach, really," Serrano said. "You can't turn things around overnight, that hit me right in between the eyes, but looking at these young guys I can see the plan."
Maddox Injured: Starting third baseman Will Maddox, who is one of just three returning starters, suffered an abdominal injury last week.
Serrano said he expects Maddox to play come opening day.
Maddox, if healthy, will open the season hitting out of the leadoff spot. While the sophomore is not the most typical leadoff candidate, Serrano said he likes the versatility Maddox provides with a combination of power, run production and modest speed.
Maddox is continuing his transition from second base to third and remains atop the list of Serrano's praises for his defensive abilities.
"(Maddox) went from an average second baseman, to a great third baseman within five months and that's the truth," Serrano said. "He is as good defensively as a third baseman that I've been around in my career."
First-timer at First: Junior Scott Price, who transferred to Tennessee from USC Sumter, will enter the season as the Vols' starting first baseman and hit third.
Serrano said Price, among others, will play a key role in the team's power production.
Serrano added that Andrew Lee and Vincent Jackson, who are vying for the designated hitter role, alongside left fielder Vance Vizcaino and right fielder Christin Stewart also will contribute to the team's home run numbers.
Battle at Second: Serrano said he expects a "year-long" battle for the starting second baseman position between freshman Jeff Moberg and junior Taylor Smart.
Other than second, the older Smart also could be used to facilitate multiple infield needs. Serrano said during Simcox's days off at shortstop, Smart could see playing time there and possibly fill in for Maddox at third.
TV Coverage:The Vols will be featured on national television at least six times this season. Of those games, five will be played at home.
Tennessee's TV schedule: March 30 at Vanderbilt on CSS, April 6 vs. South Carolina on FSTN, April 21 vs. Ole Miss on ESPNU, May 4 vs. Georgia on CSS, May 5 vs. Georgia on ESPNU, May 18 vs. Texas A&M on FSN.