Dave Serrano tunneled his hand into his back pocket.
With a casual smirk, he emerged holding a piece of paper.
“Well, there’s certainty a lot written on it,” the Tennessee coach said Thursday.
The list was bursting with highlighted notes of reoccurring breakdowns that the Vols have habituated in the field, mound and base paths.
“The energy level is there,” Serrano added. “Now it’s about consistency with results.”
And in order to get his sought-after steadiness on the mound after a hodgepodge of freshman have received starts to open the season, Serrano is adopting the policy that the pitcher with the “best stuff” will earn the most innings.
The approach will result in customary closer Nick Williams starting on Saturday as Tennessee (11-9, 1-2 SEC) hosts a three-game series against Missouri (7-10, 1-2) beginning today at 6 p.m.
“(Williams is) not getting enough innings like he should,” Serrano said.
Williams quietly led the Vols in starts last season with 12.
To begin the 2013 campaign, the junior and Farragut High School graduate has made 10 appearances, all of which have been in relief. He has a 2.45 ERA, allowing four runs and 11 hits in 14 1/3 innings/
Additional Pitching Projection: Regular Friday starter Zack Godley will take the mound today. But in a continued effort to settle on a third starter in the rotation, Serrano will hand the ball over to Trevor Bettencourt for Sunday’s game.
Serrano voiced his confidence in the freshman and said that Bettencourt embodies the idea of the pitcher throwing the best stuff will earn the most innings.
“I’m hoping he takes the bull by the horns to be honest with you,” Serrano said. “I want him to take that job. He’s deserving of it.”
Bettencourt has made seven appearances this season, including one start. He has earned two saves and allowed three runs in 14 innings of work.
Hidden Tiger: Serrano said that Missouri’s 7-10 record isn’t telling of the talent the Tigers boast on the rubber.
“It may be one of the biggest tests we’ve seen so far,” he said.
Missouri’s right-hander Jace James brings a 19-inning shutout streak into the weekend and Rob Zastryzny has struck out 10 batters in two straight starts.
Owenby Closing: With Williams being shuffled into the starting rotation, Serrano said freshman Drake Owenby will move into the closing role.
The Powell graduate has earned one save in nine relief appearances.
In terms of middle-inning relief, Serrano said he will turn to Tevor Charpie, Eric Martin and Dalton Saberhagen.
Sturdy Scott: The only two positions that the Vols haven’t started freshman are third base and first base.
Perhaps overshadowed by outspoken team leader Will Maddox, junior college transfer Scott Price has started all 20 games at first and has emerged as UT’s consistent No. 3 hitter.
In 80 at-bats, Price is hitting .350 with 10 RBIs.
“(Price) takes the most consistent quality at-bats of anyone in our lineup,” Serrano said.