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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Press Conference Notes: Corbin provides injury updates, previews draft status and upcoming matchup against Alabama

The Vanderbilt skipper met with the media Wednesday morning to discuss the team’s injuries, Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker and strategies going forward.
Vanderbilt baseball hosts the Alabama Crimson Tide this coming weekend in Nashville following a loss to Louisville on Tuesday. (Twitter/@VandyBoys).

The Vanderbilt Commodores (32-10, 14-7) will host the Alabama Crimson Tide (28-15, 11-10) this weekend in an inter-division Southeastern Conference (SEC) matchup. Head Coach Tim Corbin offered his thoughts on making lineup changes in order to spark more offense.

“The one thing you want to do is keep the harmony of the group as close to consistent as possible because really, that’s who we are. You don’t want to make wide-spread changes unless they help the group moving forward,” Corbin said. “But at the end of the day, you have to integrate certain kids who have made moves maybe above a certain person.”

This past weekend, the VandyBoys lost two straight games against the No. 14 Florida Gators, and were defeated once again Tuesday night by the No. 15 Louisville Cardinals. Wednesday morning, though, Coach Corbin did not seem particularly worried about his team. 

“Tough stretch being on the road. We’ve played very good teams. We just didn’t have much energy in our barrels, but we’ll get back—we’ll get home, we’ll regroup. We’ll be okay. This has happened before and it’s not the worst thing.”

After Leiter’s second loss of the season Saturday night against the Florida Gators, one in which he gave up an unprecedented five earned runs, Corbin remained confident in his right-handed ace.

“Teams are making more of an adjustment to him. That happens. He’s still a sophomore,” Corbin explained. “Sonny [Gray] went through this, David [Price] went through this.”

Right now, Vanderbilt’s pitchers are a little banged up. Corbin discussed junior Ethan Smith in particular, who felt some soreness after coming back from COVID-19.

“He’s not throwing. It’s just a matter of building up his volume after taking 14 days off.”

Along the same lines, and to the dismay of the Commodores, sophomore right-handed pitcher Sam Hliboki will miss the rest of his season and undergo Tommy John surgery.

With the wear and tear of a long season starting to add up, Corbin expressed that he is relieved to have the next stretch of games at home, especially during a busy time of the year when many players are studying for final exams.

“It’s always nice to be at home, although our kids have played pretty well on the road, too,” Corbin said. “Taking today and getting some time academically for the kids is much needed. There’s a lot of projects that need to be turned in and I know it. They were on the bus studying going to Louisville and back, so today will be good, and playing on our own turf with no travel will certainly be satisfying to everyone.”

The Major League Baseball (MLB) draft, held in July, draws nearer as the team inches closer towards the end of the season. Corbin spoke about his experience dealing with the potential distractions that come along with players leaving to play professional ball.

“I don’t know if I ever see it as a distraction because it presents great opportunities to talk about it—not now, but in August or September as we prepare for the year. You know it’s going to happen, and you know certain kids on your team are going to be a part of it.”

Speaking of the MLB draft, Leiter and Rocker are likely to be first-round picks this year. Although they are extremely talented on the mound, Corbin spoke more highly of their personalities. 

“I talk more about their personalities because they’re different, as they should be. And I like talking about their personalities,” Corbin said. “I think that’s the one thing I enjoy as a coach, talking about them as people, rather than baseball talents because their talents supersede the baseball field, and I mean that genuinely.”

Corbin expressed the joy he’s had being able to watch Rocker, and he praised his work ethic and the intensity he brings to every game.

“I’ve enjoyed watching that kid. I’m going to miss that kid so much,” Corbin said.“I love how he competes; I love how he sells out… I was watching him last night in the dugout and was just thinking, you know, this kid is on every pitch. He’s so into it.”

Corbin praised his other right-handed ace as well, but like he stated, Leiter and Rocker are different in their own ways.

“Jack’s like an old soul in so many different ways,” Corbin said. “I just love these kids so much.”

The VandyBoys’ three-game series against the Alabama Crimson Tide starts in Nashville on Friday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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About the Contributor
Andy Carr
Andy Carr, Former Assistant Sports Editor
Andy Carr ('22) was a student in the College of Arts and Science who studied economics with minors in business and computer science. In addition to writing, he enjoys running, playing golf and rooting for all D.C. sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
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